Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math

### Geometry for Police Officers

```
Date: 02/24/97 at 13:52:51
From: Heather Forhand
Subject: Geometry

How is geometry going to help me in my career as a police officer?  As
far as I can see, the only math that I might need would be algebra 1
and I've already had that. Why do colleges suggest that you have pre-
calculus? Why so much math?

Thanks,
Heather
```

```
Date: 02/24/97 at 20:36:18
From: Doctor Lisa
Subject: Re: Geometry

Hi Heather!

I teach math, and I'll try and answer your question as best I can.

Geometry may help you as a police officer if you are trying to figure
out where a car was coming from when it hit another car (the angles).
It could help you determine where someone was standing when they shot
or stabbed someone (once again, the angles).  It could also be useful
in some detective work.  Some of the higher math may come in handy for
forensic stuff - like figuring out how fast a car was going when it
slammed on the brakes (which you can figure out from the length of the
skid marks).  I'm sure there are other applications of math in police
work - those are just a few I could think of off the top of my head.

I think colleges suggest you have pre-calculus so that you have the
greatest number of educational opportunities available to you.  Let's
say you change your mind and you want to major in business.  You need
a decent amount of math for a business major (usually a year's worth -
and there's some calculus in business math).  Or maybe you decide you
want to major in pre-med.  You need a couple of semesters of calculus
for that.  So they're trying to make sure you're prepared and don't
have to take a lot of extra classes (which, of course, you would have
to pay for :) ) to do what you want to do.

A good part of why we take a lot of math to go to college is to
develop thinking and problem-solving skills.  As a police
officer, you'll have all sorts of problems to solve.  Are they all
going to involve math? No. But the skills you develop in math will
the steps of getting all the information, drawing a diagram if
necessary, figuring out what you are trying to get, doing it, and

One of my former students who had a lot of trouble with math is
majoring in criminal justice in college.  He had to take two classes
of math (through college algebra, I think, which is an algebra 2 level
course).  He hasn't said what math he'll have at the Police Academy
(which he is attending soon), but I'm fairly sure that he'll have some
specialized math while he's there.

-Doctor Lisa,  The Math Forum
Check out our web site!  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
```
Associated Topics: