So you want to be a cop... | Page 2 | Primary & Secondary

So you want to be a cop...

Discussion in 'Mindset' started by Imperial_WTI, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. BklynBacon

    BklynBacon Amateur

    This should be a sticky. I'm serious. This is the most real posting I've read with my fellow brothers giving the good, bad and ugly of this job. The shit ain't pretty. It takes part of your soul. You'll never get it back! Ever. Someone has to do this job, but at what cost.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Imperial_WTI likes this.
  2. ptrlcop

    ptrlcop Established

    I'll just add, don't use my advice as an excuse to be a lazy shit bag. Sometimes you need to give a fuck.

    The other day the VA clinic in town called to have a vet removed because he wasn't welcome at that VA and they said he needed to go to another one 45 min away.

    Talking to him he did 10 years, multiple deployments got assigned to recruiter duty in our town and stayed for a bit after he discharged. Then he got arrested and is on probation, and can't leave. He has no connection to our community and no support network. He had gone to the VA because he was having an anxiety attack (a real one, he was holding his chest and his whole body was shaking). BECAUSE of they symptoms he was seeking treatment for, he was not able to negotiate through the VA bullshit and they wouldn't help him.

    We didn't have a dog in the fight but I assigned one of our CIT officers who is a vet to "do what it takes". We called multiple veteran support groups, the VA and we got him hooked up with an advocate that can help him manage the bureaucracy and get the treatment he clearly needs.

    Not our job, probably won't make his life rainbows and unicorns, but I'm convinced that dude was gonna kill himself and he hasn't yet. That was a fuck worth giving.
  3. M80Ball

    M80Ball Newbie

    You guys made a difference. That's what matters.
    CS0817 likes this.
  4. calavera

    calavera Newbie

    Advice: try to avoid the negative dudes as long as possible, though you won't be able to forever. Again, I won't begrudge anyone their viewpoint of the job, their dept, etc. BUT, there are still happy dogs running around, enjoying the best job in the world, who have been there for a long time. That could be you, too.
    Bourneshooter and Imperial_WTI like this.
  5. BklynBacon

    BklynBacon Amateur

    Better advice. Find out why those guys are so negative. Is it because they can't seem to wash the sand out of their box, or do they have a legit gripe. Learn from them. Learn to avoid some of the pitfalls they have made possibly. Some of the best cops I know throughout my career were those "hairbags". They happen to be ones that were narco rangers, got a body or 2, etc. Watch out for the spotlight rangers. Those are the asshole cops that will tune someone up, be there for all the action, then point to you when it comes to doing the paperwork on it..saying "those are your cuffs bro". Yes. That will happen.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. SCSU74

    SCSU74 Member

    There are just unhappy people, but there are also those that used to be the hard charging/do it all guys that got boned by the dept. The more I see it happen at my current agency the more I reconsider the way I police. For example one of my best friends is still being punished for a shoot he was involved in back on 11/2015. He was cleared by FBI, DOJ, state and our IA, but is still riding a desk because it made the news. It's possible he'll never work the street again (our dept has a history of banishing people after high profile shootings). All because he answered a dispatched assist EMS call, not a proactive stop or jumping out on someone..
    Imperial_WTI and BklynBacon like this.
  7. Firefly

    Firefly Newbie

    New guy here but this thread tpuched my heart a bit. So for better or worse here is my perspective

    --What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
    Not everybody is your friend. Not Sarge, not LT, and not even the guy you yanked out of a bad fight. Lots of Blue Falconry. It is the most disillusioning factor that takes a lot of young passion. It puts ice on your shoulders and makes you mistrustful and perhaps a bit more negative than you should be. I get it. After a while guys get older and want that promote. The job doesn't pay much no matter where you work so two or three side hustles is the norm. So guys will screw you over for less street time and more pay. There are still good guys but make friends slowly. Ultimately nobody cares how awesome you are. If anything it makes life harder

    --What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?
    Aside from the bluest falconry, the job is freaking heartbreaking. You will have to hold it in just to heave weep later. You never get used to it, you just accept it. Seeing your first patently "unfair" homicide or an old person beaten for their money will infuriate and hurt you. Same with kids. Or finding out that Mr. Decorated Officer of the Month is a doper or an alchie. "Be like him" then he gets a DUI or a doc shopping bust and he's tossed to the dogs. I get it. Oh God I get it. It is stressful, but you are always an example to others.

