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Posted: 11/13/2002 3:50:39 PM EDT
Who has some experiance with burnout in Law Enforcement? I see myself rapidly getting to at least short-term burnout, where I really dread going into work, don't enjoy being at work, etc. Part of this is due to our very short staffing levels, and the large amounts of OT I'm working. It's also due to the fact that I'm on almost permanant graveyards, and there's almost nothing to do on a winter graveyard where I work. There are also dept. and personel issues that make it not as much fun. What I'm afraid of is ended up getting long-term burnout, where I end of leaving the field. I don't think thats what I want to do, as I'm not sure what else I would enjoy at all! Looking for suggestions, thoughts, expericnces, etc. Also, if any of you work somewhere where there are long stretches of nothing to do... what do you do? Thxs! dp
Link Posted: 11/13/2002 8:35:11 PM EDT
I feel your pain man. I'm in almost the exact same situation right now, except we usually have calls until 3:00 or 3:30A. When it gets dead, I start BS'ing the cab drivers(they love to start talking about all the stuff they see at the bars and repeat everything they hear from patrons).Good info sometimes. I wash my patrol car alot, clean firearms, dig through warrant lists for names I know(even though we can't attempt them after 10:00P), talk to gas station attendants, catch up on reports, anything keep from getting bored for hours on end. All I know is I can't wait till Jan1 when I roll over to dayshift! Sorry I could not be of more help. Graveyard sucks. jester
Link Posted: 11/13/2002 9:32:55 PM EDT
Luckily I have several other officers to talk with and kill time with. I try and stay busy up until about 3am then it's dinner time and afterwards I willl read, go exploring new places I haven't been in my patrol area, get on the county computer and look up dispositions on arrests I've made. Oh...go to all the stores with magazines and buy every gun mag you can find. That helps alot. Also, I've played god knows how many games of free cell and solitaire on my laptop in my patrol car. I'm going back to evening shift here soon and will have fri and sat's off. Yeah, I get to have a life soon!
Link Posted: 11/14/2002 8:02:30 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/14/2002 8:16:35 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/14/2002 9:54:12 PM EDT by Colt-653]
1.) Artbell---listen to all the loonies talk about Alien anal probes and UFO trips to various lands 2.) Study/read or take some online classes if you have internet or MDT's in your car. 3.) Read a new book or magazine. 4.) Gameboy 5.) Pull pranks on your buddies. Find their hideouts and mess with them. My favorite was to launch shopping carts across the parking lot into my partners car as he tried to catch a few zzz's after 0200--- the look on his face was always priceless. Graves suck, you just need to find things to do to pass the time.It's like being a little kid,just think of different things you can do that will most likely get you in trouble and then do them---just don't get caught. Presto no more boring times.
Link Posted: 11/14/2002 8:22:24 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Colt-653:5.) Pull pranks on your buddies. Find their hideouts and mess with them. My favorite was to launch shopping carts across the parking lot into my partners car as he tried to catch a few zzz's after 0200--- the look on his face was always priceless.
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LMAO! I cant wait till I'm on the job. I plan on applying in the spring.
Link Posted: 11/14/2002 10:15:16 PM EDT
Here are some more pranks that will help pass the time. 1.) If your buddies on your shift like to park and sleep, sneak up on on the car and tie stuff to it ie, shopping carts, trash cans, etc.... Get Dispatch to make a fake code 3 call and watch the sparks fly. 2.) HWY man aka Running man. If your buddies follow the same route you can pull this one with the help of an accomplice and some prep time(works best if you plan it out over a series of shifts). You need to find an empty street with lots of trees on both sides. Run a clothes line with pulleys and make a life like dummy out of a pair of sweat pants and a sweat shirt(stuffed with newspaper), add a painted styrofoam head from a wig shop with a baseball cap and a crappy pair of shoes. Have your partner in crime call your buddy to your area and tell him to hurry as you have something you really need to show him/her. As they come racing down the street pull the dummy across the street along the clothes line. This can also be done using bridges and over passes Sick but funny as hell. This was a favorite of my Academy classmate and High School friend. If you're single you can always go to the local ER and hit on the nurses. Fire departments are also a safe and warm place to hangout and they have a TV,drinks and usually good food. Just remember to find a safe place to hangout if you are planning to doze off, or partner up and sleep in shifts. There have been several officers who have been attacked while sleeping in their patrol cars.
