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Old 05-30-2008, 07:01 PM   #21
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Oh, I forgot one other thing. Job security. In most areas your chances of being laid off are about zero. When the economy tanks, crime goes up, you get overtime, and they hire more police officers.

Look carefully at the retirement/benefits package. Some are terrific, some are the pits.
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Old 05-30-2008, 07:10 PM   #22
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Oh, I forgot one other thing. Job security. In most areas your chances of being laid off are about zero. When the economy tanks, crime goes up, you get overtime, and they hire more police officers.

Look carefully at the retirement/benefits package. Some are terrific, some are the pits.
Ditto
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Old 05-30-2008, 07:27 PM   #23
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I'm a retired police officer from Maryland, went for 29 years. What the others have told you is mostly true. It can be boring, tedious, frustrating, punctuated by moments of terror, and can be extremely rewarding. See my post on this thread:

http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...ded-32025.html

Divorce rates are higher, no question. At a meeting the subject of divorce came up and we realized that out of 15 people at the table, 12 were married, and only one was still married to his original wife, and she worked for the PD too so she understood the environment. Not all shifts were that bad, but it takes a very understanding spouse to make the marriage work. A neighbor two doors up from me was married to a DC officer and her complaint was that "he was never home". I wanted slap her - the guy was out busting his butt to support her and the kids and she whines about his hours! What did she expect marrying a police officer?

Understand that you are going to miss a lot of Christmases, Thanksgivings, birthdays and backyard barbecues. Most of your friends will be other police officers because they're the only ones who understand what you do and why. The friends you have now will mostly drift away because of your work hours. It will take an effort to keep them. Make that effort.

There is a phase where one can become extremely cynical (I did) but that wears off for most people, but some never do. Those usually find other work.

It's extremely depressing to knock on some stranger's door and tell whoever answers that their son/daughter/wife/husband is not coming home. Ever. For most that was the worst part of it and was referred to as "drawing the short straw".

But there is action and adventure the likes of which you won't see anywhere else this side of a war zone. That can be a plus or a minus depending on how you react to it. One guy puked in the commode before every midnight shift, convinced that he was going to die that week. How he did that for years is beyond me. For me the evening and midnight shifts were when "all the neat stuff happens" and I loved it.

But I was one of the lucky ones, I never got shot or seriously injured. About 20-25% go out on permanent disability. One of the finest officers I ever worked with is 45 years old and walks with a cane. During the time I was there eight were killed, some of them good friends, one a mentor to me. You have to be able to deal with that possibility, and so does your spouse and family.

When I went into the fraud section (mostly a desk job, but interesting in it's own way) my wife was about doing cartwheels on the front lawn because I was off the street and it was straight day work with weekends and holidays off - a rare and coveted position in a 24/7 agency. My mother, then still living, breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Ever see somebody do something they shouldn't and want to do something about it? Well, you get to do that.

Yeah, if I was 22 I'd do it again, no question.
Walt,
Thank you very much for this post, it's very insightful. My girlfriend and I just got an apartment together. She is against the idea of me becoming a Cop because of the higher risk of death or injury. Although her concerns are understandable, i was told that i can work at a different department that will not require me to be on the streets. My only concern now is whether or not her and I will grow apart due to scheduling conflicts, or me being absent for one too many significant days. I do not think that she will leave me due to this, but then again, one can never be too sure about life. It's possible that after a while, things may take a toll on her. I hope it all works out, thanks again
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:06 PM   #24
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With the variable hours, that can make a difference based on expectations in the marriage. My first wife was very sensitive about the importance of holidays, but in her family everyone worked "daytime" jobs so she really didn't understand, deep down, why I couldn't always be off on a holiday. And I was then a junior officer and low on the seniority list for the "choice" days off. Also affecting it was that her immediate family was 400 miles away so she was sitting home by herself or had to make the drive herself. That wasn't the deal-killer on the marriage but it was certainly a factor.

The second time around I made a point to discuss that issue before the wedding. DW comes from a family whose members did work jobs with sometimes long and strange hours - her brother works in a power plant for example; somebody has to keep the electricity on at 3:00 AM - so she did not carry that expectation into the marriage. So she sort of wondered why I was so concerned about her reaction to my working holidays. "Well, if you have to work that day, you have to work." But her immediate family was also only an hour away - so if I had to work on a holiday she just went to gatherings by herself and didn't feel like she missed too much. But by then I was more senior and could almost always get a holiday off.

