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  • Do I need a career change? Suggestions Please!

    So I’m exhausted with my current position/department and am in need of guidance for a job/career change. Although I would like to stay within the field of law enforcement, I am open to your suggestions. Please continue to read to better understand my situation. It’s a long post and might sound like a rant, but it’s more of a way for me to clear my head and ask for some objective opinions. For the last 4 years, 2 months and 21 days I have worked as a correctional officer for my local Sheriff’s Department. During the last 12 months I feel that I have succumbed to burnout.

    When I first started my job, I was quite excited to be employed in law enforcement. My uniform seemed to glisten with hope and aspirations and my badge to shine with a desire to help and protect. I felt as though I had a purpose and that my professional future was what I made of it. Then as time wore on I realized that my uniform was more lint filled from inmate blankets and my badge more of a target of inmate disrespect. The field of corrections was never my ultimate career choice, but more of a stepping stone towards police work. (I am in no way trying to belittle the field of corrections, because it is a necessary field filled with some excellent officers.)
    As time has ticked away, I have come to realize that my department has a very thick glass ceiling for the correctional bureau with zero hope to go to the road. Now in these tough economic times I am grateful to be employed, but appalled to go into work.

    Now I accept responsibility for the majority of my feelings because we can either make the best of our jobs, or focus on the worst. Unfortunately I seem to be observing my glass as being half empty and I haven’t quite figured out how to change this.

    Now what made me go from excitement to melancholy? Here are a few trouble spots I have identified:
    • Administration:
    My administration is more willing to listen to the word of an inmate, and will quickly place an officer on administrative leave for any allegation. As a union representative in my facility, this is an epidemic of proving yourself innocent since the administration has already found you guilty purely based on hearsay. On the flipside of this, the administration does not back us up in enforcing the very rules they have created for the inmates.
    • Command Staff:
    My direct supervisors work on a buddy system. If you’re not in the buddy system, good luck with getting overtime, good posts, etc. Now I have some excellent supervisors, but unfortunately the bad outweighs the good.
    • Co-Workers:
    I had always envisioned a brotherhood/sisterhood of the badge when I took my job, but it’s quite the opposite. My bureau seems to be plagued with individuals who enjoy setting up new officers for failure, and more interested in creating and spreading hurtful gossip. I have never had a job that was so close to being like high school. I feel as though I’ve gone right back to my teens.
    • Inmates:
    Having to tell individuals who are my age or older the same thing over and over has taken a toll on me. I never knew that my job would be babysitting adults. I hand out soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and ensure that major arguments don’t breakout over what the program of the night is going to be on television. Also enforcing rules is a lost cause, because you end up receiving grievances for violating civil rights which the administration takes as fact.
    • Lack of opportunity:
    There is not a lot of room for advancement when most specialty positions consist of one staff member who’s related/married to a sergeant etc.
    • Lack of Positivity:
    I deal with negative people (both officers/inmates) and negative situations daily. Although my career never use to affect my personal life, it is slowly draining my home life.

    Now for those who have read the entirety of my post, I want to sincerely thank you. This is where I am going to ask you for your help and guidance. What should I do about my burnout and current feelings? I feel that a job change would help immensely and I am currently in the process for Immigration Enforcement Agent, but would doing something other than corrections be beneficial to me? Am I feeling the way I am due to a lack of maturity in the professional work world? I realize that there are hundreds of people who wish they could have my job, but I just can’t seem to make myself content with my job anymore. I have heard/read many times that all departments have similar issues, but I just can’t fathom that they are all at the same level as my facility.

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions!

  • #2
    Wow dude! I can't speak from experience but I can recommend the Border Patrol! I have been through the application process and now am going to the academy. Sounds like you are miserable with your situation and the BP would be a big change for you! I am taking the BP as a fresh breath of air coming from the military and maybe it could work for you! Just my .02 cents!!

