For the last fifteen years, I have worked in the criminal justice field as a police officer. Each day I put on a uniform and make a vow to help those in need, whether it be physically or even emotionally. I work with the general public in a variety of ways. A common misunderstanding for police officers is that we ticket people in order to meet quotas or to generate revenue for our county and state governments. However, the true reason we issue tickets is to keep the individual person and the people as a whole, safe. Unfortunately, when confronted with a fine of over $100, many people fail to see that they have broken the law; just that they have been individually targeted. This creates some intense moments of public interaction and can at times lead to stressful days and nights. However, deep down I know that what I am doing is right and on a job satisfaction scale I would rate mine at a nine.
There is really nothing I can do to change the stressful days as opposed to the days that are smooth so everyday I attempt to be as enthusiastic as possible. Some days I become extremely involved in my job and have the opportunity to affect someone personally. For instance, one day I pulled a lady over for speeding. When I walked up to the window, I noticed she was sobbing. Further investigation would relay that her grandmother had just passed away. From the simple act of listening to the lady for a few minutes and allowing her to calm down, I realized she probably didn’t even realize she was speeding. She needed someone to talk to if not just for a few minutes. She would go on to say that she has never thanked a police officer for pulling her over. Days like these help me realize that I have found my calling in life and give me the desire and enthusiasm to get out of bed to protect and serve.
Everyday is not as rewarding, and as much as I want to say I’m a super hero, my job is really no different than other police officers. I make the attempt to reach out and help those in need. Sometimes that offer is accepted and other times it is rejected. This is a hard lesson to learn as a new policeman. You cannot force your help onto others. Sometimes, it is just as good to let people curse and yell, give them their ticket and send them on their way. This is probably the hardest learned lesson to learn in the working world. As a young person, you want to change everything. As you age, you realize that is not always possible.
I have yet to have that “dare to be great” moment although I am always ready and capable. Sometimes I have the desire to go back to school, but at the age of thirty five I think it would take too long. If I could change one aspect of my career, I would have pursued more academics to become more involved in the criminal justice path instead of walking the beat. You only need a high school education to start training in the police academy, but you have to be in good shape. Even so, I would have at least gotten a bachelor’s degree in a criminal justice field that would have increased my options as I grew with the force.
Over the years, I have had one friend that asked me from time to time how he could become a police officer. Again, I told him all he had to do was to apply to a police academy for certification because he had a high school diploma.
Although I keep in shape, my job is very physical. When I was twenty years old, I could run, jump, and shoot without losing a breath. I ran five miles per day and was in best shape of anyone in the precinct. However, you don’t stay young forever, which has me pulling my hair out some days, and I can’t afford to lose any more of my hair. I do make every attempt to stay in as good of shape as possible. This is what helps me keep a healthy balance between my working life and home life. Also, the fact that I have worked through the tough years and get a great vacation package of three to four weeks per year gives me some therapeutic time on the beach or at the lake. Compensation for police officers is not the greatest when you first start the position. However, it is a government position and regular raises allow for a comfortable living after about the third year. In five years, I hope to continue my climb up the force although I plan on retiring early. If I could write my own ticket, I would make detective, though I’m glad I enjoy what I do because many people in the work force are not as lucky.