    --What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?
    When I realized nobody really cares if I go 10-7 in one piece as long as they do. Paperwork isn't so bad. I, for one, always liked it. It was a chance to show I wasn't a lunkhead and integral to a conviction. The hours were tough but hey, thats the appeal. Getting into a fight was fun the first time then serious business all times after. It was not like 80s movies. It was other peoples blood, saliva, and cooties on me. But the real definimg moment was realizing that you didn't join the Avengers or the Justice League of America or Able Team. You joined a bunch of other guys looking for a job. Some good, some not good, and most just starting slow and tapering off. It really is just a job after the first year

    --What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?
    I never maintained a long term relationship or got married simply bevause of the hours and the need for "me" time. Sometimes its easier just to sit black, play music on headphones and watch cartoons. People who knew me before say that on some things I have gotten harder about and other things more open minded. Regardless, it will change you. You will develop peeves you have no tolerance for and yet will develop patience and people skills you did not know you had.

    --What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?
    Credit, too many dependents from different women, any alco-bust, any dope beef(it is still competitive enough that getting caught toking up 10 years ago in Junior High can DQ you) or sometimes they just plain dont like how you look. The dumb kid barely makimg it goes to academy while the Audie Murphy looking guy gets a "thanks but no thanks". It just happens. Plus age can ge a factor. I started youngish but if you are too young or too old (near 40) it will be an uphill struggle. If you really want it, there's always a place. It just may not pay well or be a pleasant work environment

    --How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?
    Depends, there are lots of unsworn positions in larger agencies. Some of which pay more than road officers. Being Former Military isnt a shoe in anyway. It helps but no guarantee. Always a need for dispatchers, records,property & evidence, forensics, and even unsworn scene processors. Some positions require more education/advanced degrees

    --What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?

    Silly as it sounds, hold down a normal job, normal life, and maybe get some kind of degree in anything. Volunteer work is nice as is just being familiar where you want to work. You may be asked at a final interview to name off the mayor and city council members and if you dont know; they may dock you interview points. Beyond that you want to be a well rounded guy with a normal life. Too eager and it is a put off. Too 'whatever' and you get passed over. You want to be seen as a stable citizen with a life who wont fly the coop for a few hundred more a month after academy. Anything else they will teach you. Never lie. If you enjoy hunting, admit it. If you have a personal firearm, admit it. Don't brag about it or tout it as some big deal. Being a gun nut can and will get you DQ'd as will being too much of a wuss. The main requirement to being in policework is being an adult.

    These are just my thoughts. It can be rewarding and quite maddening. If you've had your fill; hang your spurs.
    I have personally known guys who retired at 58, 59, and 62 who died that same year. They had a really pretty funeral and everyone wore nice suits and class A's. They got bagpipes and a gun salute. But they also had some good years they traded in that could have been spent with wife, kids, and grandkids. It takes a toll on you. At a point you will have to decide what you value more.

    Because in reality, a year later....
    "Oh yeah so and so....he died didn't he?"
    "Yep, he sure did"
    "Oh well. Time flies"

    And your wife and kids will still be very heartbroken. I say that not to discourage but as a heads up.

    I answered this thread for me, but I hop it helps others. YMMV. It can be quite a ride, but always be ready to accept that the ride will end sometime

    And always remember, it is A job, not THE job
  8. Firefly

    Firefly Newbie

    Just one more thing..... There will always be sourpusses. Some have been in too long, others not long enough. Always keep your head up.

    "Because I want to help others and do good things" is a cliche answer and will elicit eye rolls but deep down, that really is why people try to get in. That idealism may wane over time, but deep down; it was the sincere motivation for many who took the oath.

    So if people are bitching, let em bitch. Hell, join in once in a great while. But don't take rank with those who cant ever be positive. Not worth the time.
    Imperial_WTI and M80Ball like this.
  9. Bangout

    Bangout Amateur

    Sorry for all the negativity about to be spewed. I was much happier when I was a dumbass and didn't know what I didn't know. There are better places than where I'm at but everyone deals with bullshit in some form.

  10. Imperial_WTI

    Imperial_WTI Newbie

    Situation Update as of 06/12/2017. This was written as talking points came into memory, so I apologize if it's hard to follow.

    Acting on the advice of several members, I participated in the Citizen's Police Academy for the local department. This was a great opportunity not only to meet several of the officers and admin staff, but learn the less high profile functionalities of the department to which I was previously unaware. I also seized an opportunity to take on a leadership role in the program by being elected the class chief. While purely for show, this position did allow me to be the sole point of contact with the PD staff and officers running the CPA program for any announcements or organizing class functions. The PD representative running the CPA program was also the administrative Sergeant who was on the hiring panel for new applicants, so I saw that as another positive aspect for taking responsibility if the day came where I actually wanted to apply.