Link Posted: 11/15/2002 2:39:25 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/15/2002 2:41:59 AM EDT by Wave]
Link Posted: 11/15/2002 2:54:47 AM EDT
Not trying to hijack this topic, but... Why can't you serve warrants after 10? Is there some sort of law about that? If it's because it's too late, that is pretty bad.
dig through warrant lists for names I know(even though we can't attempt them after 10:00P
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Link Posted: 11/15/2002 3:03:26 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Ire: Not trying to hijack this topic, but... Why can't you serve warrants after 10? Is there some sort of law about that? If it's because it's too late, that is pretty bad.
dig through warrant lists for names I know(even though we can't attempt them after 10:00P
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Misdemeanor warrants must be served at a reasonable time. That is if you are specifically looking for a subject listed on a warrant. If the officer stops a traffic offender, or talks to someone in regards to another call and learns of the warrant then the warrant can be served. Felony warrants don't have these prohibitions.
Link Posted: 11/15/2002 3:21:37 AM EDT
Ok, I got a little nervous there. I was afraid that some group somewhere had cried about warrant service after 2200. Thanks!
Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Originally Posted By Ire: Not trying to hijack this topic, but... Why can't you serve warrants after 10? Is there some sort of law about that? If it's because it's too late, that is pretty bad.
dig through warrant lists for names I know(even though we can't attempt them after 10:00P
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Misdemeanor warrants must be served at a reasonable time. That is if you are specifically looking for a subject listed on a warrant. If the officer stops a traffic offender, or talks to someone in regards to another call and learns of the warrant then the warrant can be served. Felony warrants don't have these prohibitions.
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Link Posted: 11/15/2002 3:43:44 AM EDT
Although I am not in the LE field, my brother in law is. He did the gameboy/playstation thing for a while, When I was staring work at 5:00 am, I would get up at 3:00-3:30 and make breakfast and coffee. He would stop over sometimes and have breakfast w/ me. That seemed to help. He said any human interaction was enough to wake him up. When I was in highschool, I worked the weekend graveyard shift at a 24-7 type gas station. I knew every cop on the beat, cause they would stop in and talk for a while. before long, I started scrambling eggs and frying bacon for them...courtesy of the Travel Mart of course. Word got around and soon not just city boys were there, but county deputies as well. The boss didn't care, cause it meant safety for me and the store. Hell, one officer even dispatched a raccoon that scared the crap out of me when I took the garbage out to the dumpster. I came back in and said there was a raccoon out there, Dean set his coffee down, unholstered his sidearm and retrieved his flashlight from the vehicle....several seconds later, I heard a shot. He came back in and didn't say a word, just picked up his coffee and acted as if nothing happened. I guess whatever it takes to avoid burnout and keep the sanity level normal.
Link Posted: 11/15/2002 5:55:46 AM EDT
Link Posted: 11/15/2002 7:38:44 AM EDT
Thanks for all the ideas, guys, some of them I've tried, some of them I will. Definitly going to try to dig out the old gameboy from somewhere and get it up and running. We're supposed to be getting MDT's soon, and that will help some, to. (of course, we been supposed to have them for several months now, but...) Cody, I work in too much of an urban area for gunshots not to be heard... not that anyone would try pellet guns or anything, either. Jester, I know what you're talking about... no warrant service attempts after about 2200 for us, and no holidays, either. (exceptions for major warrants, but you better be right about where they are.) I'm also in a small enough town that we have very few 24hr. places, and at one of the gas stations, I've written the night guy multiple tickets... Thanks again to all for the encouragement. I'm also looking at moving, and changing departments, which just might open up some other options for me. dp
Link Posted: 11/15/2002 8:53:53 AM EDT
Im not LEO, but I treat LEO in my clinic. Police, nurses, paramedics and firemen are all abused, misused and under appreciated. First unless the OT is mandatory. Don't work it. This will do 2 things immediately, it will give you time away, which is what you need, and it will force the money mongers to hire additional officers. Everybody is going to bitch, let them. Its your survival we are talking about. Second, rekindle the things in your life that are the most enjoyable. Your Family should be #1 on that list. Third, talk with your Doc, PA, NP whoever you can confide in for medical problems, and stress adaptation. Fourth, learn a new skill. Habla Espanol? it will add an new facet to you. Fifth, look for a new position in another department, but only change if its truly a better position for you. Lebrew
Link Posted: 11/15/2002 9:47:42 AM EDT
