5 ways to enjoy the job again
A five-minute read for the people on the frontline to get out of that rut
It is no secret that these are some of the toughest times to be a police officer. In looking at history it is easy to compare contemporary policing to that of the 1960’s. We are on the verge of race riots (aka violent protests), a segment, albeit small, of society is expressing absolute hatred for the police (not unlike Vietnam vets), everyone is asking for change thanks to a recent presidential slogan, and people are wearing giant rose colored sunglasses.
Some problems are extremely complex. However, it is well within our ability as police officers to take a step toward having a positive outlook. At the very least, we owe it to ourselves and our families to take steps toward internal sanity.
1-communicate what you want
I lost track of how many conversations with coworkers were centered on organizational complaints. Whether it was about not getting a promotion, specialty assignment, or shift pick, they all had one thing in common-poor communication.
No matter how much you want to believe it, the vast majority of your supervisors are not ‘out to get you.’ They took this job for a positive reason and if the situation is approached in a productive manner, they will want to help.
If you didn’t get that specialty assignment in investigations or promotion, don’t be passive; ask why. Talk about steps you could do to better position yourself next time. Odds are, your supervisor has experienced something similar and might even put you in a position to learn and better yourself for next time. Simple examples could be: giving you time to write a search warrant or maybe an acting field supervisor for the day.
If you position yourself toward improvement, your supervisors have no choice but to help. And if they truly are the worst supervisor around, others will notice your positive attempts, which will still help you in the end.
2-talk to the community/become involved
Really … more community policing BS?!? Yes, but I’m referring to going back to the (good ol’) way it used to be. Get to know a business owner. Maybe pick a business you actually like and think you might want to work at when you retire. We are no different than most other professions; we’re salespeople, diplomats, counselors, nurses, and maybe even a fast food clerk. I’m not the only one that ever listened to a domestic issue that centered around cold chicken nuggets, right?
Getting involved means a million different things. I once met a business owner at a police golf tournament. This meeting turned into a long standing business relationship in which he helped me with personal investment strategies.
I don’t care if you work in the worst inner city or richest suburb, there are people in that community that you can (and will) want to learn from.
Talk to people who speak up at public functions. Try to have an intelligent conversation with them or a productive argument. You may be able to convince them to be a supporter. If you swing and miss, oh well. If you end up swinging that ‘on the fence’ boisterous person, they may be one of the line drives needed to win the police support World Series.
3-take a class you always wanted
Did you see some cool ‘rappelling from turbo prop plane’ class taught by the most elite Delta 6 ninjas? Did you want to go to it? Why didn’t you?
On a more pragmatic level, find a class that you are interested in that will better you in a realistic manner. Find aspects about the course that will not only better you, but your organization. Present the class as adding value to the organization. If done properly, there really aren’t many excuses that will prevent you from taking that class.
Not all classes you like have to be police related. Maybe you want to go to one of the thousands of shooting schools available, maybe you want to get your realtor’s license. The possibilities are endless. All of these things will enrich you, and remind you that there is more to life than Cops and Robbers.
You may have to pay for it yourself. If it’s valuable to you, pay for it-nothing is free. You may even be able to take what you learned and help others in your organization. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll convince the bosses to let you hang out with the ninjas.
4-take a vacation
Closely related to learning something new or going to a training class is the crazy, out of this world concept of …wait for it … taking a break.
Personal time with family, friends, or alone has been written about so much that it’s mind numbing to elaborate on it much.
Side note: Your awesome 500-hour vacation bank translates to 100 ball games, birthday parties or recitals missed.
I’ve seen co-workers store over 1000 hours of time off. Let me do a little math. One thousand hours = half a year of salary ($$$$). If you took 100 hours of time to yourself every year for those 10 leading to retirement … you’d still get that money! Never mind the fact that you probably would be 10 pounds lighter, will have traveled to see some exotic place, or made your kids ballgame that you keep promising but falling short on.
You are just procrastinating-work will still be there when you come back.
This guide is designed for every day worker bees. However, with some minor tweaks it applies to supervisors as well. You all know your organization and your people better than I ever will.
I truly believe the pendulum will swing in our favor once again, not unlike the military. However, we need to be more vigilant, more creative, and supportive of each other. I hope you have found these reminders useful and will share them with your co-workers. Be safe.
Sean Kenney is a detective corporal who has held various assignments throughout his career (patrol, Investigations, SWAT, US Marshal Fugitive Task Force) with numerous accolades to include medals of Valor and Courage. He holds a master’s degree in psychology and a bachelor’s in criminal justice. Sean operates a law enforcement consulting and training firm aimed at developing strategies to improve morale and bridge the gap between employees, managers, and the community they serve. He can be reached at: [email protected].