3 tips for burned out cops

When you feel burned out, consider the following suggestions


By Ben Pugh

There comes a point in all of our careers when any number of things can lead to our passion for policing to decline.

Sometimes it’s the simple things like just being physically worn out from shift work that can hinder our enthusiasm. Other times, it’s due to a low morale or negative environment in your department or your work group/team. Sometimes, 20-25 years of the same thing becomes a depressingly ordinary routine (even in policing) and you need something new to look forward to. When you face these challenges, perhaps you could consider the following quick suggestions in renewing or maintaining a sense of purpose and passion in law enforcement:
NY city police officer on duty (Photo/Wikipedia)
NY city police officer on duty (Photo/Wikipedia)
 

1) DON’T KEEP MISERY COMPANY

The saying “misery loves company” doesn’t need any explanation or validation as true. While it will be much harder in a smaller department, it is important to maintain a positive outlook and to associate with people who want to see that light at the end of the tunnel (that isn’t an oncoming train). Get to know guys at surrounding departments who help keep you encouraged, rather than deflated. Also, make sure you maintain friendships that are outside the world of law enforcement and first responders to help remind you that there is actually still a “normal” out there that you might be missing out on.

One annual event that will make you refreshed and inspired to continue in your law enforcement career is “Police Week.” Held each year in Washington, D.C., every cop needs to make this pilgrimage at least once in their career. It is the greatest way to remember you are not alone and that you have an entire army holding the thin blue line with you.

I’d also add, that being part of a community of faith can be an extremely helpful way of processing what you deal with on a day-to-day basis, as well as a way of keeping a more positive set of influences in your life.

2) GET SOME EXERCISE AND REST

Yes, I know: “Mind. blown.” I don’t offer any studies here because there isn’t much debate to be had. Exercising often, eating well, and getting plenty of rest are well-known ways of helping to reduce and relieve stress in our lives. Fight the natural decline into the "cliche cop" who has lost the ability to help him/herself. You need to be healthy for the ones who love and support you, not to mention those who work alongside you. Their very lives may depend on your ability to physically help them.

While every department will generally have standards for firearm training and other areas of the job surrounding legal and policy updates, very few incentivize their warriors to truly stay fit or even more importantly: fighting fit. Think about how often you have to go “hands-on” with a subject versus how likely you are to be engaged in using your firearm. Both skills are perishable and necessary, but one is often more neglected than the other.
 

3) FOCUS ON YOUR FUTURE

Whether you desire to finish out the full 25 – or whatever number of years to retirement at your department – or you would like to move on to a new career, having something to look forward to is a powerful means of change. But rather than just talk about it, we recommend reverse engineering it; this means that you need to start with the end in mind. Once you have a clear idea or image of where you’d like to ideally be, rationally determine the steps necessary to get there. Once the steps are clear, take action and start moving and adjusting as needed. Having such goals and action plans can help restore passion for the tasks at hand.

This image of the future may include what you’d like to accomplish in your law enforcement career or what you’d like to accomplish outside of it. Better yet, it may include it all.

By having something to look forward to, no matter what your circumstances, you bring happiness into your life well before the event actually takes place. Gretchen Rubin

These aren’t be all and end all solutions, but just some quick suggestions to get you thinking. These suggestions are also beneficial for those who support law enforcement officers so that you know the areas in which you can encourage them.

Stay safe out there!

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