    Comment


    • #3
      brother, there's no reason to go thru life being miserable. If you hate your job, get out. Too many people wake up and dread going to work, and complain about it as if there was no way they could change the situation. I'm not saying changing your job would be and easy decision or process, but i would rather go thru hell with glory on the other side than dwelling in it for ever. Get out man, move on to something that will make you happy, and bring joy. You know what that is for you, no one else can tell you, but go for it nonetheless. Good luck brother!

      Comment


      • #4
        I am not sure what you level of education is but your post is well written. Like yourself, I do not want to "put down" correctional officers but it is well known that you need a minimal level of education to obtain the position. I would have never served as a c.o. before I worked patrol, it just wasnt my thing. If you are willing to relocate there are many places where you go straight to the road.

        Do you have a 2yr or 4 yr degree? You may want to consider going back to school. Education is very important.. However I think it is not as valued as it should be in the field of l.e. Most of the time its not about how smart you are or what degrees you have but simply how many years you have been on the road.. of course experience is very important.

        Think about what aspects of a career are valuable and meaningful to you..
        I think alot of your negative feelings would continue no matter what area of l.e. you are in.

        Do you really want to stay in law enforcement? Or would you like to try to use your previous experience as a stepping stone for something else? Obviously its totally your decision I'm just giving you things to think about.

        Good Luck,
        Steve

        Comment


        • #5
          I am someone who went to a top 40 university, received my degree in journalism, from one of the most well-respected programs in the country, graduated with honors and I work for the federal prison system as a CO. I also have 27 credits towards a Master's and work with a handful of CO's that have advanced degrees.

          I can tell you, I have experienced and felt the same way as this poster. The job is difficult in a way that only those that I have worked in the field could tell you. You know how demeaning it is to be handing a food tray to someone or to pick up that dirty food tray off the ground when they are don with it? To be accused of something by an inmate, something you did not do ? To be intelligent and hardworking but to be constantly overlooked for praise or promotion?

          When you work in corrections, it is amazing how many people you work with want to see you fail. They go above and beyond to help someone, but when you ask for help they just walk away. I have come to the conclusion that this occurs because they are jealous of your background and don't think you will stick with the job.

          When I started, my first year I was constantly changing shifts. One week it would be days, the next it would be mornings and the next it would be evenings. Five or six times they switched me from evenings to mornings, which forced me to work a double shift.

          I have been at my job for nearly 3 1/2 years, trust me I thought it would be a stepping stone. I am going to stick with it because I don't mind it as much anymore because I have learned not to stress out about the B/S. Do I love it no? But I focus on activities I enjoy to do outside of work. I am also in the process for three jobs (ICE SA, ICE IEA, USMS) as I have learned over the last several years to focus all my energy and hopes on just one job.

          You may ask yourself, why is this guy working at a prison? Well, I didnt make the cut for the state police and one local pd I applied for (made the mistake of putting 'all my eggs in one basket'). I could have gotten a job with the state as a CO but I was cocky 23 year old kid and I thought I was better than the job. I then worked with juvenile delinquents and in community corrections in hopes of landing a job in probation or parole. After three years of that, I became a CO. I did it because I viewed it as a stepping-stone, hoping that in two to four years I would land the job I want. I think I still have a good chance of meeting that goal.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by WISCH View Post
            So I’m exhausted with my current position/department and am in need of guidance for a job/career change. Although I would like to stay within the field of law enforcement, I am open to your suggestions. Please continue to read to better understand my situation. It’s a long post and might sound like a rant, but it’s more of a way for me to clear my head and ask for some objective opinions. For the last 4 years, 2 months and 21 days I have worked as a correctional officer for my local Sheriff’s Department. During the last 12 months I feel that I have succumbed to burnout.
            I totally understand. I've recently realized that I am wasting my potential as a C/O (Thanks to a few posts on this site, I started taking a closer look at my job.) I've been doing this for 6 years, 10 months, 11 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes and 19 seconds. Not to dig on my fellow C/O's but too many them have no business in Corrections. At my facility I see way too much arrogance, backstabbing, lying, stealing, ignorance, nepotism, favoritism, and/or inmate hugging. Heck, we have several fridges that now have locks on them because people couldn't stop stealing each others food.