So take some time to talk with her about it, find out how she feels about it. It doesn't matter if the expectation is rational or realistic. How she feels about it will matter. Don't ask how I know that!

Also think about yourself. Your girlfriend is not a wife. Do you want to stay in a job/career that is boring/stifling to please her? If you're miserable in it to please her, the resentment may follow. Lose/lose for everybody.
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:50 PM   #25
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Walt, a bunch of my cop friends are out on disibility and SS disibility. Sorry, but out of a least 10 I know collecting this money only one has a real injury that would keep him from working and he wasn't hurt on the job yet he still collects. They all laugh about it and are in great shape and could go out and do a job. Very few lines of work will get you not only a tax free pension and SS didibility if your injured.

So you miss a few holidays, today many lines of work have to work weekends and holidays. I was in the car biz and not only had to work weekends but most every other day also.

Being a cop today is a great job and to get onto PD like Nassau or Sufflok counties on Long Island NY is almost impossible. When they give the test hundreds of thousands come out to take it. It's a good gig and good for you that you had it.
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Old 05-31-2008, 05:54 AM   #26
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Trek's comments are offensive and insulting. One of my Sons is a Police Officer, and every day that he puts on his uniform he puts his life on the line so that the rest of us can live our lives with some degree of safety. I picture people like Trek sitting at their kitchen table in their underwear using their computer to try to demean those of us who are out working to try to make this a better world. Shame on you Trek. You are disgraceful.
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Old 05-31-2008, 06:50 AM   #27
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Hey Guys,
I'm 23 years old and I have been working in the financial industry for about 5 year now. I currently manage a small bank in my hometown of Maryland, and i've been a manager here for a year and 3 months.
I also compete in Mixed Martial Arts, and i actually had a successful debut fight a few months back.
Recently, i've been feeling pretty bored with work, and feeling the need for a career change. i'm looking for something with a bit more excitement.
if anyone has experience in law enforcement or is familiar with it, can i please have some pros and cons?
i know an obvious Con would be the risk of the job, thanks
You seem to have a positive outlook, looking for a new field, I would say heck yes .

I have some good friends in the state police in NJ and would say they are one fantastic bunch of people who put their lives on the line everyday for all of us. I would say go for it and then a big Thank You!
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Old 05-31-2008, 07:49 AM   #28
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Walt, a bunch of my cop friends are out on disibility and SS disibility. Sorry, but out of a least 10 I know collecting this money only one has a real injury that would keep him from working and he wasn't hurt on the job yet he still collects. They all laugh about it and are in great shape and could go out and do a job. Very few lines of work will get you not only a tax free pension and SS didibility if your injured.

So you miss a few holidays, today many lines of work have to work weekends and holidays. I was in the car biz and not only had to work weekends but most every other day also.

Being a cop today is a great job and to get onto PD like Nassau or Sufflok counties on Long Island NY is almost impossible. When they give the test hundreds of thousands come out to take it. It's a good gig and good for you that you had it.
It says a lot about the character of your friends if they do that. Yes there were a couple I knew of - no more than three - who went out on "disability". They were not and are not my friends. Two were later found out and went back to work. The other the dept. was better off without, which I think is why they didn't pursue it. Most common is back injuries, which are difficult to prove/disprove, and many on this board with back injuries know that some days are great, some are terrible.

As far as working holidays I knew that going in and didn't whine about it. It matters to some people more than others.

I worked rotating shifts that changed every week, a practice since discontinued. The effect is that one's circadian rhythms get all screwed up, working in almost permanent "jet lag". If you've never done that for years on end you have no idea of the effect it has. Permanent shifts are a lot better.

As to how good the gig is, that depends a lot on the area. A guy I worked with was from Long Island and knew about the pay scales there, and yes, they are a good gig. Around here in WV I wouldn't touch it. Pitiful disability, $10k death benefit to family, lousy pay. But their hiring standards aren't so hot either. Long Island requires at least a bachelor's degree. WV only requires high school.

Why does the disability matter so much? Again, 20-25% go out that way, and legitimately. I doubt the same is true in the car biz, and the only place to buy insurance for police officers is Loyd's of London.