lebrew, thanks for your reply, those are great suggestions. I'm working on lots of those things now. Cutting back on the OT, getting involved in other stuff, maybe going back to school... The move we're thinking about has actually been planned for a while, it's mostly for family and long-term options, although it might get moved up due to issues at work. On that note, anyone here in the Columbus, Oh area? That's most likely where we're going to move to, and I'm starting to look at my options for work there. Thanks, dp
Link Posted: 11/15/2002 10:37:16 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/16/2002 12:33:38 AM EDT
Having been through an administration from hell, I can relate to the burnout issues. I know of lots of people that changed departments that wished they could go back, so think very carefull before you accept any new job offers. I love the night shift. I may have quiet days and such, but that's when getting together with co-workers is good for "Information Sharing," if you get a long with them. It's also a good time to be involved in projects of your own. Take a look through sites like calibrepress and policeone, where they have information relating to survival you can read. Get together with another officer and do some training, such as find an empty city building and clear it. Do you have a co worker you can do this with? How about neighboring agencies or the county? Any of them you can work with? The key is finding something you're interested in. Another thing that has been rarely touched is the off time. OT can really wear you down. find someway to treasure your off time, and if it means screening phone calls so you can't get called in, so be it. Find hobbies that allow you to get away from the policework and relax...shooting comes to mind...:P
Link Posted: 11/16/2002 5:33:34 AM EDT
Running saved my life. I hate to run. A few years ago, I was starting to get fat and was approaching 30. I saw our older morbidly obese Sergeants, and realized that they were only a half a decade away from me. I started regular exercise, again, and it has worked wonders. Since then, our whole department has been through an excellent institutional stress course, and they highly stress the importance of aerobic exercise in dealing with stress. In one instance they gave in class, a 15 year officer at a major agency was about one more complaint/supervisor write-up away from getting fired. They sent him to the department's shrink, a former beat cop who is also the guy who teaches our class. His solution: no "sessions" or anything funky; he sent the burned-out officer to the academy every afternoon to run with the cadets for a month. At the end of the month, the officer's attitude had completely turned around. As far as slow nights, I usually saved up my paper and just kept running until about 0300, then went back and typed up my reports. The "entertainment" options may sound nice, but sticking to work-related stuff, here are a few others I can suggest: 1) Do business and building checks; get out of the car and walk around. Gets you some exercise, a change of pace, and you may find something. We used to even put out door hangers that let folks know we checked their business, which is great for community relations. 2) Get with a couple other officers, and practice your building clearing techniques on houses or businesses under construction. We actively encourage our guys to do this to stay fresh on the tactics we teach them and reinforce at in-service tatical training. 3) Get the materials, and study for the Sergeant's exam. I am prepping now, and wish I would have started last year. 4) If you have access to the firearms facility, start scheduling late-night/early morning range sessions. If you don't get with your firearms trainers and see about setting things up. Don't worry, you'll get past this. Just be careful; cops without about 3-5 years on the job have a great experience base and are very capable, but those are also the typical "burn-out" years, and the time when you are most likely to screw up and get disciplined. Stay safe, and keep your wits about you. And run.
Link Posted: 11/18/2002 2:47:46 PM EDT
It’s now apparent to me that I am a freak. I actually work graveyard shift by choice and have for years. My particular area is busy enough to provide activity at any hour. If I’m not being dispatched to calls for service, there are usually other things to do (traffic, chase around the gangsters/dope users/thieves, etc.).
Link Posted: 11/19/2002 2:15:18 PM EDT
I know with us ... we work nights all the time (there is relatively no work during the day ... safer at night) ... and have had to learn to deal with school in the day and working nights ... portable tv's are good if you get decent reception ... but in the boonies they are terrible books work ... my personal fave is modern quantum mechanics ... since when I drive the truck I can't exit (now how easy would it be to rob me if i did) ya get kinda stir crazy ... keep things cool and make sure there is noise that isnt patterned (engine humm etc) ... keep the radio up good and loud on service when we are in soft skinned vehicles its a different story ... good fun to play tricks on people ... like say cover the windows of another van with shaving cream when they are snozing inside ...
