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I'm not considering a career in law enforcement, but I have noticed that many of my LEO buddies and LEOs on this board (particularly Patrickl) try to disuade anybody thinking about becoming an officer? Why is that? I have always viewed law enforcement as a highly respectable (if underpaid) career. Have the politics really gotten that bad?

Billy Ray
 

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Billy Ray,

The answers to your questions are not easy and my answers will most likely bring about a heated debate but here goes.

First of all it is not a respected occupation. Regardless of what people say to peace officers while they are in ear shot about how much they appreciate what they do, the average person either doesn’t think about cops at all or simply hates them. The reasons for this are simple. No one likes being brought to task. This is not a nation of law-abiding people. If it were so we would have never had the increase in crime this nation experienced during “Prohibition” and there would be no controversy over drug use, prostitution, etc. People only want law to apply to someone else and they certainly don’t want to obey any law if it restricts them in the least bit.

Next, people do not actually understand what the role of the law enforcement officer is in this nation so the expectation of service is completely wrong. Although the logos may say to “serve and protect” it only means when we are present. Your security is YOUR responsibility; and PLEASE let’s not gets into a debate of, “but I can’t carry a gun to protect myself, so I have to depend on the police.” The fact that you can’t carry a gun isn’t the cop’s fault. Although just about everyone on this forum believes in the right to carry, the obvious majority of the public disagrees and continues to vote those, who vote against CCW laws, into office. The pubic has some sort of asinine belief that we can somehow protect their property from theft so it’s our fault when it’s stolen. In short our role is the pursuit, capture, and documentation of evidence after the fact. Yes we get lucky and interdict crimes on occasions, but by in large we are reactive.

We are not a productive governmental agency. We add nothing to the gross national product we only consume tax dollars. Although I have worked my butt off for 28 years busting people, I have produced nothing that is of benefit to the public. Now you may argue that busting law violators may be of benefit to the public but I disagree. Most do not stay in prison and most are out doing the same old thing in very short order.

We are only an item stock number. When I say this I mean that the cities that employ us only think of us as a hard asset such as a wrench or hammer. When we are broken they want to throw us away. I have watched many of my friends who have been simply thrown away when they became too wracked up to continue in the job. I watched as the city fought disability claims to the death financially draining the officer until he went away empty handed with nothing to show for 20 plus years of service. The public of course supports this because let’s face it, it’s just another free loading civil servant milking the system.

I can’t defend myself. I can only tell you that because of seniority I can move myself to dayshift with weekends off. On this shift I am least likely to find myself in another situation where I have to shoot someone, or even use force for that matter. I will never allow myself to be the subject of another public witch-hunt because I defended my life. I am sick and tired of the second-guessing by the public and their incredibly moronic belief that this job can be accomplished with a kind word.

This job, at times, is a violent contact sport. I have been shot at more than just a couple of times, stabbed or slashed twice, and bludgeoned on several occasions. I can’t even remember how many times I have been pelted with rocks, bottles, feces, urine, or had to fight a person stronger than me who was jacked up on booze, drugs or both. In my career I have suffered five fractures, needed 89 sutures, 10 of which were my own damn fault, and undergone surgery twice for major job inflicted damage. I kid you not when I tell you that just getting out of bed in the morning is a MAJOR process for me now and I suffer from a constant ache in my knees, right shoulder, and lower back. I will admit that my knee problems are also related to stupid behavior as a youthful soldier that just had to jump out of planes, but climbing in an out of a cruiser for so many years has really aggravated the problem. What’s worse is the fact that I have to pass a physical fitness test every year so I have to stay in shape and the level of exercise I have to undertake to pass the physical only aggravates my injuries.

The cost to my family has been high. My job contaminates my family. I remain silent about the job at home, but my wife and kids can read papers, and listen to the news.

I should have listened to my mother and gone on to medical or dental school. Why I didn’t is beyond me but I have no one to blame but myself. One thing is for sure I will do my very level best to talk anyone out of going into this job if I can. There are far too many better paying, safer, and more appreciated careers out there.

I haven’t given all the reasons because there are too many, but suffice it to say that this job isn’t fit for human consumption.
 