            My plan is to sell my house, transfer to a facility closer to a big city and apply for either in of those bigger cities PD's. Or just apply to PD's out of state. I work in a sick leave relief position and don't deal with the BS as much. Just when I try to follow policy and hold inmates accountable. You say you work for your local sheriff. I didn't see it but have you tried to shift over to deputy? Regardless I think it is time for something new. Just don't quit your job until you have a new one.

            Comment


            • #7
              I know what you're talking about man, I work at adult probation and it's almost the same thing where we babysit offenders, telling them what they can and can't do what time they have to be in bed by and so on. I've been in the process for border patrol for about six months and just completed every step in the process and just waiting for the call. I've always loved the outdoors and agree with the other posters that if you don't feel happy with your job find something that appeals to you.

              Comment


              • #8
                Your feelings are pretty consistent with a lot of people who went into corrections looking for a stepping stone into road patrol. Even if you don't have a college degree, your time in corrections will help you along in the process. If your ambition is still in getting out on the road, start looking outside if your own agency.

                Going into IEA is definitely a change from what you're doing now, but it's not road patrol. If you want to go into federal law enforcement into an 1811 position at some point, I'd say continue with trying IEA. If you want to be a street cop, start throwing out applications.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I read your post, and it sounds ridiculously similar to my observations/feelings after 3 years of teaching high school. Everything you posted is the same, except substitute "students" for "inmates". And you think staff gossip is bad at a Sheriff's Office, imagine WORKING in a high school!

                  I couldn't take it, left for greener pastures. I'm now looking for a LEO job and have the same hopes/goals/aspirations you did when you started. While I know LE is the right place for me to be, I've come across the understanding that I won't agree with everything and everyone, and I simply hope to find a place I fit and feel I belong where I can do my part while being patient with the things I can't change.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment. I greatly appreciate your feedback and guidance.

                    Originally posted by Hope2BPA View Post
                    Wow dude! I can't speak from experience but I can recommend the Border Patrol! I have been through the application process and now am going to the academy. Sounds like you are miserable with your situation and the BP would be a big change for you! I am taking the BP as a fresh breath of air coming from the military and maybe it could work for you! Just my .02 cents!!
                    I applied with the Border Patrol in 2008, but I withdrew my application after receiving a TO. Having spoken with a BPA recruiter, I was told that there would be a great possibility of being stationed in a dissolute town. My wife is absolutely onboard for moving, but only with certain available creature comforts. If I were still single, I would have absolutely gone for it.

                    Originally posted by Goose49 View Post
                    brother, there's no reason to go thru life being miserable. If you hate your job, get out. Too many people wake up and dread going to work, and complain about it as if there was no way they could change the situation. I'm not saying changing your job would be and easy decision or process, but i would rather go thru hell with glory on the other side than dwelling in it for ever. Get out man, move on to something that will make you happy, and bring joy. You know what that is for you, no one else can tell you, but go for it nonetheless. Good luck brother!
                    Thanks for your well wishes. I definitely agree that I need to get out. Being a Union Representative only magnifies this matter to me on a daily basis. I’m just waiting for a job offer before I jump ship. The responsibilities of bills and my wife require the steady paycheck. Oh to be young again, and do it all over!

                    Originally posted by sco0437 View Post
                    I am not sure what you level of education is but your post is well written. Like yourself, I do not want to "put down" correctional officers but it is well known that you need a minimal level of education to obtain the position. I would have never served as a c.o. before I worked patrol, it just wasnt my thing. If you are willing to relocate there are many places where you go straight to the road.

                    Do you have a 2yr or 4 yr degree? You may want to consider going back to school. Education is very important.. However I think it is not as valued as it should be in the field of l.e. Most of the time its not about how smart you are or what degrees you have but simply how many years you have been on the road.. of course experience is very important.

