7 reasons I’m still a police officer

I could find a job that would pay better in the corporate world, so why do I remain a cop?

The life of a modern-day police officer is difficult at best. We don’t get to see folks when they’re having a good day. Usually, we only darken a doorstep because something bad has been – or is currently happening inside that door. Once we arrive, we’re expected to bring order to the situation and immediately make determinations about which story being told is the actual truth.

Those of us who don a police uniform, body armor and duty belt, hit the streets knowing there are people in this world who will not hesitate to try to take our lives. Even in my quaint suburban town, I’ve had my fair share of single-fingered waves by passing motorists.

I have a bachelor’s degree and years of experience. I could find a job that would pay better in the corporate world and be much safer, too. So why do I remain a cop? Why do we subject ourselves to the dangers of today’s world? I can’t speak for everyone, but here are seven reasons I’m still a cop:

1. Protecting those who cannot protect themselves

There isn’t anything more satisfying about police work than stopping a crime in progress or arresting someone who has victimized an innocent person. Rolling up on a burglary that is otherwise not yet reported, or any number of other crimes is an amazingly gratifying experience. Placing handcuffs on a suspect of a brutal crime is even better.

2. Getting help to someone who needs it

We encounter all walks of life, and it doesn’t matter what socioeconomic category, race, color, or creed we encounter, each interaction is unique. Sometimes the best answer is to jail a drug offender so the court can mandate treatment. I’ve had people thank me years later for getting them the help their family so desperately wanted for them. 

Other times, we may come into contact with someone who is truly trying to do what they can to support a family and is coming up short. Being able to help is what it’s all about. Many a cop has opened his or her wallet to buy groceries, replace a stolen bicycle, or put a couple of gallons of gas in a vehicle for someone down on his or her luck.

3. Variety is the spice of life

Sure, we may take the same types of calls pretty frequently, and they are often at the same locations, but it’s never repetitive. Each call for service that involves humans can be a new experience and an opportunity to do something new. New may be good or bad, but it’s new nonetheless.

4. I appreciate my family life more

My spouse is great all by herself, but after responding to domestic disturbance after domestic disturbance for years, I know how lucky I am to have her in my life. The same is true with my kids because we deal with some disrespectful juveniles at times. Knowing that each time I leave the house in uniform may be the last time, I do everything I can to maximize the time I have with all of them.

5. I’m a more informed parent

This knowledge is pretty handy when the kids make a new friend at school and get invited to a sleepover. Wait, you want to stay where? Nah, we’ll pass. Thanks, though.

6. I don’t have to decide what to wear to work

Unless I’m training somewhere or doing a plainclothes phase of field training, I know what I’m going to be wearing when I head out the door for work, my police uniform. If I want some variety, I’ll switch from my BDUs to the good old fashioned polyester get up.

7. I work with some really good cops

I wish I could say everyone I work with is outstanding, but let’s be real, there are some folks who really just enjoy telling people that they’re cops. We are lucky to have some courageous and compassionate officers in my town. Just when you think you have them figured out, they’ll roll out a new wrinkle to show how amazing they are. These are the men and women I want as my backup officers, as when I hear they’re on the way, I know they will do everything they can to help everyone stay safe.

The list of things I enjoy could be much longer, I mean who doesn’t like to drive fast and get paid to shoot at the range? Ultimately, it’s all about keeping my area a safe place for my friends and family.

This article, originally published 09/01/2016, has been updated.

Uniform Stories features a variety of contributors. These sources are experts and educators within their profession. Uniform Stories covers an array of subjects like field stories, entertaining anecdotes, and expert opinions.

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