Link Posted: 11/20/2002 2:43:49 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 3:22:46 PM EDT
It would be helpful to know where you are time-wise in your career; a degree of burn-out is to be expected over the course of a 20 year career. Being able to recognize that and how to deal with it is important for making it to 20 years. The suggestions so far have been on the money. Look up some of the books from Calibre Press that deal with this subject for additional ideas.
Link Posted: 11/22/2002 4:22:27 PM EDT
YES, WHATS YOUR TIME LINE AT? 5YRS-10-15? IF YOU ARE IN A DECENT SIZE DEPT. GO AND TALK WITH YOUR CHAIN OF COMMAND AND SEE IF THEY CAN DO SOMETHING, IE: PUT YOU IN ANOTHER AREA FOR A WHILE/ DIFF. JOB ETC. IF NOTHING CAN BE DONE AND YOU HAVEN'T BEEN THERE LONG TRY AND LOOK AT A CLOSE BY DEPT. FOR LATERAL. THIS IS THE MAIN REASON I WORK FOR A LARGE DEPT. HELPS TO KEEPS THE OPTIONS OPEN A LITTLE. A FEEL THE HURT TOO, ITS ONLY BEEN 10YRS FOR ME AND IVE DONE ALL THREE SHIFTS. WE ARE GOING BACK TO 8HR DAYS COME JAN. AND LEAVING THE 12HR SHIFT. I'M GOING "BACK" TO MIDNIGHTS FOR A CHANGE OF PACE MYSELF...
Link Posted: 11/23/2002 4:42:41 PM EDT
I'm only three years into my career. Part of the problem is I work for a small dept. (30 sworn) so there is not a lot of room to move to different assignments. I would actually like to stay on patrol a few more years. Part of my frustration also comes from a serious lack of training, and how the training is handed out. I think for me, it would help a lot if I could specialize a little on patrol. I've got some preferences, but I'd take just about anything that would at least occasionally let me do something a little different. I'm trying to get on our SWAT team (obviously, a call-out, not full-time assignment.) I'm also taking on some small extra assignments, including trying to revamp the dept. website, run statistics for call loads, etc. Thanks to everyone, these ideas have been very helpful the past week. (so has looking forward to a few days off around t-giving!) dp
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 3:27:28 PM EDT
Your agency is about the same size as mine; I don't know where you fall within the seniority pile, but in all honesty, three years is a bit soon to be expecting to be doing anything BUT patrol. It takes two years for an officer just to be well-rounded enough to no longer be called a rookie..in other words, in two years, the average officer has seen most of the things that they will have to deal with on the Job for their patrol area. You've barely passed that mark. If your agency has a lot of turn-over, you may see special assignments in a couple of years. If you are low on the seniority totem pole, it will be years til you are high enough on the pile to start getting special assignments. You will have to figure out how you're going to deal with the Job in the meantime. If you aren't being given slots in schools, send yourself. I've done it for years. Its good that you are looking for areas to branch out into. Just rethink why you got into this job.....this job is 99% boredom, and you need to find ways to fill in the slow times so you don't go crazy. At the same time, don't be in a rush. Get some more experience under your belt.
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 5:23:34 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/25/2002 5:27:37 PM EDT by racer934]
Not a LEO here, but offering up what my Trooper brother does to keep burnout at bay... Got back to his dojo. He is a blackbelt in kempo and helps a lot. Plus, his running and weights keep him fit. He lost a lot of weight while in the academy - he's trying to put it back on. Training. He tries to attend as much professional/personal training or seminars as he can. Firearms, tactics, driving, computer crime, bombs and working to finish his few credits needed for his JLA degree. BSing. He calls or visits my place as I live in his typical patrol area. Hard for him to talk to non-LEO types about work. Can't give gory details about work to our parents. I have seen my fair share of ugly stuff and it helps him to talk about the bad side of police work. Shooting. My ammo budget has gone through the roof sice he has been on the job! [:D] We have both become active in our local IDPA club and we hit the range a few times a month. Not only is it relaxing to shoot and eat meat afterwards, it could save his ass sometime! Personal Time. If he has the time off coming to him, he takes it. He has a life outside of his uniform and takes advantage of it. He has no family of his own, but spends time to travel with his g/f and hangs out with me, my g/f and our parents. Practical jokes. He has a very twisted sense of humor and uses it at work - like, showing up to roll call with an ASP Red Gun in his holster. Using the pets.com handpuppet as a training aid, as he is trying to go K9, etc. On the road, he has become much more vigilant. he has opened up some decent sized cans o' worms late at night. Keeps him interested and busy. And, eventhough he may be a resume builder, keeping an eye open to other opportunties both within and out of his department keeps him interested in the field of LE. Hope some of this helps, good luck. Edit to add: I saw that you mentioned that training is scare. My bro is in the same boat. He has found, however, that a lot of professional training, and even range time, can be tax deductable. Why not try to get some of your hard-earned cash back from Uncle Sam. -934
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 8:25:36 PM EDT
I got into LE in 1996. It took me a while, but I finished my BA while working midnights. I have worked only mids since 1998, and wouldn't have it any other way. All my court is overtime, I work with better street cops with less brass, and I feel as if I'm genuinely contributing. The shitbags are out at night. They know that you are bored, and theytake dvantage of that. Make alot of traffic stops, even for bullshit violations. Things escalate quickly, and you could be into a major trafficking case before you know it. Folow your gut, your experience, senior officers, and be safe!
