I am a 25 year old professional who is on the fast track to make partner in my firm and a six figure salary. I have the traits that make this possible including a personality which is lacking in my profession. I have been advancing well above the pace of my peers and handed repsonsibility most dont get until the age of 30. I like my job, its fun at times and I am good at it. It is intellectually challening which I do really like. However I cannot envision myself doing this for years on end, I just dont see myself happy doing it. I do not love my job.
I had always wanted to be a law enforcement officer. While in college, I received some sage advice from my father who I greatly admire and respect. When I told him what I wanted to do, he simply said "I am not wasting $120,00 for you to throw your life away to become a police officer. You are to smart for that and it would be a waste of your talents and your life." Yes he paid for school, his father booted him out when he was 18 and he wanted to not do the same for his children. Anyways, I did not become a LEO but instead followed my fathers path. As I said before, its not like I dont like my job or profession, I just know its not for me.
So my questions for you are this, because these are what matters to me.
1.) What do you like about your job?
2.) What is the worst part of your job?
3.) If you had it to do over, would you become a LEO again? Or would you honestly choose a different career path?
When I have kids, I would like my wife to stay home with them as they grow. I think this is so much better for them.
4.) If you have children, do you find it hard being a LEO and having to raise kids at the same time?
5.) If you do have kids, and know taking another job would make their life extremely comfortable, would you take that other job? Rethink question number 3.
I appreciate any help you can provide, thanks.
I've never seen my father more proud of me than the day he got to pin my badge on me. Both of my parents know that I could be making a lot more money than I do as a police officer, but they would rather see my in a career that I find rewarding and that makes me happy. I would love to make a six figure salary, but in order to do that, I would have to betray myself and my desire to do something that I find meaningful. I just can't see myself ever being happy in a job were my sole function is to turn a profit for a company, and in return, they pay me well, but would drop me in a heart beat if they needed to save a buck. I used to work for a fortune 500 company, and I can honestly say that I have never been more miserable. Being surrounded by money hungry people was sickening, to no end.
I have many talents that could help to serve me a great deal, financially, but I just can't justify using my talents to serve me, and me alone. I am much more happy using my other talents to serve others, and my country.
1.) What do you like about your job?
It is actually fun, it's rewarding, and there is much more camaraderie in law enforcement than any business environment. I also get cool toys, guns, and chicks dig a man in uniform.
2.) What is the worst part about your job?
It's thankless. The vast majority of the public doesn't understand the role and function of law enforcement on a local, state, and federal level.
3.) If you had it to do over, would you become an LEO again?
Yes, and hell yes. Only, I would not have waited 5 years to do it. I would have done it when I became 21.
I don't have kids, so I can't honestly comment on the rest of the questions.
LEO for nine years now. I became a LEO because I wanted to drive fast and carry a gun, oh...and I did not want to work on jet engines anymore . I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie so the 1% of the time that the shit is hitting the fan appeals to me, the other 99% of my time is slow and routine. LEOs are a close bunch, but at times too close. Kinda like brothers and sisters getting into family fights.
I work a 5-2, 5-3 work week from 1445-2300 hrs. Add on court, meetings, madatory over time, and training and I sometimes feel I am never home. The money is Ok (approximatley $75,000), but I am not going to get rich. Good thing I have a sugar mama .
Most LEOs are not some dumb Barney Fiff. Most around here have Police Sciece, and Criminal Justice Degrees. Although, some of the most educated people I know do the stupidest crap. As a LEO you must have common sense. (rant mode on) Please, no cocky, power hungry, racist, lazy, non-working, bitching about taking calls folks apply. (rant mode off)
I have a nine year old and a 9 month old . The long hours are hard because some weeks I am just not around. Countless holidays have come and gone that I misssed because of shift work. My nine year old knows what I do as a cop and has talked to me about her fears of me getting hurt/killed. She is afraid that I will be hit by a car on a traffic stop or hurt in a fight . The first time she opened up to me was a real shocker for me. I never knew she worried about me at work. The wife kinda gets a little scared too at times. Wife also gets pritty mad when we have plans and that late arrest comes in and blows your plans, or get called in on your day off because someone called in sick.
