What can cops do to boost their morale? 7 tricks to live by
It's a tough time to be a cop — we asked our users what tricks they use to keep their morale high
Pulse of Policing 2015: The State of Law Enforcement is an ongoing research venture aimed at examining the current state of policing in America from the individual, organizational, and industrial perspectives. The below article is a part of our first series focused on the individual – a series that will also examine issues such as PTSI and heart health. Learn more about Pulse of Policing
By PoliceOne Staff
It's a tough time to be a cop. With bystanders pulling out cell phones to record your every move, citizens refusing to comply and every officer-involved incident scrutinized in the media, getting out of bed everyday to continue to serve your community can feel like a monumental task.
Pulse of Policing: The State of Law Enforcement examines the problem areas within law enforcement in 2015 — their causes and recommended solutions. As part of our coverage, we asked our Facebook fans what tricks they use to keep their morale high when it feels like no one appreciates them.
Check out some of the best responses, and add your own thoughts in the comments section below:
1. Laughing With Colleagues
The most common response from officers of what makes their day-to-day work life easier was their other brothers and sisters in blue. Colleagues can help build you up when you’re feeling down and understand what you’re going through far better than anyone outside the profession ever could.
“We share the laughs, our angst, our dreams and best stories (good and bad). If it weren't for these people I'd go mad," Connie Rogan wrote.
Because they are there with you on the streets, the bond between LEOs is stronger than most, and it should be utilized particularly in times of difficulty.
“It's all about the team. We love each other like family and even though I know that everyday bears the possibility of something crappy happening, I get a sincere chuckle thinking about my partners and how much I look forward to facing the day or night with them," Ryan Abbott wrote.
The healing power of a funny story or joke is immeasurable. Some LEOs find the best way to make a bad day easier is to laugh. Those tiny moments of humor go a long way to easing the stress inherent in the job.
“Cop humour: Best way to get through any day. Dark and gloomy for most, but right on for a beat cop," Timothy O’Rourke wrote.
2. Spending Time With Family
Getting off work and spending time with the people you love the most is a key morale-booster for some officers. Family time not only helps cops decompress, but also acts as a motivator. For many officers, family is the reason they go into work every day and reminding themselves of that revitalizes them.
Sean Gibson wrote, “I eat ice cream while playing PS3 with my five-year old," to which Stephen Partridge replied, “Xbox one over here."
Jaycee Steiner’s three-year-old son is her key to keeping a high spirit.
“ [He] kisses me goodbye every day, tells me to be safe and get the bad guys," Steiner wrote.
3. Ignoring The Haters
Officers sometimes have to go to extra lengths to make sure the general population doesn’t discourage them from their everyday mission of keeping people safe. Small acts of defiance or anti-cop slurs can make an already difficult job seem daunting.
Taylor Rupp wrote that he “pretends people with cameras are the paparazzi and I’m a celebrity just trying to get lunch."
In the face of anti-police fervor, some cops suggested remembering the golden rule: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Saul Gomez told us he kills antagonizers with kindness.
“For some reason, people who randomly yell at me or make some anti-police remark, hate it (I mean, hate it) when I respond with a wave and a ‘have a wonderful and safe day’," he wrote.
Joe Pannullo also offered this important reminder: “The great citizens who appreciate all we do and sacrifice day in and day out FAR outnumber the scum."
4. Strong Leadership
For some LEOs, management that supports their department can be all that’s needed to keep the individual officers strong. During times of trouble, a good boss can help find a constructive way to problem solve. Leadership that finds ways to build trust with the community can also affect how officers feel on the job.
“I'm a 33-year Texas officer and I think two huge morale boosts are a chief that really has your back and a community that values its officers," Bret Dinkins said.
5. Giving Back
In this profession, the times you’re thanked are sometimes few and far between, but being a sheepdog isn’t about getting thanked. It’s about serving your community and giving back - and those acts alone (with or without a ‘thank you’ ) are enough for some cops to keep their heads high.
“I teach little kids the proper technique for building the slurpees that I buy them at our local 7-Eleven," Sean Eric wrote.
Holly Emmie likes to visit elementary schools during recess. “Kids love cops. I give out stickers and play four square, basketball or whatever. It's a pretty awesome boost when I'm at my worst," she commented.
6. Remembering The Value Of The Work
Cops are needed. Regardless of how many people are protesting on the streets, law enforcement is always going to be there to take care of its citizens. There are people out there whose lives are depending on LEOs.
“No matter how many people hate you, just remember for every one who hates you there's one that needs you. And one day that same person who hated you will need you and I will be there for that person just the same," Bobby Kratzer wrote.
And when it comes to help, all it takes is just one person to make it all worthwhile. JJ Morgan wrote, “I do something nice for someone. I shoot for at least one good deed a day to help someone. If I have to go the extra mile or out of my way to accomplish this, it's more rewarding."
“If I can help just one person, then the thousands against me go unnoticed," Joey Landgraf commented.
7. Cherishing the Good In Humanity, No Matter How Small
Cops on patrol are often exposed to people at their worst. Their days can be filled with tragedy, and the constant exposure to the dark side of humanity can very easily feel as if it’s consuming them.
Nathan reminded cops of the importance of not forgetting the good in the world, no matter how small, saying: “small things remind officers that despite all the bad they see in the world, there is still hope for good...remember the world isn't a bad place despite the fact that's what LEOs often see."
Your attitude is dependent not on the day you’ve had or the arrests you’ve made — but on how you perceive yourself and your profession. You decide what you carry home with you and what you leave behind. So tell us, how do you burn off steam and keep your head up?