Working as a police officer is a great career for anyone who wants a job where they feel that they can really make a difference on any given day. The job comes with a decent salary, excellent benefits, and a great retirement.
It is a difficult process to eventually make it to the academy and land a spot wherever there is a need. The hiring process is very lengthy, for a good reason. They need to make sure that each candidate is a good fit for the rigors of police work.
You’re not just going to walk in, submit an application, and jump right into a job. The whole process, start to finish, can take upwards of a year. The background check process alone can take a few months, so it’s important to understand that it will be a process.
However, once you are approved and start working, the job itself can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. With those rewards will come some significant changes to your life that you need to be prepared to experience.
The freedom of your old life will be replaced by the responsibility of the job. Those easy Friday nights where I could relax and sit around playing video games and enjoying the freedom of my youth are now spent working.
The weekends are the busiest time for most police departments and those times are when they need more people available. You will find yourself having to bow out of different social events because you are scheduled to work.
This isn’t the type of job where you can just call off and pick up the missed work the next day. People are relying on you to be there for them. Your friends and family will have to understand the importance of your new job and will hopefully be supportive.
You might also miss the special events for your friends, family, and even your children. I can’t even begin to count the birthdays and other special events I’ve missed because I had to work.
As long as your friends and family are supportive, this shouldn’t be too big of a sacrifice. They will understand the severity of your job and just how much you are needed to help protect the public. You have to accept that you might miss some pretty significant events during the course of your career.
Connecting to the information above, you can expect to be working on holidays. Sure you want to spend the New Year with your wife, girlfriend, or family, but holidays are an extremely busy time for police officers.
You have to be comfortable with this before you decide on a career in law enforcement. The holidays are an extremely busy time for police officers. The increased traffic and incidents surrounding the holiday means that each department will need the maximum number of officers available to work.
My family always throws a huge party of the 4th of July. Since becoming a police officer, I haven’t been able to attend once. The commitment that you make to become a police officer is one that comes with a certain amount of sacrifice. Your fellow officers will need you to handle the chaos that often comes during the holiday season.
It’s a promise that you make to the public and your fellow officers. You will be there for them when you are needed. This is a great responsibility, but one that will give you a sense of purpose every single day you show up to work.
There are very few people who truly understand the demands of the job, and your friendships will change as your career progresses. Some of the childhood friendships that you had growing up will start to dwindle over time. You will find a new group of friends with your fellow officers.
Most police officers spend their off time with other officers. They understand exactly what you are going through, especially when you have a difficult situation that you’re trying to deal with.
Even though your group of friends will become smaller, those friendships that you have with your fellow officers will be like family. Those bonds, once formed, are very difficult to break and you’ll have a core group of friends like you’ve never had before in your life.
Let’s face it, the world today is digital. Everyone records themselves doing everything, and that includes being stopped by the police. You will have video of your interactions floating around YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and any and all platforms.
You need to have thick skin when you become a police officer. People are often unhappy about being caught breaking the law, and they will take to social media to talk about their experiences with you. The public often forgets that police officers are regular people too.
You have to keep in mind that this isn’t a personal attack on you. Nobody likes being called out for doing something wrong, and it is important that you keep that in the back of your mind. It can be difficult seeing yourself being talked about, when you know that you were just trying to do your job to the best of your abilities.
This is the part of the job that most people don’t like to think about. It is the reality of the job that you will see and experience things that can be very disturbing. I remember seeing a dead body for the first time, and another that was a fatal accident in the middle of a very intersection. These were images that can stick with you.
This is the unfortunate reality of the job, and there will be days that will leave you shocked. Everyone handles this type of stress differently, and it is important to seek professional help if you are struggling to cope with this aspect of the job.
Most larger police agencies, have some amazing psychologists and counselors on staff who understand exactly what being on the job entails (Read Common Caused of PSTD in Law Enforcement). The good news is that they are there to help you cope with the parts of the job that might affect you negatively. Take advantage of these services, getting help is never a sign of weakness or that you can’t handle the job. It just means your human and have compassion for others.
Being a police officer is a great and fulfilling job. You will know that you are making a difference in the lives of the people you interact with on a daily basis. Sure, it will come with some changes to your personal life, but those changes are worth all the benefits you will experience with your time on the job.