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Burn out or career change?


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  • Burn out or career change?

    Hey guys,

    I’ve been feeling very lost lately. I’ve recently switched departments and have been in law enforcement for 4.5 years (I know, still a rookie). Lately I have lost the drive or motivation to continue with this career. I have become very impatient with people and I have thought about trying to transition out of the career field. I have had to opportunity to work on SWAT for a year, I was an FTO for a year and a part of the rescue and recovery dive team for my agency for a year and a half.

    I don’t know if this is normal to feel like this, this early in my career. I love the law enforcement family I have built up over the years and admin has been pretty amazing through the years, it’s just the daily work of Patrol that I feel like I’ve lost my motivation to continue in this work.

    Any advice, or has anyone ever felt like this before?

  • #2
    Man...Rookies trying to tell us they are burned out. A whole 4.5 years, and on special teams while still wet behind the ears. Got trophies in grade school I bet.

    Come back in 10 years and tell us how burned out you are. You haven’t earned the right to be burned out. You’re still learning.
    Now go home and get your shine box!


    • chipperjones
      chipperjones commented
      Editing a comment
      I wouldn't put much weight into what this guy says, all his posts are negative, he's just some old retired cop with nothing better to do, but come online and complain about all the young whiper snappers even though he probably wouldn't have even made the force with the current pool of highly qualified applicants today. He would never admit that though.

    • BayAreaCBP
      BayAreaCBP commented
      Editing a comment
      chipperjones, I noticed that as well. Been lurking here for a year

    • Swsports22
      Swsports22 commented
      Editing a comment
      CCCSD, you always got something smart to say. True keyboard warrior. Man up and tell everyone what Dept you work for/worked for. Stop hiding behind a username talking **** daily. You’re a true pos

    • Nieto2588
      Nieto2588 commented
      Editing a comment
      His username gives away his department. I’m pretty sure he’s retired by now. Too crusty not to be. Contra Costa County Sheriffs Dept. He posts in a lot of the Bay Area threads.

  • #3
    The obvious question/answer would be have you thought about another unit other than patrol? Task force or investigations. As a cop, that seemed to be the normal transition unless you love patrol. Work the road for a couple to 5 years, get into a specialized unit of some sort then continue to expand your career or stay in it if you enjoy it. I felt the same way around the 5 year mark and I made a change.


    • #4
      Originally posted by nonotnow View Post
      The obvious question/answer would be have you thought about another unit other than patrol?...
      Yes, I agree.


      • #5
        Nearly on the exact timeline and I can empathize with you. Not sure where you're located but the majority of the cause of my burnout is the poor salary and having to work all the time (less family time) as well as the boredom. But hey, the economy is on a upswing currently, so it would be wise to make a career change if you find you don't want to make a career out of LE.


        • #6
          Burning out in this field isn't a matter of number of years. It's what you make of the job and if it's a right fit. In your situation, it might not be. You may be a good officer, but if you don't enjoy any part of this job, you should consider another career choice. The specialties that you've been involved in are some that others wait 5+ years to get in to.

          As for CCCSD, toss his comments aside. He's as salty as they get. You don't need to "earn the right," and if you're 5 years in, you're not a rookie. Your experience as a training officers and other specialty assignments show you're responsible and can handle a variety of collateral duties. I know many guys that left law enforcement to go private sector in fraud investigations and easily doubled their salary. Good luck in whatever you decide.


          • #7
            For me its about finding passion in your work. Are you in LE bc it's a job that seems cool and helps you to save up for a new bass boat or whatever you are into or did you get into it for a specific reason. I find purpose in serving as a protector and battling evil. Sure the job is usually not that dramatic buts a huge part of why I became an investigator. However when working patrol I loved engaging with the community and changing peoples perception of us and what we do. I wasn't trying to change the world but it made an impact in my little corner of it and that was enough for me and my passions. However, I digress; is there any part of LE that you can find passion in whether its helping children through ICAC work or making your community a safer place by working Narcs or Violent Crimes TF. I agree it can get old dealing with peoples BS all the time and the job and wear on you, but if you start every day with purpose it seems to make everything else just seem like background noise. So again, why did you get into LE in the first place?


            • #8
              I don't care if he has six months on. This is a tough line of work. Burnout is very real and can happen at any point.

              I've been so burned out at various junctures, it's a miracle I made it to the finish line.

              The peaks were high but the valleys were low. Very low.

              Years ago, I attended a professional development seminar where the speaker talked about how the #1 career ender for LEOs isn't injury or conduct issues- it's because their BS meter goes into the red zone and they leave out of frustration. It usually happens around the 10-15 year mark but can happen earlier or later.

              When you add a psychotic whackjob supervisor and institutional indifference about the kook to the equation, it accelerates burnout faster than adding nitrous oxide to a race car....

              Here's the deal:

              You have 4.5 years on. That's good. That means you have options.

