The vast majority of us love being cops. We take pride in going to work everyday. We take pride in handing out our business card that reads, “Police Officer” or “Deputy Sheriff” or “Special Agent” or whatever other title we might have at the PD. Our job defines us. We live it 24/7. We take it home.
But it’s just as important — if not more important — to strive to be the best at the other titles attached to our names. Let’s start with spouse, parent, church deacon, brother, sister, and friend — just to name a few. Keeping our law enforcement lives in balance with our roles outside the job has been proven to be a pivotal part of a long, successful career as a cop (and still get out in time to enjoy our retirement).
Required (or Suggested) Reading
Many books have been written by cops, psychiatrist that specialize in the stresses of law enforcement, as well as spouses and others associated with lifelong law enforcement professionals. One could reasonably argue that these are the real experts — the true professionals — on dealing with balances in your career.
I’ve read the books, and lived the life now for 20 years, and I can tell you that most of the books are true. Balance is important. Associating with friends outside the profession is healthy. Being a “soccer dad” or a school volunteer can be a stress relief. Not having to discuss police work and being around people who know you for you and not your job will keep you from dreading the “how many tickets did your write today” or the “Did you eat your donuts this morning?” questions that everyone else wants to ask you.
Get a Non-police Perspective
Playing a round of golf with your buddy who sells electrical supplies will give you the opportunity to see life and the view of society from a non-police perspective. That’ll broaden you as a person, but you can use that knowledge in your daily routine at work as well.
I’ve come to the realization that my kids don’t really care what I do for a living, they are too busy being children and experiencing their lives. All that is important to them is that I am there for them and can provide for them. Outside of them being able to tell their friends that dad is a police officer, they really don’t have a clue what I really do for a living, and that’s ok by me.
In the end, when your children have grown up they’ll say, “My dad was a good dad,” or “My mom always was the coach of my volleyball team.” Such statements will also probably be followed by “He/she was a cop too.”
There are numerous books on this subject by some very reputable experts. I would encourage you to read a few of them, or all of them, but to start I’d suggest you pick up Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin and I Love A Cop by Dr. Ellen Kirschman. Both of these books are also available on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Stay safe out there.