Not all departments have the same standards. I saw the video of the ones in New Orleans taking stuff from stores after Katrina with all the other thieves. Disgusting.
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Old 05-31-2008, 08:17 AM   #29
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Trek's comments are offensive and insulting. One of my Sons is a Police Officer, and every day that he puts on his uniform he puts his life on the line so that the rest of us can live our lives with some degree of safety. I picture people like Trek sitting at their kitchen table in their underwear using their computer to try to demean those of us who are out working to try to make this a better world. Shame on you Trek. You are disgraceful.
Well, that's your opinion.

Perhaps you should try to lighten up and not take everything so seriously / personally. Not every post is aimed at you or your family.

Your characterization of Trek ("sitting at their kitchen table in their underwear using their computer to try to demean") is banal and needlessly insulting. I know nothing about him/her, and you don't either.

If you don't like someone's post, by all means challenge its content; but spare us the ad hominem attacks.
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Old 05-31-2008, 09:15 AM   #30
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I think Texarkandy and Walt34 have made some insightful and information filled posts here. They are an example of this board at its best and I thank them for that.
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Old 05-31-2008, 09:47 AM   #31
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Police work is fun. There are many different departments out there, some are more professional than others. As far as the divorce rate, we were always told it's the same as the national average because the national average is high also.

A larger department means more opportunities for advancement in the future. The thing that always bothered me was when you promoted you usually had to go back to midnights or evenings and work your way back up to the top again. I always remember old timers who were detectives for years who got sent back to patrol on midnights because they pissed someone off also.

Local law enforcement and federal is a way different game. I had fun as a local but the pay and hours of federal sure is nice. Many departments require four year degrees now and in my academy class of 56 I think 54 of us had 4 year degrees and few were lawyers and CPAs so there are all types of people who become cops.

I liked being a street cop but when I think back about it I remember all the good times and fun there were many boring nights also. You are young, the federal hiring process is long and tedious. Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 years to go through the process for IRS or some of the other larger federal agencies. I would look at a good local department and apply there then consider federal. You have until 37 to go federal.

The one thing about being a police officer like someone else said, you get to make your own decisions and rarely is someone watching over your shoulder (except the public).
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Old 05-31-2008, 09:54 AM   #32
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I think Texarkandy and Walt34 have made some insightful and information filled posts here. They are an example of this board at its best and I thank them for that.
Most definitely, thank you guys. I'll definitely pursue it and hope for the best. Now my only real concern is that My girlfriend and I can make it. I've heard of the high divorce rates and such. Although her and I are not married, I do hope for it some day. Thanks to everyone for pitching in.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:22 PM   #33
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It says a lot about the character of your friends if they do that. Yes there were a couple I knew of - no more than three - who went out on "disability". They were not and are not my friends. Two were later found out and went back to work. The other the dept. was better off without, which I think is why they didn't pursue it. Most common is back injuries, which are difficult to prove/disprove, and many on this board with back injuries know that some days are great, some are terrible.

As far as working holidays I knew that going in and didn't whine about it. It matters to some people more than others.

I worked rotating shifts that changed every week, a practice since discontinued. The effect is that one's circadian rhythms get all screwed up, working in almost permanent "jet lag". If you've never done that for years on end you have no idea of the effect it has. Permanent shifts are a lot better.

As to how good the gig is, that depends a lot on the area. A guy I worked with was from Long Island and knew about the pay scales there, and yes, they are a good gig. Around here in WV I wouldn't touch it. Pitiful disability, $10k death benefit to family, lousy pay. But their hiring standards aren't so hot either. Long Island requires at least a bachelor's degree. WV only requires high school.

Why does the disability matter so much? Again, 20-25% go out that way, and legitimately. I doubt the same is true in the car biz, and the only place to buy insurance for police officers is Loyd's of London.

Not all departments have the same standards. I saw the video of the ones in New Orleans taking stuff from stores after Katrina with all the other thieves. Disgusting.
No doubt that some of the people I know are real charachters.

I mention disibility because of the high rate of officers that go out on it. Most of whom have not a thing wrong with them. It's very tempting to take advantage of 100K tax free pension and they do it all the time. The reason you don't see most other workers going out on disibility is because they don't have a disibility policy because they can't afford it. Not many jobs pay pensions after 20 years, so yes I think it's a good gig in most respects.

As far as danger, well a lot of jobs are dangerous, some more than others. If police work is what one chooses they know the deal up front, it's not like being drafted.

Also many of the cops that work tough areas are not paid well, yet others are paid more than the people they protect in many cases. Life's not always fair that way.
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Old 05-31-2008, 03:11 PM   #34
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I think most people could do almost any job for just one day, but being a police officer is not one of those jobs. I would be petrified every time I had to approach a car that was pulled over, knock on a door for a domestic dispute, even run a kid in for a dui. God bless all of the cops, even the bad apples--there's a reason bullet proof vests are part of the uniform.