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 8:32:37 PM EDT
Got a nice one at 0430 this morning. Rolled up on a car with CA tags parked behind a shopping center. Two males sleeping inside, with a blunt (weed rolled in a cigar wrapper) in plain view in the ashtray. 2 more units show up, and we tap on the glass. They wake up startled, but try to hide the dope, so I yank one out of the passenger seat, and we secure them both in cuffs for the investigation. Passenger has two big knots of cash ($3500), and no way to explain it other than he's a bouncer at a bar, and gets paid in cash (yeah right!). I start to search the passenger compartment incident to arrest, and find 2 owe-sheets, 4 cell phones, both of their NYC ID's, a one way ticket from La Guardia to San Diego, and a rental car agreement from San Diego. Hmmmmm, so now the game really begins! My partner and I start tearing into the car, and a door opens into the trunk, so we call for K9. Meanwhile, we pop the hood, and start looking for the stash. We really had to look close, but there was a small hole in the drivers side fender well, and I could see something that wasn't quite right. My partner comes over, and there it is. Cellophane! Now what car do you know of that offers cellophane inside the fender well, as a factory option? We tear apart the fender well, and viola'! 3 kilos of shitty brick pack Mexican! Seized the car, cell phones, owe-sheets, money, the works. Good thing the boys were packed for a long trip, because they are looking at a 20 year mandatory minimum! Most Police departments would have woke them up, ran them through the system, and cut them loose, but not in Stafford. Good place to live. Good place to work. Well, unless you're a criminal. Roy
Link Posted: 11/26/2002 2:03:25 PM EDT
Good collar! What happened...they couldn't find Bragg hill? The FLs article didn't do it justice...but then that's typical. I keep looking for something like that (especially at the "welcome Center") but they don't seem to stay in the city very long. Again, good work.
Link Posted: 11/27/2002 6:57:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/27/2002 6:58:46 PM EDT by ColtRifle]
To combat burnout keep your mind busy. There are many ways to do that (many of which are listed above). Keeping physically busy is good but mentally busy is even better. Try getting a vehicle chess board and playing chess with another officer. You can make a single game last for days. A few moves a night and you can study your options on your own. Of course this only really works on the night shift. Please always keep safety in mind too. And never forget that our primary reponsiblity is to the community that we work in. I always look for things to check out and do (such as look for deer and wildlife). Sometimes I get out and check out new construction and empty houses. Gives me ideas for when I one day buy or build my own house. Find a law enforcement related subject and spend time researching it (my latest is wound ballistics). Keep your mind busy and the shift will fly by. This is only for a couple of nights that I work. The rest of the time we are too busy to have to keep occupied.
Link Posted: 11/27/2002 11:44:08 PM EDT
I wrote down everything that I Could do. hunt dope, hunt warrants, expired tags ect... cut them apart and I draw one out of the jar before I go to work.... then that night is set aside for that... so... tonight was dope night.... I got 5 grams of happy hippie hay.... This won't work if your town rolls up the sidewalks at night though... practical jokes work wonders too...
Link Posted: 12/2/2002 8:39:28 PM EDT
During the down time get out of foot and explore small parts of your patrol area in detail. Spend 2 or 3 hours at an intersection sometime learning all the back alleys, strairwells, janitor closets, ect. When you think you have it all down, climb onto the roof of the tallest building and see how it looks from that angle.
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