Patrol

Why Police Officers Don’t Fit In

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Why Police Officers Don’t Fit In

People can say what they want about the police, but until a person has walked in their shoes, they have no idea what they’re talking about. But one thing I believe we can agree on is that police officers simply do not fit in.

Now, before you continue to read and think I am bashing the police, it’s quite the opposite.

I became a police officer when I was 20-years-old. Moreover, I am about to marry a state trooper. As a result, I know cops don’t fit into society; they are simply a rare breed.

This article is for you to peek BEHIND THE BADGE and understand what I mean.

First, it is simply abnormal to see dead bodies, gruesome crime scenes, handle horrible abuse calls along with domestic violence and suicidal people daily.

Police officers arrive during your worst days, not your happy moments. After a while this takes a toll and makes a person want to shut down. There is only so much negativity before they themselves become sucked into the pessimism.

In order for the police officers to survive 25 years in the job, they are trained to desensitize, because if they don’t, they will not be efficient on the job.

I was just watching the Netflix documentary series on Flint Town Michigan (highly recommend you watch) and one of the officers says just that. He said that you can’t take anything on this job personal otherwise you’d never make it.

And he is 100 percent right. Cops need to put their emotions aside and handle their jobs, even when it’s the death of a child, and they have a child the same age at home.

Now can you start to see why police officers are different than the rest of society?

Cops are trained to solve problems. They have become so efficient that it makes them appear detached to the parties involved. But that is not true, they simply have a checklist of things they need to get through in order to help citizens.

So while they seem short, even blunt, they aren’t trying to be offensive. They are simply trying to discern facts and figure out the best way they can help.

The job itself seems to be an incubator. Stress coming from all areas to include administration, the public, social media, fellow officers, and front line supervisors.

We are in a unique time when every move a police officer makes is scrutinized . . . even when their actions are justified!

This stress causes officers to be unlike the rest of the population. Working conditions have dramatically changed in the past 10 years. There are not enough boots on the ground, officers are multi-tasking and handling assignments that should be completed by additional help, overtime can be forced and time off is not guaranteed.

So, at this point you may ask yourself, why do people sign up for this kind of work?

Well, if we don’t, who will? Who will hold the line between criminals and civilized society? Not a majority of society.

The job of a police officer has become so much more complex than it used to be. All the while, our antagonists have a much louder voice than before. As a result, police officers default and become a breed of their own. Consequently, they don’t always fit in very well in public settings, family affairs, church, etc. It is just the way it is. And now after reading this, perhaps you can understand why police officers are the way they are.

Autumn Clifford is a former police officer. She was in law enforcement for six years before she got hurt on duty and left the job. She has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is almost halfway through obtaining a masters’ degree in the field.

Autumn was not only a patrol officer, but is marrying a state trooper in September of 2018. Autumn has taken her passion for law enforcement and is now helping officers and spouses understand both sides of the badge. She has also created an online business, which, focuses on helping law enforcement. You can reach her on Instagram @theladysheepdog or by listening to her podcast Sheepdog Nation.

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Author
Autumn Clifford

Autumn Clifford is a former police officer who runs a podcast dedicated to law enforcement. Her podcast is called Sheepdog Nation.

After 24 years of patrol duty your article was and is spot on

Congratulations and thank you for your service

lt, another 11? holy cow! i would think you’d be on the 25 year plan! thank you for your service!

Retired sheriff February 1, 2018 after 29 years of service and the article is dead on.

kevin, thank you for your 29 years of service and thank you for the compliment on the article! i appreciate it.

Autumn, you are absolutely right. I learned early in my career to put my personal feelings aside and handle the task at hand. I tried to leave my police work, at the district and mostly succeeDed in leaving it there and not taking it home. I retired in 2016 after forty-six years in polIcing, twenty-eight yEars ( retired lieutenant ) With the baltimore police department and eighteen years ( retired deputy ) with the tarrant county sheriff’s office.

robert, they say BALTIMORE pd is the real deal. i used to work for a guy that i believe retired from there. thank you for your service and thank you for the compliment on the article! i appreciate it!

Retired in 2005 after 32 years patrol and investigation. Your articles arr spit on, excellent JOb, thank you!

mike, 32 years that is an amazing career. thank you for your service and thank you for reading my articles! means a lot.

Autumn,
Your article IS SPOT ON. ONLY IF MORE OF THE PUBLIC WOULD READ YOUR WELL WRITTEN AND FIRST HAND KNOWLEDGE OF WHY WE ARE THE WAY WE ARE ON AND OFF THE JOB.
RETIRED in 2016 after 28 years in law enforcement and 9 years in the Marine corps.

John, thank you for all of your service!!! and i agree, i wish more of the public could read this and understand our points of view of things, maybe less misunderstandings would occur.

I enjoyed your The article too.

And that is the question, isn it? How do we explain the essenCe of the work we do on Behalf of our citizenrY? Age old question which requires our very best efforts. All of our lives hang in the balance.

I try to educate one citizen at a time. But find it an increasingly difficult task. My community just buried Sgt. Gannon, yarmoUth K-9 officer. Perhaps this loss helps my community better undertand the risks taken on their bEhalf. In that i Find some Measure of comfort.

I AGREE WITH EVERYTHING YOU SAY IN YOUR ARTICLE. cOPS DO HAVE TO COMPARTMENTALIZE EVERYTHING THEY EXPERIENCE ON THE JOB. However, WE CAN PUT THE “STUFF” ON THE SHELF FOR ONLY SO LONG BEFORE THAT ONE CASE COMES ALONG AND IS THE TIPPING POINT THAT CAN SEND US SPIRALING. fOR THIS REASON, WE SHOULD TAKE CARE OF OUR MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL BEING. wE DO A DECENT JOB WITH ANNUAL oFFICER SURVIVAL TRAINING (WE COULD TRAIN MORE) BUT WE SHOULD ALSO DO ANNUAL CHECK UP WITH A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL TO DEBRIEF THE THINGS WE SO WE DON’T REACH OUR TIPPING POINT.

I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ALL CAPS. I CAN’T CHANGE IT.

Great article, I wish I’d read something like it sooner, I could have passed it on the youngsters I trained over the last 38 years.

I think it’s important to point out that you have to know when it’s time to go. I’m finally going to pull the plug. I was going to try and make it to 40 just to prove a point, but I’ve decided there’s really nothing to prove.

Congratulations on the nuptials.

I literally googled this very question and arrived here. We don’t fit.

I don’t think it’s a “square peg- round hole” scenario; that isn’t specific enough. For us It’s more of a “hexbolt in a pinhole” dilemma. We are complex professionals that see all dimensions of society, yet don’t belong to any of them.

This isn’t necessary a problem. I feel (humbly) that we are hybrids. Our job, as the author stated, is mired in contact with conflicted people. We find a solution for the problem and continue to the next. We rarely have the luxury of sympathy in these situations, instead, we utilize empathy from our experiences as cops and try to resolve (or pacify) people and move on. We do so stoically but effectively. Equally rare is our opportunity to see things through. While this may vary depending on environmental variables where you work- I work for a large agency and don’t often have the opportunity to “check back” and see if I affected any positive change.

By virtue of these points- we disassociate. Over time our disassociation shifts into a state of seclusion whereby only “we” understand “us”.

I’ve only been a cop for 16 years, but it has become a salient point in my career that I have accepted relative seclusion. Society made us this way- but we let them do it.

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THANK YOU!

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