              Start thinking about strategies. Such as this strategy: you decide to remain in LE, and seek counseling from a professional counselor on how to reduce work stress.

              Or this strategy: you decide to leave LE, and focus on which aspects of the job you enjoyed the most, and what other careers would value those aspects (for example, you enjoyed dealing with young people, ergo teaching).

              The world is full of people who went into LE and moved on to other things, for whatever reason, and not always by choice. I've known a few.

              Some have said jumping to a different career was the best thing that happened to them.

              Good luck.
              I used to be a banker but I lost interest.

              -Steven Wright


              • nonotnow
                nonotnow commented
                Editing a comment
                Always sage advice from Ratatatat

            • #9
              Police patrol work is essentially an entry level position in law enforcement. You shouldn’t feel bad about feeling burnt out after being in an entry level position for half a decade. In the private sector, you wouldn’t be looked down upon at all for thinking about a change if you were still doing entry level work for a company after five years. Also, if you factor in the relatively short amount of time it takes to learn and become proficient in police patrol, that five years can feel a whole lot longer. Even the SWAT and dive team duties are cool but you do that maybe a few times a month I assume. Your core duty is still patrol. That’s what you’re spending 99% of your time doing. So you’re not crazy for having these feelings. My advice would be to look into more challenging roles at state or federal investigative agencies. If that’s not an option and the only choice you are willing to entertain is stay at your department or find a new career, then you need to decide if law enforcement is truly your passion. I got burnt out at about the same as you and left law enforcement for the private sector and now, even though I hate it, I make too much money to ever go back. If you think you are truly still passionate about law enforcement work and being a cop, then don’t leave the career field, just ride it out through this rough patch. I can tell you from personal experience that there’s a big difference in being burnt out at a job you’re passionate about and being in a job that you genuinely despise.


              • #10
                I got burnt out at about the same as you and left law enforcement for the private sector and now, even though I hate it

                Which brings up another hidden truth: no matter who you work for and what you do, at the end of the day, it's still toil.

                (and why it's called 'work')

                Ultimately, the best you can hope for is finding a way to make a living that doesn't have you barfing in the driveway every morning as you head out the door....

                BUT, perspective is a huge factor. How you look at the situation. I recently went to a concert (The Who. I'm trying to see as many dinosaur acts as possible these days before they go to rock n' roll heaven). About 3/4 into the concert, Pete Townshend starts into a classic curmudgeon rant and says "I effing hate this", referring to playing live. Then he pauses and says, "But I'm very good at it." Evidently, that's the self-affirmation it takes for him to play the same songs, night after night, decade after decade.
                I used to be a banker but I lost interest.

                -Steven Wright


                • #11
                  I've been LE for 13yrs. In that time, the ups and downs come in cycles. I've been so burned out, and then will get a case that lights the fire in belly again. I've come to realize the downs are just as likely to happen as the ups, and they will throughout the rest of my career, but I love what I do too much to leave. If you truly love what you do, you should find a good life balance and the highs will be here before you know it.


                  • #12
                    Thank you everyone!

                    I’ve got some big decisions to make soon. Thank you all for your advice, I really appreciate it.

                    I don’t know if it’s because of starting in a new department (7 months in new department) in a new city or what but things seemed to be getting more and more like I need to pursue something more.


                    • #13
                      Give it one more year at your new department. Then, with a little more than 5 years as a leo, you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether this is the right line of work for you. If its not, its good that you realized it now as opposed to 10 years on the job. If a year from now you still are not right with it, start looking at a new things. But stick with it at least another year at your new dept to give it a honest chance. And get a hobby outside of work that has nothing to do with anyone or anything about your job. You need to be around other things and people in life to give yourself some balance. Good Luck with it.
                      Last edited by SHU; 07-09-2019, 05:43 PM.


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
                        Man...Rookies trying to tell us they are burned out. A whole 4.5 years, and on special teams while still wet behind the ears. Got trophies in grade school I bet.

                        Come back in 10 years and tell us how burned out you are. You haven’t earned the right to be burned out. You’re still learning.
                        I have 4.5 years on the job and would bet a fair amount of money I’ve handled more priority 911 calls in half a tour than you have in an entire month out in BFE.

                        Burnout is real, leaves a lasting impact regardless of years of service, and is one of several causes of police suicides.

                        Some advice in dealing with it— don’t make this job your whole life. At the end of the day, it’s just a job. Someone did it before you and someone will do it after you. Find a hobby and get involved with it.
                        Last edited by Manhattan 5-0; 08-18-2019, 10:16 PM.
                        "Relax, the handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch out after you wear them awhile."


                        • #15
                          I did 16 years in prison. I got burnt out with the state after 10 years so I went to the BOP. It was a change of pace but I got burnt out quick there. Now I work for DHS and so far it beats working around inmates. Heck, if it's possible with your agency try to spend a few month in the jail, that might help or at the least you will appreciate patrol more.


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