                    Think about what aspects of a career are valuable and meaningful to you..
                    I think alot of your negative feelings would continue no matter what area of l.e. you are in.

                    Do you really want to stay in law enforcement? Or would you like to try to use your previous experience as a stepping stone for something else? Obviously its totally your decision I'm just giving you things to think about.

                    Good Luck,
                    Steve
                    Steve,
                    Thanks for your comments. As for my education, I hold my Masters in psychology and my undergraduate in Sociology. I’m fluent in Spanish and am currently studying Arabic. I am definitely willing to relocate, but preferably for the right position. Realistically, I’m very interested in getting out of Illinois. I’m sick of the high taxes, corrupt politics, and constantly cold weather. As to leaving the field of law enforcement altogether, I’m not completely sure. After reading through the forums, I’ve become extremely interested in the Federal Protective Services. I’m still however open to any suggestions anyone might have.
                    Originally posted by tdparmel View Post
                    You may ask yourself, why is this guy working at a prison? Well, I didnt make the cut for the state police and one local pd I applied for (made the mistake of putting 'all my eggs in one basket'). I could have gotten a job with the state as a CO but I was cocky 23 year old kid and I thought I was better than the job. I then worked with juvenile delinquents and in community corrections in hopes of landing a job in probation or parole. After three years of that, I became a CO. I did it because I viewed it as a stepping-stone, hoping that in two to four years I would land the job I want. I think I still have a good chance of meeting that goal.
                    I sometimes ask myself why I ended up working in corrections! Honestly, I needed a job after graduating grad school and they were the only department hiring. I actually did an internship in juvenile probation when I was attending grad school. I had thought about becoming a probation officer but was discouraged by the low salary and high caseloads. Another problem was the amount of layoffs probation officers experience in my state.

                    Originally posted by KJB View Post
                    I totally understand. I've recently realized that I am wasting my potential as a C/O (Thanks to a few posts on this site, I started taking a closer look at my job.) I've been doing this for 6 years, 10 months, 11 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes and 19 seconds. Not to dig on my fellow C/O's but too many them have no business in Corrections. At my facility I see way too much arrogance, backstabbing, lying, stealing, ignorance, nepotism, favoritism, and/or inmate hugging. Heck, we have several fridges that now have locks on them because people couldn't stop stealing each others food.

                    My plan is to sell my house, transfer to a facility closer to a big city and apply for either in of those bigger cities PD's. Or just apply to PD's out of state. I work in a sick leave relief position and don't deal with the BS as much. Just when I try to follow policy and hold inmates accountable. You say you work for your local sheriff. I didn't see it but have you tried to shift over to deputy? Regardless I think it is time for something new. Just don't quit your job until you have a new one.
                    I laughed when I read your post. My facility has had a mysterious food bandit since I’ve started, and the administration has considered placing locks on our refrigerators. I actually lock my dinner in my locker so that it’s still there when I go down on break. It’s sad that I work with criminals in two different sets of uniforms. As for transferring over to patrol, I would have to test like anyone else off the street. The only difference is that the Sheriff doesn’t like to make more vacancies in the corrections bureau by pulling correctional officers and investing more money to send them back to academy. I definitely think it’s time for something new, just the wrong economic time for job opportunities. I’m definitely going to suffer through my job until I land something else.

                    Originally posted by duarte82 View Post
                    I know what you're talking about man, I work at adult probation and it's almost the same thing where we babysit offenders, telling them what they can and can't do what time they have to be in bed by and so on. I've been in the process for border patrol for about six months and just completed every step in the process and just waiting for the call. I've always loved the outdoors and agree with the other posters that if you don't feel happy with your job find something that appeals to you.
                    It’s sad when we have to work with adults that just don’t seem to want to play by the rules. I can understand setting the groundwork for rules once or even twice; but over and over again?
                    Originally posted by StudChris View Post
                    Your feelings are pretty consistent with a lot of people who went into corrections looking for a stepping stone into road patrol. Even if you don't have a college degree, your time in corrections will help you along in the process. If your ambition is still in getting out on the road, start looking outside if your own agency.

