Hi, my name is Officer Wynter and I decided to become a Cop in today’s world. Law enforcement today is not looked at the same as it used to be. Back in the day, being a Cop was one of the most well-respected careers someone could get into. The job demands someone to risk their lives after all and be a hero. However, today if you want to risk your life and be a hero, its recommended that you become a firefighter or soldier. Due to some bad eggs in the field of law enforcement, the job on a global level has had to suffer. The disconnect that has developed between the community and the police has grown over the past few years. Due to this, the question arises, is being a Cop ok today?
In my opinion, I think when you become a cop today, you are taking not only a great job; but also, the baggage that has been left before. The job itself is very stressful with all the cons within it. Then you add the baggage, and you are now in an environment that some may classify as unhealthy. Due to these things is it recommended to take up the mantel. Today if you go to a group of officers, there is a high chance if you ask them advice on joining the field; they would talk you out of it or have you second guess yourself. This is not because of the danger but due to the fact that the job is hated now by the police and the community. I won’t get into the known details on why we are where we are, but to summarize; the job as a whole is suffering due to bad officers making bad decisions. This has caused an image issue that is hard to be fixed due to the struggle of regaining trust between the community and the police. With the lack of trust this has made the job even harder. It is known how often officers commit suicide due to the stress of the job. An article on US Today stated “In 2020, 116 police officers died by suicide and 113 died in the line of duty, according to researchers. While the number of suicides dropped from 140 in 2017, study co-author Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim noted that 2020 numbers are likely an undercount due to stigma and shame, lack of reporting and people needing time to come forward.” (Stanton, 2022)
These numbers are due to what the job entails and due to how much harder it has become. Lexipol, which is a policy management software for public safety, has come up with a list of many ways that we can see police officers getting stressed or burned out. Some of these examples include:”
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Being disengaged or unmotivated
- Physical exhaustion
- Nightmares and flashbacks
- Poor hygiene or apathy about one’s physical appearance
- Loss of empathy or compassion
- Relationship issues, including divorce
- Substance misuse and abuse
- Recurrent sadness or depression
- Resistance to feedback
- Resistance to change
- Reduction in meaningful work product
- Reduced job satisfaction
- Increase in citizen complaints” (Fish, 2018)
In the end, this post is not to scare people away from the job of being a cop however it is to shine a light on the reality of what it has become. I still believe though time and hard work, the disconnect can be fixed. The job gives you the ability to help, protect, and impact people’s lives in many ways. This gives me the hope that it is still a good job to be in. To prevent the high suicide rates and the low moral from within, Self-care is essential in my opinion. Finding a suitable coping method or some way to decompress is essential in the field of law enforcement. The three things one should do is:
1. Cultivate a life outside law enforcement.
2. Develop good physical health habits.
3. Practice meditation and mindfulness.
By striving to incorporate these things into your life, a form of joy and good health will start to cultivate itself. Giving yourself the ability to be mindful and meditate can help you understand and handle stress. Taking care of your body physically can promote good health. Finally, having hobbies and a life outside of work will help you decompress. Through good self-care and building a better community relationship, the job of being a cop can be the well-respected job it used to be.
Stanton, C. (2022, June 10). Police, firefighters die by suicide more often than in line of duty. why rates remain high. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/06/10/high-suicide-rate-police-firefighters-mental-health/7470846001/
News, A. B. C. (2020, January 2). Record number of US police officers died by suicide in 2019, advocacy group says. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/record-number-us-police-officers-died-suicide-2019/story?id=68031484
Fish, D. (2018, February 14). How Self-Care Can Reduce Police Officer Stress. Lexipol. https://www.lexipol.com/resources/blog/how-self-care-can-reduce-police-officer-stress/