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I am a former Deputy, I don't claim to be a expert in anything but I can agree with PATRICKL. I would only recomend Law Enforcement to a person that hated their current job, it is like no other job I ever had which is good and bad. I think it is just something you have to find out for yourself.

Good luck

[This message has been edited by lowtech (edited 07-02-2001).]
 

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Hmmmm.... Partickl, very sorry to hear about the path your career has taken you on...

I would agree with you that there is a SERIOUS perception problem within our society. Sadly, it doesn't JUST to extend to LE, but inhabits many other areas.

Of course, as bad as it is (for you), I have known a few people who have enjoyed the ride.

I would imagine that there's is comparison here for Military... Many "Locals" where I would find myself stationed across the country, and globe looked at us as subordinate citizens, although some would portray a different face if confronted, much like LE. The pay is worse, the hours are worse... And talk about being relugated to a number


Overall, I would probably say that LE work is a step up from the military.
 

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Pat, while I can sort of understand how you feel - or at least empathize a bit - I might add a couple of comments:

Our prisons are overcrowded, so not everyone you and the other LEOs catch is back on the street. I can, however, see how it might seem that way at times.

And having the predators in the pokey DOES contribute to the GNP. Somewhere, someone is getting something done that they might not be getting done if we opened the prison doors.

I read an editorial once wherein the writer stated flatly that "we know the police COULD shoot the gun out of a suspect's hand", so when they pinwheel the bad guy, it's deliberate. I can see how such stupidity could get old.

But ... if everyone takes your advice, Patrickl, we will be in a world of hurt, you know.
 

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I am not a police officer, but I have friends and family that are. I do have respect for them, they put their lives on the line every day to make my life and the lives of my wife and children a little safer. My kids look up to you boys and girls, so you HAVE done a good job. Hats off to all of you!....buck
 

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Patrick...Not everyone thinks badly of you guys...I know it must seem like it sometimes...but I know a lot of people that have a lot of respect for you guys.

whenever someone starts complaining about the police...I ask them how they would like it if we just did away with police....

That usually makes people stop and think.

Of course...We have a lot smaller population than in Cali...so maybe that makes a difference.

anyway...Keep up the good work Patrick.
 

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I am sorry that Patrick has had such a misrable experience as a police officer. Although my carrer is about half of his, I can say without hesitation that I would do it over again if I had to.I am ine of those lucky few that have known what I have wanted to do since I was 5 years old. Every day that I go into work I still have the same enthusiam for the job as I did when I first started.

The job is what you make of it. If you keep the right perspective, and don't let yourself worry about what others say, you can have a fullfilling career. After all, those people that are quick to criticize cops are the same one's who go to the movies, read books, and tune in COPS every Saturday to get a taste of the job we do for a living.

I look at the job this way. Life is a three ring circus, and I have a front row seat! I have seen and done things that others only dream about, and it's all because I chose this profession. We are a valuable asset to society, and I am proud to say that I am a cop!

I too have been injured a few times,bare scars, been shot at, lost a coule of friends in the line of duty, and have seen unimaginable horrors. But, through it all, I have lead a balanced life.

I am blessed with a very supportive wife who keeps me grounded. I have made an effort to continue with my education, primarly associate with non-law enforcement friends, and be open about my experiences with my family. I believe that is the formula for a happy and succesful career in police work!

If my son grows up seeing how much joy the job has brought me; and he decides to follow in my footsteps, I will not dissuade him. It is not an easy life, but it is one that you can look back upon with pride.
 

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Working in public safety is only as "bad" as you make it. My full time job is Shift Supervisor at a large 911 center. My part-time job is being a State Constable. Both require me to keep rotten hours and deal with people at difficult times of their lives. I listen to people die on the phones. I try to create some sense of calm during domestics, fights, EMS calls and car crashes. I do this on a rotating schedule, changing shifts every 4 weeks. I work the phones and radios, in addition to watching my crew and trying to keep my bosses happy. As a constable, I serve perform civil and criminal work for the District Court in my town. I serve arrest warrants and transport suspects from jail to court and back. I perform evictions and hold "sherrif sales" to satisfy civil actions. I do this in my spare time, which means basically whenever I am not sleeping.
Is it stressfull and all consuming? My wife gave birth to our fist child on the 4th. Most of my morning and afternoon of the 5th was spent on my cell phone in her hospital room, speaking to landlords to sort out various problems with ongoing civil actions.
I love my work and can think of nothing else better to do. I don't expect thanks for what I do. I will not receive any from my superiors or the public I serve. My reward is knowing that I do the "right" thing each day. Treat people as you would be treated, follow the law, and for God's sake use common sense!
 