I would not change what I do, unless I was paid to go waterskiing/boating/shooting. I have thought about other jobs, but nothing seems right for me except being a LEO. Most of what sucks about police work comes from police administration and lazy coworkers. The public bitching, drugs, death, accidents, etc do not really bother me at all. (except dead kids).
Try a ride along or a citizen police gig first. It sounds like you would be walking away from a well paying job. Be very careful for what you wish for....you just might get it. Plenty of LEO jobs in AZ. I was recently looking out there.
My dad and mom made no offers to send me through college. My dad offered me $10K to do something else when I told him my plans. When I wouldn't back down from LE, he made some dumb comment about buying another life insurance policy. I put myself through school and here I am, 12+ years later.
1)Never the same thing each day. Hip deep in the action as it happens. Doing and knowing things that many other people would never dream of doing and couldn't be trusted knowing. The danger aspect appeals to me as well and it is a bit of a rush to be involved in certain calls. The comaraderie with some officers, guys that you'd walk through the bowels of Hell with without giving it a second thought. The occasions where you can actually impact someone's life (not many, so take them when you get them) and make it better. If they're an asshole(plenty of these), make it worse. If I want to be active, I can be. If I have a cold or am sick, I can lay low somewhat.
2)I am fond of saying that I deal with a lot of assholes at work, and then I leave the office to go on patrol. Sergeant stripes, LT or Captain bars or any other higher rank doesn't make them instantly smarter, have more common sense, or give two shits about anything that doesn't directly impact their little world. Not all admin are like this, but 90% that I see and deal with have forgotten where they came from, are unsafe, want no type of conflict in their lives and will ignore anything that makes them have to make a decision. I am a street cop and a union member, and I can see that agencies need more internal discipline ... not the nit-picky BS, but hammering on those that abuse certain perks of our job...
Getting late calls in the shift that make you late getting home, dealing with drunks(are there any sober people left?), being raked over the coals in the media and not being allowed to reply, seeing many ways to solve an issue and having your admin take the most expensive and least productive route.......Dude, there are an assload of bad things about this job...and I could go on......but that leads me to #3
3)I wouldn't do anything else. I am proud to be a part of the front line, of a huge family of police officers, deputies, troopers, agents.......no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I'd help any one of them without a second thought. I can think of only one other profession, that of our military, where you will find that type of support system.
If your dad still has a problem with it, too bad. Ask your dad if his $120,000 would be worth the life of someone you and you alone would save in the future. Ask him if it'd be worth your arresting some animal from raping ten more women or sodomizing ten more children. There is no telling what type of impact YOU will have on society in whatever jurisdiction you would work. Your college could have cost twenty times that amount and if you're there to make a difference to those ten women, those ten kids, some old lady in a car wreck that killed her husband of 50+ years, etc, how much do you think that is worth to THEM?
You cannot put a price on that. Or the lawyer jokes that we tell at briefing.
Best to you,
Some more thoughts:
My mom was pissed when I joined the Navy. Scared her to death. She flew out to CA to see me graduate boot camp. After I got out, she told me it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Then I told her I was going to be a cop. Once again she was pissed and scared. She still came to my graduation and cried as she touched my badge. Damm proud moment.
As some of the others have said, being a cop gives my life some meaning. My pals would go to hell and back for me as I would for them without a second thought. How would a person place a dollar amount on a Valor award, or when is the last time a buddy at your firm looked at you and said (picture this behind a ballistic shield) "whatever happens, me and you are coming out of this". The feeling you get when you take a DUI off the street and someone thanked you. That feeling you get when you arrest that guy for beating his wife or whipping is kids with an extension cord . Or, the feeling you get seeing a child dead. Watching that wife go back to the man beating her and her kids. The list is long.
If you let someone else choose your couse in life, you will only end up at that persons destination. LEOs trust their instinct, only you can answer if you should become a LEO.
Either way, good luck.
My work day is never the same, good job security, get to help people, and get to put bad guys behind bars. Drawbacks for most LE are working nights, PM's, weekends and holidays. Dealing with difficult people day in and out will take it's toll, unless you have the personality to deal with it.
Why not go into the reserves and keep your day job?
Gave up a highpaying career.. I now make between 25 and 30% of my old pay. I do miss the money. I have to budget for toys.
