P1 First Person: "I hate this job"

I hate this job. I worked another holiday while it seemed like the rest of the world had the day off with their families. But I stopped to help another family with car trouble make arrangements to get to their grandparents’ house. It made their day that I even stopped for them, like they didn’t expect a cop to care about them. I still get a Christmas card from some folks I helped a long time ago.

But I hate this job. Some idiot tried to run me down in his car because I wrote him a ticket. Had to draw down on him and now the paperwork makes me wish I had just pulled the freaking trigger after all. Then I think about the time I could have shot a guy and didn’t.

His mother later thanked me.

He was a combat veteran and going a little crazy. We got him some help.

I hope he’s doing OK.

But I hate this job. Punk kids flipping me off and laughing. Driving like idiots. Spray painting street signs. They don’t know me like the kids on the league I coach do. Even though some of the players are from the hood, we get along. I get a chance to give them a smile or a hug or joke with them. They hate cops, but they are ok with me. Poor guys don’t have much of a chance sometimes it seems. Glad I can help even if it’s just a little bit.

But I hate this job. Every time I cuff somebody up it’s a ton of paperwork. Gotta cover my butt from every angle to keep from getting sued or torn to shreds by a defense attorney. Sometimes the good guys win.

Somebody goes to jail and you hear their victims testify at the hearing. I take no pleasure in a man in chains, but when you see a victim in tears pleading for some justice and by some chance a judge has an intelligent thought and puts somebody away that is up to no good in this world, maybe I can hold my head up high one more day.

But God, how I hate this job. My back is aching from lugging 30 pounds of gear every day of the world and sometimes it seems I’m driving around for nothing. But the 7-11 clerk is glad I’m here. And the drunk drivers aren’t so glad. And the little kids still smile and wave. Sometimes the grownups do too. The truth is I know a lot of people who are glad I do what I do.

Even my kid thinks it’s pretty cool that I’m a cop.

God, thanks for letting me have this job.

About the author

Joel Shults operates Street Smart Training and is the founder of the National Center for Police Advocacy.. He is retired as Chief of Police in Colorado. Over his 30 year career in uniformed law enforcement and in criminal justice education Joel has served in a variety of roles: academy instructor, police chaplain, deputy coroner, investigator, community relations officer, college professor, and police chief, among others. Shults earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, with a graduate degree in Public Services Administration and bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Missouri. In addition to service with the US Army military police and CID, Shults has done observational studies with over fifty police agencies across the country. He has served on a number of advisory and advocacy boards including the Colorado POST curriculum committee as a subject matter expert.

Follow Joel on Twitter @ChiefShults.

Contact Joel Shults

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