    The involvement with the PD opened my eyes in several ways. The first and most notable being just how outnumbered the officers really are (at least for this department). This translates into an emphasis for officer safety and a prioritization of issues if a call requires all responding units. Sometimes folks are going to have to wait.

    Second, was just how fast a situation can really turn. While on my first ride along, the officer had just finished one of many routine traffic stops, this one being for a broken tail light. The contact was calm, courteous, and even made small talk with the officer. When the stop was over, the officer sat generally relaxed finishing up the traffic report when Dispatch announced subject with a gun requiring all available officers. Just like a light switch, the officers demeanor went to stern, solemn, and focused as we sped to the call. I remained silent out of respect that this was his prep time. He needed that short amount of time to get right mentally on a higher level. We arrived to the scene, the suspect was apprehended with no shots fired or injured parties. I got to be in the vehicle for transport to the jail and witness booking. When all was said and done, the officer got back in the car, then looked at me and said "How bout that shit?"

    The night from there on out was full of these adrenaline peaks and valleys. I can see why law enforcement has the effect it does on the body, as well as mortality after retirement.

    Whenever my family and friends heard I was even becoming remotely involved with the PD with this program, gossip spread like wildfire that I was becoming a cop. This was an interesting dynamic change and interesting to see how some of those close to me reacted so drastically.

    I participated in a total of 3 ride alongs, which was the maximum allowed by the department for CPA members. Each time I was able to ride with a different officer in a different mindset/part of his career. Just like every job, the department seemed to have your switched on guys, and your clock punchers. I honestly can't understand how someone can just show up mentally checked out for a job in law enforcement. You're rolling the dice with your own mortality at that point.

    I was able to have some serious discussions and soul searching sessions with myself. After taking in your input as well as the officers I had interactions with, I would still rule LE as a career possibility while I have the ability.

    The general consensus I received from those I was able to have in depth discussions with is that there is a shortage of people willing to make a selfless contribution to society, take up the badge for the right reasons, and maintain that level of proficiency that distinguishes officers. I was surprised to hear that even the local SWAT team was having a hard time finding applicants, and when asked "why?", the same answer of "no one wants the risk" was given.

    The area being policed makes a huge difference in officer presence and community disposition. Would I have a hard time being an officer in an area like Houston Metro where policing seems to be more reactive? Yes. The department I was involved with practiced a proactive approach to traffic stops and officer involvement. Some would even call it aggressive. I generally agree with this method as it seems to me that it gives the officers the most advantages for a given situation.

    I will still remain in contact with some of the officers I met and would encourage prospective applicants to participate also. Thank you to all of the posting officers in this thread not only for your insight, but your service.

    Keep your fucking heads on a swivel.
    Bourneshooter, jBravo3 and BklynBacon like this.
  11. BklynBacon

    BklynBacon Amateur

    I'm glad you got to see how your family reacted to your possible career choice. Also happy to see the different levels of cops you can deal with. It's truly "rock stars and retards". The department and its culture is completely decided by the structure, working area, money and job politics...which as I mentioned exponentially harder to deal with, than the street. Patrol (in my opinion) is easy. Wash, rinse, repeat. I associate it with how it is being a line cook. You get an order for scrambled can either make it hard or soft or something in between. Same shit with a domestic battery call, or robbery. It's all the same shit. Good luck in your quest if you decide to come on the job. We need good folks, but if you coming on here to try and save the world, you're going to be largely disappointed. If the brass could have drones instead of people, they would. But when you do, it's a gratifying feeling.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. voodoo_man

    voodoo_man Regular Member

    missed this when it was first posted...

    --What are those "I wish I would have known this when I started" moments? For good and bad.
    The level of comfort associated with violence the average criminal has needs to be accepted and translated into your comfort level with violence being even more in line than that of the average criminal. Normalcy Bias, complacency and believing there are things people will not do because they are "good" should be completely removed from your subconscious. This is done through hardship and experience of getting punched in the face and FoF. Go Boxing for several months, Thai Boxing/sparring, BJJ, traditional wrestling, jump on any FoF/Sim gun work you can find and your badge will get you access to. Get punched in the face by people who are stronger, faster and more experience than you in violence and learn from it during these lessons in violence. Then understand that you will have to employ that violence unconsciously at times, this is why training is extremely important.