You should consider several ridealongs. Mostly at night. Because it is rare that anyone gets days. Forget about spending holidays with the family for at leas 5 years. Going out on Friday & Saturday. Not going to happen. You'll be at the bars, in a fight. But not drinking.
You'll miss many of you child's events. But if you can survive on less sleep you can go to their school during the day.
Your personality will change somewhat. It's a survival thing. Generally if you venture out during the day people will be nice to you and have respect for what you do. While the good people are asleep dreaming of paying the bills, putting braces on the kids teeth, projects, meetings etc. You will be lurking around in the dark with the Goblins. Much of what you deal with won't be on the news. When it is, don't expect them to get it even remotely right.
The job is fun with a capital F. I know of no-one and I mean NONE that do this job to get rich.
If you family is trying to get by on one income, you will have a decent lower middle class lifestyle. Okay retirement.
The kid thing is a tough one. Show and tell for the little ones; Mommy who's a CPA and has a fantastic job isn't the one who gets put on displayhere
I will tell you this. I shot competitively for years with some very fine officers before I decided to make the change. I thought I had half a clue. I didn't . If anyone tells you they know anything about what the job is like and they haven't done it, I'd be checking to see if they were on meds. Now if their dad or mom was, or were married to an officer, I'd be all ears. Again (It's a jeep thing you wouldn't understand)heBe prepared to arrest someone you know. It happens.
Be okay with your mortality. Not to be morbid. BUT It can be dangerous. WWW.ODMP.ORG
I hope that this gives you a little insight. I am by no means an authority. I'm just living it day to day.
Im an ex-cop. The things I dont miss are:
Getting a really shitty domestic at the end of shift (0630am) and knowing you MUST complete all relevant paperwork if you have to arrest and charge (3-4hours minimum in australia)
The best learning stations are in the worst area of the city. You will be so busy going from job to job that your head will spin off. Staying on top of paperwork and Briefs of Evidence for court may become really stressful.
Having to take a child at risk from their parents. Without doubt the most dangerous thing every..Think about it...taking a child from thier mother or father...yeah they're a junkie POS, but its thier child your taking....Yeah your saving the child but its freakin'heavy...
Secondary OC contamination in a fight
Being threatened with knives/having bricks etc thrown at you from highrises
Things I do miss:
Pride about doing a special, special job
Vehicle pursuits: so dangerous but its the best fun you can have with your pants on! Lights and sirens, always a footpursuit at the end...praying you dont crash or the bad guy doesnt crash or kill an innocent
My old teammates
Wearing the uniform and helping someone
Cop humour: You will never understand until your on the job!
JUST DO IT! YOU WILL LOVE IT -IF YOU GET IN!
1. What I like about my job:
a) Every day is different.
b) I have "job security".
c) I work for "oganized government" that provides "benefits" (med ins, pay raise, etc).
d) My son and daughter seem very proud of my profession, son thinks it's "cool".
e) My parents/in-laws/wife are very proud of me and my profession.
f) For the most part, citizens respect my career field and "trust me".
g) I get to work with "like minded" career professional, for the most part.
h) I have plenty of career progression opportunities.
i) Although most don't believe it, I REALLY DO GET TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
j) Finally, and the big one... NOTHING BEATS THE THRILL OF MATCHING WITS WITH AN "EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL", GETTING HIM/HER IN "CHECKMATE", AND TAKING HIM/HER TO JAIL.
2. The worst part of my job:
a) Lack of will on the part of the States Atty's Office to do "battle". Common eveyrwhere.
b) Dealing with apathetical victims that are scared to stand up for themself.
c) The inherent LIABILITY of being a cop nowdays, damned if you do, Damned if you don't.
d) Citizens forget that you are still HUMAN.
3. Would I do it all over again?
That's the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION... There are days when I seriously desire a career change. It almost ALWAYS centers around #2a and #2c above. As a cop, you are where the terd ball stops when "shit rolls downhill".
Ask any seasoned cop and he/she will tell you that when shit goes wrong, the blame some how always makes it back to the patrol officer because he/she could have/should have done something different. It takes time to learn to deal with this problem. Stong leadership within a department minimizes this to some degree, weak leadership generates as much of this as the public.
Today, I'm in a good mood and I am glad to be in my profession, tomorrow may be a different story .
