Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

So You Want To Be A Police Officer

Becoming a police officer is generally a tough job. Depending upon the jurisdiction, only about one in one hundred people who start the application process ever make it to the street and off probation. To say that there is a rather high drop-out rate is not an exaggeration. So who are these people who make law enforcement a career? I believe it was former LAPD Chief of Police Darrel Gates who reminded us that police officers come from the general population. Gates was telling us that these people, while generally extraordinary, are not supermen, or superwomen as the case may be.

But, what happens to these extraordinary people as they progress through their careers? What do those unique stresses from within and without the employing agency do to a person? Beside the physical and emotional damage that often short-circuits a career, attitudes shift and create protective mechanisms to ensure that the coveted retirement status is attained. Sometimes those changes destroy the essence of why a person chose the career in the first place.

Published on the web site of active and retired officers from the Port Authority of NY and NJ is an excellent piece by retired Paddy Heslin entitled “Police Officer Stages."

If you are a cop, were a cop, live with a cop, or are close to a cop you will recognize alot of the following:

FASCINATION STAGE - 1st thru 4th year of Law Enforcement.
For most officers, this is their first time outside of the middle classbubble. They have never seen a dead body, never seen life-threatening injuries, never dealt with a family disturbance, never witnessed the squaller some people call "living life", and never really understood the phrase "Man's Inhumanity To Man" until now.

They believe the Department runs with the same attention to detail and efficiency as Joe Friday's Dragnet TV show....everyone is dedicated & committed, everyone is competent, everyone is on the same page and working towards the same high-minded goals. When they finally go home to their spouse/significant other, they tell them everything they did and saw; they are wired up. Some of the more "eaten up" purchase a police scanner at Radio Shack so they can hear the radio calls while at home.

HOSTILITY STAGE - 4th thru 6th year

They now show up for work about 2 minutes before their shift, and they are hiding out about 30 minutes before end of shift, writing reports so they can just throw them in the sergeant's in-box and leave ASAP. They have to get to their second job to earn money to pay for the divorce that is pending. Their spouse is no longer interested in hearing about all the gore and heartache. They get the "you spend more time with the cops than you do with me" speech.

They now know how the lieutenant got those silver bars on his collar. They consider the State, the city, and all brass to be as dangerous as any viper. They gripe about everything, drink excessively, chase women, and hate the public, politicians, media, etc. They feel they have more in common with the hookers, thieves, dopers, etc.. but hate them too.

Those pens that write in the rain are no longer needed. Writing traffic citations can be a lot more trouble than they are worth, even on a nice day To write one, or to write anything while standing in the rain, is a sure sign of an insane person.

SUPERIORITY STAGE - 7th thru 15th years

This is when cops are at their best. They have survived changes in administration.

They know how the political game is played, both inside and outside of the department.

They know who they can trust and who they can't.

They have select friends within the department, and stay away, as best they can, from the nuts and boot-lickers.

They know the legal system, the judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, etc.They know how to testify and put a good case together.

They are usually the ones that the brass turn to when there is some clandestine request or sensitive operation that needs to be done right.

These cops are still physically fit and can handle themselves on the street.

They will stay around the station when needed, but have other commitments; such as a second job, a second spouse, a second boyfriend/girlfriend (sometimes both), etc.

They have most of their friends outside of Law Enforcement now.

ACCEPTANCE STAGE - 15th to ????

Now the cops have a single objective... retirement and pension. Nothing is going to come between them and their monthly check.

The boss, the city (or State, or county), the idiots around the station, and the creeps on the street can all go to hell... because they could come between them and "sitting on the beach".

There is no topic of discussion that can't somehow lead back to retirement issues.These guys are usually sergeants, detectives, crime scene technicians, station duty, or some other post where they will not be endangered.

They especially don't want some young stupid cop getting them sued, fired, killed, or anything else causing them to lose their "beach time". These guys are usually hard to find when the "clusters" hit.

They spend a lot of time having coffee, hanging around the station, and looking at brochures of things they want to do in retirement.Then the retired cop usually dies within the first five years of retirement, saving the city (or State, or county) a bunch of money.

Of course, nothing is ever 100% true...but if you are a cop, were a cop, know a will certainly recognize some of the above statement.