The fun factor went missing.

Perusing headline after headline showcasing a law enforcement officer or police issue can give the impression that the cops are in a deconstruction zone.  Not only is the job being stripped of basic police components, police are expected to have a stone face throughout their career.

No emotion. Standard resting bitch face. Or at least there is that personification assigned to cops. 

Gosh, if we smile or laugh, we might be up to no good. Or inappropriate.

Where did all the fun go? Yes. Police work is fun! Think of policing as the special stadium box seat to pure entertainment. Two days are never the same. The wacky, the cuckoo, the odd. The sinister, the bizarro, the unbelievable. You see it all.

Even with all the recent attacks on police and mass shootings, humor is important. Despite all of our fallen, we must still find a way to laugh. And do it without repercussions.

With the ways of the world, I have to look at today’s candidates in a different light than those walking through the Hall of Justice 20 years ago. Each one of them had better be packed with a lot of grit and extremely good critical thinking skills. And skin of Teflon.

Consequently, do not forget to pack your humor. It will help you get through some dark times.

The public eye.

The media criticizes police on a daily basis. The public  judges every move. “Cops look scary”.  “Police don’t act right”.  “They have big guns”. Law enforcement officials are under a microscope. But, it isn’t all bad.

We have no problem with accountability and transparency as long as it is fairly represented. Those six second blips sliced and diced to skew the masses give spin and partial stories of the truth.

In turn, politicians try to strip law enforcement of their core values, duties, and tools. Frankly, I think the head honchos have watched Judge Dredd far too many times.

Reforms and updates in training and tactics are no new thing to policing. It is a constant system of current best practices and transformations. Most cops want to be on top of their game, so these are welcomed additions to their base of knowledge.

Second guessing officers at every turn and armchair quarterbacking are infuriating to most of us.  These reactions from spectators who have no inkling of how procedures and processes work in policing have had negative impacts.  Over-the-top criticism, media sensationalism, silly political moves, and administrators caving to pressure are taking a toll on law enforcement. The stress and expectation of always being perfect has forced de-policing issues and the deconstruction of basic law enforcement.

Attitudes and outlooks become somber. Cops often get robbed of the enjoyable moments of the job because it might be deemed unsociable. 

The public might expect police officers to be stone faced and unemotional at every step. It just isn’t so. Cops are community members and humanizing the badge has become policy rather than just a given. Perhaps the uniform takes away the person in the public eyes. I don’t know. I just see a lot of resentment, aggression, and perfection seekers. 

Behold!  There is joy!

No matter the politics or civil unrest along the way, there are moments of glee. Below are 7 fun things no one can take away from cops. These are in no particular order of enjoyment rating:

 

    1. Positive Moments. It might be odd to put this in here from a public perspective. However,  it really makes an officer check all the boxes of why you got into police work when you save a life or make a positive influence in some way. Whether the appreciation or success is immediate  or heard years after the fact, it gives us some joy to know we got it right. Police stand between the public and evil without hesitation. When tragedy overshadows the good stories, it really gives an officer a boost when they get to experience the happy moments on duty. Often people we meet ask questions such as “how many people have you shot?”  Wouldn’t “how many lives have you saved” be a refreshing change of pace?
    2. Tough suspect confessions.Once in the room, you are shielded from the outside noise. It is you and them. Engaged in a game of chess, so to speak.  Or maybe a dance of intelligence is a better way to describe it.  Is there any cop in the room who would say it isn’t fun to get a suspect to confess? If you view interviews and interrogations as a chore or part of the no fun zone, you might check yourself out at the door. You’re weird. The interrogation high goes up when the case is big. I still miss the days of that defining moment when the break happens in the interview room and the words flow like butter. It puts a smile on my face. 
    3. Blue bond camaraderie. There is great love in a cohesive team. It is no secret than only a select few in the world “get us”. This fact alone is why we tend to stick to our own. Boy, does that make it controversial. Police teams work well together and uphold the rule of law. Off duty, officers engage in charitable acts, social events, retreats, Tough Mudders, Spartan races, police games, marathons, or help each other out on projects. Maybe it is nice to just hang out.  We know what each other goes through each day on duty, so no words are even necessary. In a non-creepy way, cops have brain chemistry and strong bonds.
    4. The latest and greatest.  Not only are there tried and true “toys” in law enforcement, there are also new and shiny ones. The latest equipment? Yes. Pick me. New cars? Cameras? Covert electronic devices? Tools? Who doesn’t love training exercises with Simunition or the FATS system? Crime fighting software? I am totally geeking out while writing this.
    5. Cop humor. Unique situations cause your filter and humor meter to sway a different way than the rest of society. Not only is laughing healthy, but it is a coping mechanism against constant exposure to human misery. There is so much release and elation in yucking it up with the crew. Roadside belly laughs are the best. We just have to make sure we are in similar company as not to offend the public who may not understand our brand of humor.
    6. Putting a really evil person in jail. Evil comes in all forms. Deviance fascinates us, but we don’t like it running amok on the streets. Cops may think of many criminal things as minimal that the Average Joe would classify as terrible. When the police meter of evil spikes way up, you know this type of capture was a public safety issue and the individual was pure badness.  Those are great apprehensions. Those are memorable moments. High fives might be in order.
    7. Donuts. You can make fun of us. You can badger us in public. You can make memes.  But, you cannot take away the euphoria of a good pastry. A box of donuts are best in uniform and go nicely with a good cup of java.

Find your joy. Embrace those moments the job makes you happy.

Police officers experience heavy things on duty.  Images, smells, and feelings of that moment(s) burn in our memory. The weight of the world can often be a substantial burden.

Do not let anyone take away your joy in policing. Bask in it. You will have many days without exposure to light.

Some happy times are celebrated with the public.  Some are in private and kept between cops. Just remember the merry bits are still there.  The day the fun ends is a sad day in law enforcement. Salvage it! Fight for it! Don’t let them take the happiness away from the job.

What things would you put on this list?