After reading through a couple of my blog posts regarding my journey with mental health diagnosis, some difficult questions may arise. Why is this guy still working as a cop? Is policing right for me? These are valid questions.
In this post, I will attempt to answer, in part, those questions by describing the positive aspects of policing. While reading, keep in mind that this is my own perspective based on my own experiences. In other words, my reality may not be your reality.
Vocation vs. Job
To begin, policing is a vocation for me; it is not a job. Everyone’s job should be the welfare of others; to help those more vulnerable than ourselves. My vocation, as an officer, is one avenue in which I can help others who are in need. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m out there saving the world. Sometimes it’s the small gestures, like a smile or a fist bump (beard bumps are reserved for the epic beards only) that count. Other days it’s the official intervention as an officer during a crucial point in someone’s life that makes a difference.
Do you need to be a police officer to do good in the world? Does being a police officer mean you’re a good person? The answer, in my opinion, is no. A friend told me recently, “It’s not WHAT you do in life that matters, it’s HOW you do it.”
Although there are many things that can be negative within police culture (not a topic for today), there are some positive aspects. Having worked in more than one police service and working alongside several different police services across North-America, I can tell you that every service has its own unique culture. Similar to schools which have their own unique atmospheres and cultures respectively. The most positive aspect of this culture, for me, is the comradery formed with colleagues. From the outside looking in, some often ask how come some officers are so close with each other? Having worked with a partner, I can answer you this…I knew my partner better than I knew my own wife. How come? Firstly, the time spent with each other is significant. Working 10-12 hour shifts sitting beside a person in a car, you really get to know them. I can safely say that during busy weeks, I spent more hours awake with my work partner than my family. You get to know everything about that person; what they eat, how they talk, how they move, how they smell; to name a few. What deepens this relationship with my colleagues, is the types of situations you encounter together. During high-risk situations, an officer has to trust that his colleagues “have his/her six”. In other words, during those situations, my life is often entrusted to my colleagues and vice-versa. During those situations, I learn to be able to read my partner’s mannerisms (tone, language, pattern, body language, etc.). All that being said, a typical shift has some exciting/stressful calls but also some long and boring moments which is also when I bonded with my colleagues. You’d be surprised of the topics one can get into when stuck in a car with someone else for long periods of time; definitely not a topic for this post J. Teamwork is such an important and natural part of policing that relationships develop during and after shift. As I’ve said during my previous post; those unofficial debriefs with colleagues after a stressful shift over a beverage have helped me get through those darker days. This is why you sometimes hear cops call each-other “brother” and “sister”. For me, those terms are not used lightly and are reserved to those who have earned it.
Your Bearded Cop