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I agree with a lot of what Patrick said.

Do I dislike or hate the job? Nope. It sounds cheesy but while some view it as a paycheck producing job, to others it's almost a calling.

What is the most frustrating thing about the profession is the number of folks outside it (and some inside it) who have absolutely no clue and yet insist on pontificating and making pronouncements. Add to that, those with agendas, hidden or otherwise, who target the police or drag them into their games.

I'm seeing more & more information in print about patrol officers & deputies quietly stopping pro-active law enforcement. They'll respond to calls but little more. Why? Because as Patrick mentioned, should "bad" things happen, the officers will be crucified in many places.

Add to this, media - print / TV / radio - that doesn't understand their biases and how little they actually know.

If the outside influences aren't enough of a problem, too many PC types in supervisory or management positions who can't lead and can barely manage are becoming the rule rather than exception in a number of places. Few of them have the actual expeience needed.

All of that said, this is really a good profession. The vast majority of the folks in it are good & honorable people trying to do the right thing. Every now & then, an intangible reward happens and it makes an awful lot of the not-so-good seem very minor.

Probably the nearest thing I can compare it to is the combat arms part of the military.

[This message has been edited by shotgunner (edited 07-06-2001).]
 

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I agree with some of Patrick's sentiments but not most of them. I too have been a LEO for a long time and it has been a very fullfilling career over all. You do not become a Peace Officer inorder to get rich. Hopefully the type of person that becomes a cop does so for all the right reasons. Which IMHO is to make a difference in the world that we live in. I consider being a Peace Officer to be in the same league with Doctors, Teachers, Nurses and other members of the socalled helping professions. People make these career choices because they want to try and help out in their live times and to make a difference in the lives of other people. Admittedly these days it is get rare that you get the opportunity to do so. But still the chance does come up more often in our line of work than it does in most others. OTOH I loathe the politics, the back biting and being caught in the middle between the poliicans and the public, as most Police Chiefs are. IMHO the rank of Sergeant is the best rank in anybodys Police Department, because you are not far enough up the chain of command, to really be affected by all of the BS and politics that are involved in our jobs.

7th

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Support Your Local Police
 

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There are lots of reasons to not enter Law Enforcement today. Poor public perception, weird hours, low pay, ignorant politicians that want us to go away, public apathy, on call 24/7, lack of sleep, long term health issues, poor retirement, policy changes that are based only on public perception, people that will not listen, not enough Officers to handle calls safely, the belief of some people that we are their personal servants, The list goes on.
Despite all of this I love my job.
I think the primary requirement for employment is the recruit must exhibit a masochistic demeanor!
I still discourage almost everyone that asks about a job. To many people getting in for the thrill and quit as soon as things get hinky. Just a waste of everyones time!
 

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OK I have an opinion and like most they stinks.. Anyway. Lets see, poor leadership, stupid schedules, no money for training, second guessed by everyone when involved in a use of force, low pay, beaten up, shot at, anyway these are the good things. We recently hired 4 new officers and i asked one why he wanted to be a police officer. "To carry a gun!" I told him he should get a CCW and look for another line of work. At times a gun becomes a burden. I tell people every call I go on there is a gun involved. MINE.. Anyway there are better way to make a living.
 

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Originally posted by oneminute:
the belief of some people that we are their personal servants,
I just have to make comment on this. I many times find myself in the position of explaining to a "victim client," we use such terms here in California, that I am a "public servant," not a "personal slave." Most have a problem differentiating between the two.
 

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Originally posted by 7th Fleet:
OTOH I loathe the politics, the back biting and being caught in the middle between the poliicans and the public, as most Police Chiefs are. IMHO the rank of Sergeant is the best rank in anybodys Police Department, because you are not far enough up the chain of command, to really be affected by all of the BS and politics that are involved in our jobs.

