I Quit My Job As A Police Officer

I couldn’t be the honest, caring and kind dad that I aspired to be — and I refused to become a statistic.

Photo by ev on Unsplash

A career in law enforcement is filled with constant cynicism and negativity. From “the brass” inside of the department breathing down your neck to the mountains of paperwork, and the repeat offenders to the compulsive pleaders. It’s an often misunderstood profession, especially in more recent years. Law enforcement officers have a lot of challenges and opinions to sort through — some exaggerated and some still rarely discussed outside of the ranks.

Every shift matters

In law enforcement, there is no such thing as a “routine shift.” Using the word routine to explain anything about police work is almost offensive. A factory worker has a routine shift. A paper delivery boy has a routine shift. That’s because, for the most part, nothing changes day in and day out. They deliver the same things, to the same people.

With police work, you rarely find yourself with two days that look the same.

Each and every shift varies wildly from the last or brings an entirely new experience altogether. The only predictable thing about the job is that every day comes with the probability of exposing yourself to an entirely new experience, likely with heaps of pressure and stress in the mix.

It’s unsurprising that in 2018 there were 159 police officers who took their own lives. Somewhat surprisingly, the number from 2017 was the same number which was up 19 from the year before that.

Rampant negativity

I can say unequivocally that one of the main reasons for the increasing rate of suicide is due to rampant negativity — both from inside and outside of the department.

Negativity in police work comes in all forms and presents in a myriad of different ways. Whether it’s being reprimanded by command staff, a physical altercation during a combative arrest, or being haunted by experiences that largely only emergency personnel are exposed to — it can definitely take a toll on even the most seasoned veteran.

“You know those FBI shows on TV? Where they do the profiling? Cops hate that stuff. While it’s all well and good to sit behind a desk and have assigned characteristics and fancy medical names for criminals — at the end of the day, you just don’t know what anybody’s gonna do. You gotta prepare for everything. human beings are unpredictable. After three decades with PD, I still get surprised.” ― Jennifer Hillier

After the rioting, looting and burning we all collectively watched take place in Ferguson, Missouri, a shift started happening for me personally. Not only was the job still largely negative in nature, but I started looking at everything as a threat. With a trained eye constantly looking for the weak spot and making sure I dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s.

Integrity wins

After five years, I realized I couldn’t keep going like this. I pride myself on being honest, and if I was honest I knew the current social sentiment towards police work and my own personal experience was creating some massive conflicts inside of me. New worries and new negativity started to pile on with a vengeance.

I found myself worrying about ending up in a viral video or dead before each shift. I couldn’t stomach arresting citizens for possession of small amounts of marijuana, cannabis oils, and other equally arbitrary bullshit.

I left law enforcement for my own sanity, my wife’s sanity, and most of all for my kids. I couldn’t be the honest, caring and kind dad that I aspired to be as a police officer…and I refused to become a statistic.

“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” ― Harper Lee