Having said that, I just got this in an e-mail, which might be helpful when you take the exam:

A police recruit was asked during the exam, 'What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?' He answered, 'Call for backup.'
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Old 05-31-2008, 04:08 PM   #35
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Thirty eight years as a police officer (twenty in the NYPD - eighteen as chief of a small town on Cape Cod). There is no job like it. You'll see things and a part of the human experience that will be impossible to fully explain to those who haven't been there. Lots of different positions out there, from municipal, state and right on to federal law enforcement jobs. Depends on your background, education and goals.

I'm not sorry I did it. Two more years to go until I have to find another job...

Best of luck,

Rich
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Old 05-31-2008, 04:48 PM   #36
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Here in Canada cops make very good money. $65K to start after a 5 year training/probationary period (I think it's about 40K during that time) and then large increases YOY. An average cop makes over 100K where I live when reasonable overtime is factored in and they still can not find enough people to become cops here since salaries in the oil patch are so much higher.
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Old 05-31-2008, 05:43 PM   #37
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Well, that's your opinion.

Perhaps you should try to lighten up and not take everything so seriously / personally. Not every post is aimed at you or your family.

Your characterization of Trek ("sitting at their kitchen table in their underwear using their computer to try to demean") is banal and needlessly insulting. I know nothing about him/her, and you don't either.

If you don't like someone's post, by all means challenge its content; but spare us the ad hominem attacks.
Let me get this straight

Trek is allowed to make blanket statements insulting public servants but he needs you to tell us that we're not allowed to say anything about what kind of person it is who would say that?

Thanks for permission boss.
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Old 05-31-2008, 07:11 PM   #38
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Years ago I read an interview of a retiring police chief who was asked "Why did you want to be a police officer?" His answer about sums it up:

"You get a front-row seat to to the greatest show on earth. The human race."
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Old 05-31-2008, 07:55 PM   #39
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I am not a police officer. Never have been. However, I do know something about the job's affects in a large metropolitan area.

Policemen have an extremely high divorce rate.
They suffer from a high rate of alcoholism.
Many go out on disability at an early age.
They do make good money and do get overtime wages.
Their job is frustrating and political. They become quite cynical and have a "circle the wagon" mentality. It often becomes "us against the civilians"-- no matter who the civilians may be. Many become arrogant.
They are quite brave and courageous and will rise to the occasion.
They have groupies. (So, maybe that's the tipping point for you).
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Old 05-31-2008, 09:44 PM   #40
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I am not a police officer. Never have been. However, I do know something about the job's affects in a large metropolitan area.

Policemen have an extremely high divorce rate.
They suffer from a high rate of alcoholism.
Many go out on disability at an early age.
They do make good money and do get overtime wages.
Their job is frustrating and political. They become quite cynical and have a "circle the wagon" mentality. It often becomes "us against the civilians"-- no matter who the civilians may be. Many become arrogant.
They are quite brave and courageous and will rise to the occasion.
They have groupies. (So, maybe that's the tipping point for you).
OK, let's take these one at a time:

>Policemen have an extremely high divorce rate.

Married to the same woman for 38 years.

>They suffer from a high rate of alcoholism.

Don't remember the last time I had a drink. Not that I'm opposed to drinking beer or wine, just don't care for those drinks all that much.

>Many go out on disability at an early age.

Not me.

>They do make good money and do get overtime wages.

I do receive a decent salary but no overtime (I'm the chief). When I do retire I'll have two different pension incomes coming in from two different municipal governments.

>Their job is frustrating and political.

Yup, sure can be. After a while you learn that life is not fair, just or logical. You deal with it.

>They become quite cynical and have a "circle the wagon" mentality.

Not cynical, just realistic about viable life options. As to circle the wagon mentality, not sure how to respond to that one.

>It often becomes "us against the civilians"-- no matter who the civilians may be.

A police officers life experiences is so different from someone not in the field that if the officer is not careful there is a real danger to take on that mind-set. It takes a conscious effort to remember that my task is to serve the public.

>Many become arrogant.

I introduce myself to everyone I meet using my first name.


>They are quite brave and courageous and will rise to the occasion.

OK, I can live with this one....

>They have groupies.

Still looking.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

Rich
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