The nasty secret every police recruiter doesn’t want me to tell you
And it isn't a pleasant one.
I’m gonna let you in on a nasty secret every police recruiter in the country doesn’t want me to tell you.
This job sucks.
That isn’t hyperbole. This is literally one of the most underappreciated professions that exists in modern society. Think about it.
According to FBI statistics, the rate of sworn officers to inhabitants in this nation was 2.4 per 1,000 in 2011.
We are the minority, expected to save the majority when they are in trouble. We are expected to stop violence at every turn without a second thought to our own safety. We are told by popular culture and the media that we are all either dirty or jerks.
The same society that consumes cop show after cop show, and cop movie after cop movie, berates us at seemingly every turn. As a motor officer, there are days when I feel unilaterally despised. My job is to be the physical manifestation of consequences for whatever stupid thing you just did in your car. Because of that, I frequently experience negative contacts as soon as my boot leaves the peg and connects with the pavement.
More often than not, when you see a cop in the news, it isn’t good news. They are being vilified for, at the minimum, having really poor decision-making skills all the way up to being arrested for domestic violence, DUIs, child porn or murder. If it was your local insurance adjustor, it’d be a blip on the news.
We have to be on our toes at all times. Have an opinion? Too bad. Be professional and keep it to yourself. Want a cup of coffee? Prepare for looks of derision because you aren’t out “keeping the streets safe”. Walking into the local sandwich shop for lunch? You better be checking every last person’s hands. You know, so you don’t get shot and all.
If you have thin skin, don’t waste your time. If you are overly sensitive, find different employment. If you can’t bounce from a dead 18-month-old at the bottom of a pool in a matter of hours so you can respond to a run-of-the-mill auto burglary, you are wasting your time.
That car you just stopped? What is that guy digging around for? His license? A gun?
The next shift is short-handed. You get to stay for another eight hours...and then be back in six more for another ten.
The half-second you get to make a decision on whether or not to take another man’s life will be analyzed for weeks on end by people who have no idea how to do your job. Your family will worry about you from the moment you kiss them goodbye until the moment you walk right back through the front door. You will miss birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries.
Your family will increase by 764,999. You will have a support system understood only by other first responders. The majority of the populace loves you (but they are very quiet with their opinion). Kids will wave at you. You get to save lives, prevent crime, and take bad guys to jail.
Cops aren’t better than everyone else. We’re all masochists. And I can’t imagine spending the last sixteen years doing anything else.