    --What are the "This is what they don't tell you" moments?
    Be ready to use deadly force at a moments notice on everyone and anyone, then be ready to articulate your as much as possible. This means you should know every facet of case law, every facet of use of force doctrine, not just educationally, but have a thorough understanding of how it is applicable in reality, then how to articulate it on paper and in front of people. Every single officer should have a J.D. because of the level of complexity which comes with use of force, especially deadly force. Report writing and testifying are just as important as pistol and other violent skillsets. If you are a BJJ blackbelt and can run the FAST in 2.0 flat in your duty rig but you are a blubbering fool who cannot put a string of words together properly on the stand, you should seek employment elsewhere.

    --What were those moments that made you realize the honeymoon period was over?
    There will be a hell week. It may come sooner than later in some places, later than sooner in others. It will be a week that will literally make you question the existence of God, your role in the world and how you want to live your life. Call it a come to Jesus moment, it is when you saw the worst possible combination of events imaginable (young children killed, your partner killed/seriously injured, etc) and in the same week someone tried to kill you and you had to use a substantial amount of force to survive. It happens to everyone, that perfect combination of events. Some recover quickly, some never do. When this happens, do not solve your problems with alcohol or medication. This is where proper mindset, and preparing to win the fight are important.

    --What toll did it take on your marriage, kids, family, and friends?
    You will quickly understand which friends are worth keeping in touch with and which friends are baggage you should have discarded long ago. Do not have criminal friends, party-animal friends, whore friends, you should have friends who believe in the same fundamental things you do and accept the fact that you may have to have no friends at all because they may want to do something and your family should always come first.

    You will miss birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, family gatherings and functions which your kids want you to be at. Do yourself a favor and go out of your way to take days off for those events. If that means you do not get to go on vacation that year because you ate up all your time that year on family events. Do it. You will miss so much otherwise. The job will be here, even if you are not, you are not missing out on anything and your family should always come first - this is why you should train hard, it is why you do what you do.

    A police spouse (or significant other) is someone who understands the constraints of the job and understands that they have a very serious role in that officer's life. They are emotional support structure which exists to supplement the negative bell curve that officer experiences at work. They should know this, that is a talk which should be had early on. It may mean sleeping alone at night, it may mean not having direct contact for days sometimes, it may mean that 3am phone call and rushing to the hospital. Prepare them, explain to them the possibilities and responsibilities. If they love you, they will accept it and do what is needed. They are reason you come home at the end of the shift.

    --What are the barriers to entry for a Non-Mil?
    None, same for MIL. Don't be a criminal, don't get DUI's, don't abuse your significant other, don't be an asshole.

    --How likely is a Non-Mil to be able to join other groups within the department or skilled organization with so many experienced veterans coming available and seeking careers in Law Enforcement?
    Everyone has equal ability to go into units/assignments. If you want to be EOD, go get EOD training. If you want to be SWAT, go get a ton of training in various things. Be physically fit. If you want to be a detective, work your ass off in patrol and clear a lot of investigations. Actions always speak louder than resumes.

    --What do you recommend someone participate in at the local level to get an introduction to law enforcement or police work?
    Go for ride-alongs with perspective departments. Find local citizen academies. If you are young enough, the police explorers program is fantastic. Volunteer at your local Fire Company and/or get EMS certified and ride a bus around for a while until you get a degree and then apply to your PD.
    Imperial_WTI and BklynBacon like this.
  13. Flash22

    Flash22 Newbie

    Keep your honor and integrity, do the job for the right reasons.

    Understand politics and how to navigate through them.

    Law Enforcement is a Team sport, with that said be mindful of the colleagues that will snake bite bit you for their own advancement.

    Have an understanding of the dangers of the job and prepare yourself to win the fight. Don't count on the agency to be the sole provider of this training.

    Always find a feel good deed to do every work day. This will help balance you out and retain compassion for the people that deserve it.

    Spend time with your family.

    Be proud to be a Cop, but don't be a dick.
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  14. Jeff22

    Jeff22 Newbie

    Everything in law enforcement depends on where you live and what agency you work for.

    When researching for an agency, here are some things to consider (in no particular order):

    (1.) Find out what they pay. What’s the cost of living in that locality?

    (2.) How much VOLUNTARY overtime is available?

    (3.) How often might you be ordered in or held over? It happens to all of us sometimes, and in some places, because of the staffing level and the amount of calls for service it happens A LOT. That makes it difficult to plan anything outside of work and can interfere with daycare.

    (4.) Do they rotate shifts or do they work straight shifts? Some places have you rotate from days to evenings to midnights. Some places may have you rotate in relief between two shifts, and others just have straight shifts.

    (5.) How does the days off rotation work?

    (6.) How easy is it to get time off and how much notice do you have to give?

