If you are thinking about becoming a police officer to help protect America & the West Point Military Academy motto “Duty, Honor, Country” has great meaning for you, as it does for me, then you may want to think about my modified version, “Duty, Honor, Community”. Also check out DiscoverPolicing.org A Nationwide Online Recruiting Resource for the Law Enforcement Profession at www.DISCOVERPOLICING.org which is a new website from Police Chief Magazine & the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice. It will probably provide you with good, important information.
I’ve recently retired from the police profession after 25 years & becoming a police officer was one of the best things I ever did. It was definitely a love – hate relationship in that I loved being there, on patrol when people needed us most because their lives had just gone through the fan & become messed up. I hated the bad attitudes, politics & stupid things I experienced. I remember thinking when I was in high school that I wanted to be able to make a difference for the better in someones life before I die. I thought about being an attorney or a doctor, but, they dealt with issues too far after the initial incident for me. So I thought about Fire Fighters & Paramedics, but, decided that I didn’t want to go into burning buildings with just an axe & a water hose nor did I want to try to piece someone back together after their initial incident. I wanted to try to prevent the problems in the first place if at all possible by being a police presence or be able to respond immediately when someone needed assistance. I started talking to all kinds of cops, at different levels, in different agencies, doing different jobs. Then I found out that my municipal police had a “Ride Along Program” so I signed up w/ my parents knowledge & I went out on patrol with a real police officer in a real police car. I WAS HOOKED like a hungry trout!!! This was exactly what I wanted to do with my life because the police are on patrol already, they can respond the fastest & bring with them communications, weapons, first aid & additional resources to any incident. I could serve my country on the front lines of the daily public safety battle between good & bad in our country & civilization. Well, I started taking police tests all over & eventually got my hearts desire when I was interviewed, hired & sent to the police academy. I loved the police academy because it was intense, tough & you learned a lot that you knew you would be using to help/protect others & yourself & catch bad guys when life got complicated. I’d just like to say thank you to any public safety or military instructors out there who read this because you are critically important & integral in saving officers lives & citizens lives.
For you people who are interested in being police officers or other public safety/military personnel, please maintain/improve your skills & your physical/medical/mental condition because you never know when you will need it or someone else will be depending on you to come to their aid in their most desperate moments! Also, think carefully about what you believe in, what you think being a cop is all about & what is really important in your life, because the life of a police officer will challenge it all. You will need to be calm during stressful situations. You will probably see people injured badly & probably see people die. You must be able to think clearly about what is important to focus on & resolve when there is a lot of confusion involved. You will need to be smart & be able discern right from wrong in order to do the right thing. You cannot succumb to temptation & you must be able to articulate what happened & why you took the action that you did. You will have bad days because you’re human also & you will have good days because you worked hard, made good choices & did the right thing. Your personal & professional lives will probably conflict at some point. That will probably pass & if you have problems there are more resources than ever to help you resolve difficulties. It is difficult at times because you have to deal with your own life struggles as well as the issues at work in the PD and with the citizens problems on the street. There are a lot of people who will lie to you & lie about you because they want retribution after you’ve caught them doing something wrong. There are people who will try to harm you or kill you. There are a lot of harsh words & not a lot of thanks either. BUT, there are more people who do respect you for being there for them despite all those difficulties, there are people who will help you & there are those few thank you’s that have a miraculous way of making a lot of those negative burdens disappear. So, if you really want to LIVE your life to the fullest & know that you were one of the people who did their best to help others at their worst moments & you think that you have what it takes, then maybe you too can be a police officer. If you go for it & make it, welcome to the family. I will always have public safety & military people in my thoughts & prayers. I’ll be the middle-aged or older guy who gives you a nod or a wave, a thank you & asks God to watch over you. Check out www.DISCOVERPOLICING.org
Sincere best wishes,