4. Raising a kid as a cop:
Not sure what you mean by this ie. time off, fear of dad getting hurt, etc.
My job does not/has not interferred with my family life and I have worked for three different agencies, two as a supervisor. We work 15 days a month, 12 hour shifts. I have way more time off now than I ever did (20 years Army).
5. I would change jobs if it meant more $$ and I knew that I would be happy doing what ever the new job was. I would stay in LE as a Reserve Officer to stay "current" and still have fun doing the LEO job.
I used to think this was a myth. HA! They're out there alright, and they can be some of the most psychotic chicks you've ever met.
If you find the right department, you may be able to have the best of both worlds. We have a number of auxiliary officers on my department that make far more money at their "real job" than they would as a police officer. Or they have decided to keep a "regular job" for family considerations, even though they love police work.
The departments aux. program allows them to be real (i.e. sworn and academy certified) police officers but they don't have as much of a strain put on their families (or their finances). It is tough for them for the first 2 years because they have to balance between family, work and the academy (and field training) but once they make it through all of that, they are full fledged police officers and patrol the city on their own.
An added bonus, if they decide that they want to be a full-time police officer, their training and certifications are good anywhere in the state. Some guys have walked away from six figure salaries to be full-time cops and never looked back....but they had the benefit that when they made their decision they were fully aware of what they were getting into.
ETA: If you do decide to try the auxiliary/reserve thing, shop around if you can. highdraglowspeed's comment about being looked at as a "step brother" is true on some departments. But on some departments you get looked at as a "step child" and on a few, you are looked at as a true brother. My department is like this, but it is because about 80% of the departments full-time officers (about 60 people) started out as auxiliaries.
I enjoy the variety most of all. My last pre-LE job was in human resources, and every day, down to the minute, was identical up to about lunch time. Not so with LE. I've had days with 2 calls, and I've had them with 30. As a detective, I've worked some really good cases, and some that sucked and were doomed to be shit-canned before I even got them, but the challenge was still there.
The holidays, sad to say, don't mean as much to me. I've worked six of the last eight Christmases, and as my daughter gets older it might be a bigger issue, but for now we just celebrate a day early.
I can understand that. You meet a much better class of people in police work.
I need money to buy a rock.
I worked 17 years as leo in all aspects investigations to traffic. Retired now due to in line of duty disabilatyhereThat being said law enforcement is a calling and if it's in your blood you just gota do it.
Can you comp a brother in?
The tin will get you in.
Yeah...I wanna know what sick, twisted world you live in where a flash of the tin don't get you in gratis...I mean, bar check dude...ya know?
Some things I hate about being the PO-lice:
-Everyone I meet assuming I am a JBT right off the bat.
-Quotas. Anyone whos says there aren't qutoas in law enforcement is LYING to you. A "performance goal" is a quota.
-The cynicism that creeps in after dealing with nothing but shitbags on a nightly basis.
-Idiots in admin who go out of their way to hamstring road guys and investigators.
-"You just stopped me becuase I'm black." Yep...you caught me. Quick, call Rev. Jackson.
-"I know the mayor." Sweet. Me too. You going to the pool-party on Friday at his house?
-Tasers. Yes...I hate tasers. Because now, after all the hysteria, civillians point to mine and say "You know that thing kills people right?".... *groan*.
-Helpless people. I mean, utterly helpless, as in, "My toillet is overflowing...I don't know what to do. I know, I'll call the police!"
Things I love about being the PO-lice:
-My giant crowd-control OC fogger.
-Taking recruits to their first postmortem.
-Shots fired calls. It's even better when you're just an assist and the poor primary dude gets stuck with the body and the paper.
I had close to the same experience. I chose a different field though, a military policeman in the Army. My dad thought i was friggin stupid and told me so up till the day I shipped out.
I had never seen my dad so proud of me as the day I graduated OSUT. Well, until I got home for leave anyways. Everyone he talked to: "My son just graduated basic and is an MP now!"
LOL. Do what your heart wants and be happy doing what you are doing. I know that this soldiering thing is not something I want to do forever, I want to settle down after this enlistement and get me a good wife and a couple rugrats. I just want to make sure I take advantage of every oportunity I can while I do this job, so that when i get out, I can provide for them.