    (7.) Do shifts get picked on an annual basis, or do you get hired and put into a spot and don't have an opportunity to move until there is a vacancy?

    (8.) Do you have a union? How detailed is your contract?

    (9.) How much leave time do you get in a year? How much sick time? Does sick time accumulate?

    (10.) Being a cop means nights, weekends, and holidays. Depending on circumstance and your expectations, that can be really hard on family life. Or not that big a deal.

    (11.) Rookies in most places start on the midnight shift. If you can't get accustomed to working the late shift, being awake at night and sleeping during the day, maybe being the police is NOT a good idea for you.

    (12.) If you work the evening shift you won't see your wife & kid much.

    (13.) What kind of arrangements can you make for child care?

    (14.) How well is the agency staffed? How well are they equipped? Do you have a reasonable opportunity for specialized training? Do they pay education incentive for your degrees?

    (15.) How is the retirement program?

    It's hard to make any kind of blanket statement about police work as a career because there are WAY too many variables from agency to agency and from one part of the country to another.

    (I'm fortunate. I've been on straight 11p-7a BY CHOICE since 1977, because I'm a night person. I like the flexibility of working nights. My evenings are free to do things with family & friends and to do recreational things EXCEPT that I can't drink before going to work. We have rotating days off, reasonable pay (which has totally stagnated the last five years, and that's a problem) fairly good benefits, a wonderful pension system, and reasonable opportunity for voluntary overtime. As much as a few of the guys at my PD bitch and whine about everything, we have it pretty good in many ways, and they're too dumb to realize it. Of course, many of their complaints have merit, too)

    If you're married and have a wife & child, then you also have responsibilities as a husband and father. Which means you need to be home sometimes. Don't make the mistake lots of guys do, and get hired on, work evenings so you don't see your family much anyway, and THEN get on specialized units like SWAT or Search & Rescue or Narcotics or something, which places even more of a demand on your time. Take a good interest in your career, feel free to pursue interesting training & education on your own time and at your own expense once in a while, but don't let the job become your life. If you have kids, having a job assignment where you have to carry a pager and be on call all the time may NOT be a good idea . . .

    Lots of guys work all night and then babysit all day, and then try to catch a nap before going back to work at 11pm. They spend their whole life all jet lagged and burned out, and they never get to see their wife. Try to avoid that at all costs if you want to be effective at work and stay married.

    And if your non-police friends become uncomfortable or act weird around you because you're a cop, you probably need new friends . . .

    The key to happiness in Law Enforcement is this: Early in your career you should figure out what you most want to do and then try to figure out a way to do that.

    I've spent my whole career as a cop on nights. As an officer. Some people who came on when I did, or afterwards grew up to be Detectives or Sergeants or Lieutenants or Captains. One place I work, I trained the Deputy Chief when he was a rookie and in another I trained the Chief in the police academy, and in another I trained the Lieutenant . (I've worked full time for one PD and part time for three others in my career, and still work part time in a small department of a dozen officers)

    I see many of these people on a social basis once in a while, and after a few drinks they always tell me "The funnest years of my career were when I was a rookie on patrol on the late shift. I really miss those days."

    Okay, I don't miss that because I'm still doing it. Before I was ever a cop I decided being a firearms instructor was going to be a lot more fun than being in management. And it is . . . I didn’t go to school to be a cop with the goal that someday I wanted to work days and be in an office (unless it was at the range). I went to school to be a cop with the plan that I was going to be a cop for thirty years or so. In an ideal world and in an ideal situation, I probably should have been a Sergeant, but that was not to be.

    So you have to decide your purpose in the law enforcement profession. Are you there to have fun and do interesting and sometime significant things or just to promote and be miserable? Many people would like to promote and then make a difference and make things better and be a causal factor for positive change, which is a noble and correct goal. But you have to do a realistic evaluation of your circumstance and of the organizational culture, and decide if that is a realistic goal.

    And the organizational culture can change quickly when you get a new Chief or Sheriff, and go from good to bad, or bad to good, or bad to worse. And there is no way to predict that, so you have to try to protect yourself as best you can.

    I have seen guys who promote with the intention of being the advocate for the line officers with upper management. Sometimes that works, and sometimes they just get beaten down and marginalized and ignored.

    And remember people are usually stupid, and the guys you are trying to champion with the brass may not understand or appreciate your efforts, and they may turn on you and stab you in the back because they're mad because you had to turn down a vacation or training request.

    It’s best if you consider all this stuff at the beginning of your career, rather than in the middle or at the end.
    Smithjd likes this.

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