7th

Funny how we perceive things, I find myself between all of the things you mentioned as a sergeant. As a sergeant I take the heat for policy changes, citizen anger about officer behavior, budget cuts, etc. Policy flows from above and I am required to implement it and if I am doing my job correctly I support my bosses even though I may not agree with them. To do less is to undermine. I must assume that you can imagine what happens to me the sergeant when I enforce a policy from you the chief when it’s not popular with the troops.

There is also the ever present and on going “us against them” crap in the ranks and the attendant suspicion and anger that flows in both directions. Unfortunately all of this tramples us sergeants as it runs up and down the chain. I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter where you are in the food chain, it all sucks.
 

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Ya' know patrick, I'm a citizen, and I dont hate cops, I care about cops lives and families, if I didnt, or was anti-law enforcement as lawdog (I think), put it in the other thread I started, I wouldnt be on this stupid board asking for advice, I'd be out with a jennings doing headshots on cops.
BUT I'M NOT, SO IF YOU DONT LIKE YOUR JOB THEN QUIT INSTEAD OF THROWING BLANKET STATEMENTS AROUND THAT ARE NOT TRUE.
The point here is, yes, I like cops, respect their lives and so forth, but the world does not revolve around cops, WHAT ABOUT US GOOD CITIZENS? There must be a middle ground and I'm looking for it. So keep your sarcasm to yourself, please.
Oh yea, BTW, thanks for the good service as an officer, but some of your thinking IS misguided about us citizens!

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"Always place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark"
Lazarus Long

[This message has been edited by Edward429451 (edited 08-05-2001).]
 

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Originally posted by Edward429451:

BUT I'M NOT, SO IF YOU DONT LIKE YOUR JOB THEN QUIT INSTEAD OF THROWING BLANKET STATEMENTS AROUND THAT ARE NOT TRUE.
The point here is, yes, I like cops, respect their lives and so forth, but the world does not revolve around cops, WHAT ABOUT US GOOD CITIZENS? There must be a middle ground and I'm looking for it. So keep your sarcasm to yourself, please.
Oh yea, BTW, thanks for the good service as an officer, but some of your thinking IS misguided about us citizens!
Hey Edward as a good citizen I assume you have heard of the 1st Amendment. My opinions are mine and I am afraid you will just have to live with that.

I will however, make you a deal. Since you don't like my opinion I will take your advice and get out of police work. Good citizens like you are all the motivation I need. So, I will be gone on Decemember 31st is that OK with you?
 

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Yea, sure patrick, its OK. I apologize if I came off kinda short with you. Some of the stuff I read and hear, I dont agree with and I should not have replyed in that manner. Even though you said some stuff I dont agree with, some of the other stuff, (in other threads), that you said, I DO agree with and you did leave me with some intelligent stuff to chew on, so my hats off to you and I apologize for being rude.

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"Always place your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark"
Lazarus Long
 

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I just last week made the decision to leave a LE job. While I am not going into long details Patrickl is right. I rotate shifts or days off every 3 weeks. I have been sued in civil court twice, no award to the other but what a night mare. In my LE career involved in 2 shootings, another night mare. Been beaten, kicked, spit on and etc. I am tired of being a lawyer, marriage counslor, refree, coach, and other jobs. Anyway I believe it takes a certain type person to be a police officer. I loved the job but hated the BS and lack of support.
 

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I have been punched,slapped,kicked,had folks pull guns, knives, syringes...spat upon...cursed at..etc,etc,etc. I work on a Gang team in a very busy city and also a SWAT team...I've seen my share of shattered broken lives. I've certainly seen the worst in people from serial killers to child molesters...but you know I've also seen great acts of strength and courage from Officers and citizens alike. The average citizen has no clue of what really happens out there..the endless cycle of brutality and violence. But you know what, this is the best job in the world..fortunatly I work for a fairly BS/Politics free Department. I know that I will never be rich, but neither will my kids go hungry...And I sleep well every night from job satisfaction...enough said....Femper Fi
 
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