                    Going into IEA is definitely a change from what you're doing now, but it's not road patrol. If you want to go into federal law enforcement into an 1811 position at some point, I'd say continue with trying IEA. If you want to be a street cop, start throwing out applications.
                    I originally set out with the idea to eventually become a street cop, but I’m open to different opportunities. The IEA position would definitely be a step in the right direction due to the amount of mobility that it offers after your probationary period. I just continue to get excited about the Federal Protective Services. Something about the lack of interaction with inmates makes me extremely happy. Unfortunately they’re not currently accepting applications. As for throwing out applications, very few departments seem to be currently hiring. In fact, some departments are looking at more budget constraints. I really hope that the economy or Federal hiring starts to take off in the near future!
                    Originally posted by kylet123 View Post
                    I read your post, and it sounds ridiculously similar to my observations/feelings after 3 years of teaching high school. Everything you posted is the same, except substitute "students" for "inmates". And you think staff gossip is bad at a Sheriff's Office, imagine WORKING in a high school!

                    I couldn't take it, left for greener pastures. I'm now looking for a LEO job and have the same hopes/goals/aspirations you did when you started. While I know LE is the right place for me to be, I've come across the understanding that I won't agree with everything and everyone, and I simply hope to find a place I fit and feel I belong where I can do my part while being patient with the things I can't change.
                    You can literally talk about the high school mindset of gossip with some authority! I completely concur with the fact that you cannot agree with everything and everyone. I’m just looking for a happy medium as opposed to where I am currently. I’m just worn out. Good luck to you with your endeavors in entering law enforcement. I wish you the best, and most importantly the satisfaction of enjoying what you do!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Don't think that changing jobs is going to change the way some coworkers interact with each other. Being a street cop really is like being in high school all over again, with the rumor mills and "I was told that so and so heard that...", and I'm sure that the feds are no different.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        WISCH,

                        Wow, I couldnt imagine having a Master’s degree and working in a prison. How much do you get to use your intellect while working in a prison?

                        While working in local l.e. I found that I didnt use my "thinking" skills as much as a I wanted. I found almost all of the tasks to be very repetitive thus you learn them fairly quickly-- even though I had fun doing it. Plus like you have stated, working with street thugs and some "high school" coworkers can dumb you down a little if you arent careful.

                        I decided to further my education and will graduate with my Juris Doctor in December. Honestly, I have thought sometimes about returning to the field of law enforcement but then I think about why I left and what I wanted in a job. Personally, I want to challenge myself intellectually every day on a higher level, work more in a white collar environment and make better money.

                        It made me angry sometimes to work with cops who had a GED or high school diploma when I had a B.S. It’s probably the same with some of the CO's in the prisons.
                        Last edited by sco0437; 07-23-2009, 09:31 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          With your qualifications do not just limit yourself to the IEA job. You would probably make a good investigator. I would look into 1811 jobs, ICE SA was recruiting on June 22nd. I know the FBI is open and the Secret Service always seems to have an active announcement.

                          Good luck.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            WISHCH, I will break down the IEA news for you. If you feel you are burned out in the corrections field, well be prepared to again be in the corrections setting as an IEA right out of the Academy. You have to understand the main foucs on ICE DRO is detention and removal. Where in the correctional setting you detain and then release in due time. Same concept as an IEA who use to be called a DEO (Detention Enforcement Officer) before 2003.

                            As far as mobility? Unless you apply for open job in other offices, be prepared to stay at the one they offer, which could be a detention center for a while.

                            Good luck. Might want to read the IEA thread thats going on in here.

                            Total process could take you a year or more.
                            "An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hey Code Seven,

                              I sent you a pm.

                              Yeah, ive thought about police admin.. You would think a dept would value a law degree at least when it comes to the promotions process.

                              Comment

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