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What do you think? The security of law enforcement careers

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  • What do you think? The security of law enforcement careers

    My name is Carole Moore and although I am no longer on active duty as a police officer, I still cover law enforcement issues by writing for Law Enforcement Technology. Officer.com editor Frank Borelli has graciously allowed me to post here on occasion in connection with stories I am pursuing for that publication.

    Right now I am interested in sparking discussion about the future of law enforcement -- and public safety careers in general. When I first strapped on a gun belt, we told each other, "We might not make much money, but we'll always have a job." Sadly, with cut-backs and lay-offs, that is no longer the case in many places.

    So, I ask you: Have your pensions and/or benefits changed? Do these changes (or the possibility of these changes) affect your decision to stay in the profession? If you are entering the workforce as a new recruit, did the perceived stability of a law enforcement career influence your career choice? Have recent events changed your mind?

    Discussion and ideas would be terrific, but I'd also like to talk to you off the boards, if you're amenable. I will hold your remarks in confidence unless you give me permission to use them.

    I am also looking for suggestions of criminal justice executives -- police chiefs, sheriffs, etc, -- who have been strong advocates for their officers or who have gone on the record to defend their officers' paychecks and fight against cuts. If you know one, please let me know.

    I can be reached at carolemoore_biz (AT) yahoo.com.

    Thanks for reading.

    Carole

  • #2
    Carole,

    Since you went to the trouble of getting the ok from the site before posting I'll happily answer your questions. If you'd like shoot me a PM with whatever questions you have and I'll reply back with whatever feedback I can offer.
    sigpic

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    • #3
      Carole,

      Have your pensions and/or benefits changed?

      Yes, they have changed but I still believe that there are so many new officers out there eager to wear the badge that the issue of benefits will not deter them. When I was very new I took a second job to supplement my income just to be a cop full-time in the city I currently work for. We haven't had raises in a while and the health insurance took on a little change but if they didn't we never would have been able to afford a new officer. I think it was worth it.

      Do these changes (or the possibility of these changes) affect your decision to stay in the profession?

      Most of us have a choice and more of us have an education now-a-days so I think that most of us still have the option to leave the profession and go into the private sector if it is a paycheck we seek. However, I still see 300+ applicants apply for 1 position in a city that used to never get more than a dozen applications at a time. I think that people are still viewing LE as a stable job that pays enough to get by. Unfortunately these people with the aforementioned mentality create a hazard for the rest of us.

      Carole as you know the money was never the deciding factor for most of us just like other public service members. We are still attracting highly educated individuals that can make more money in a safer environment. Basically the recession is giving LE agencies much higher standards than earlier times. The only downfall of all this is that once the private sector is booming again we may see an influx of opening that will take years to fill leaving a very large gap in numbers leading to yet another safety hazard in the profession.

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      • #4
        Those are very good points, mickymedic. We always had tons of applicants for every opening, but they weren't always qualified. It's my understanding that while the agency still operates below full strength due to the time gap between hiring and field training, they currently have enough quality applicants to allow them to turn away some who are already certified, something that rarely happened in the old days.

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        • #5
          Carole,

          Have your pensions or benefits changed?

          Since we don't have a pension, the recession has not hurt it... Our benefits have not changed. Command staff does not want to pay for overtime anymore, but will let you use the comp time you acrue.

          Our County pays 8% into our 401k's and with my 10%, 18% of my pay to retirement is going to be a nice chunk of change at the end.

          In one way a defined pension is nice, but on the other, my risk is my reward or my poor house. I like it. It works with mine, and a number of people I know in LE's mindset. Intelligent assessment of the variables and you make your rich/poor life/death/promotion/demotion/success/failure reality... until 2012 that is...

          Do these changes (or the possibility of these changes) affect your decision to stay in the profession?

          As people get older they tend to take a longer view of life because they have shorter days to enjoy. I think young people will make the leap and not worry about what will happen 30 years later because their still invincible, and they only have a few years of experience as an "Adult" to make a decision that will effect them the rest of their lives...
          Last edited by Dep D; 03-21-2011, 07:32 AM.
          Be safe pulling back into the thread...
          http://infidelswithhonor.com/

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          • #6
            Things are changing in general.

            For a long time, the retirement package was the king of goals for most workers in America. Almost all med/Large companies offered a gold watch and a pension in return for a certian time of service.

            Over the last couple decades, folks have become more financially aware (not responsible, but aware) and they have started to manipulate their own money for their futures. This interest in something other than a set calculated retirement led into more people investing on their own, 401K's mutual investments and IRA's, which for the most part are better than a lot of traditional retirement packages (If managed well).

            Another issue to figure in is the fact that people are living much longer that they did when the retirement process was concieved. In the middle of the 20th Century someone living to age 70 was impressive. They were only on the retirement books for about 15 years. Now a healthy American can go for another decade after that if they take care of themselves. This longevity turns a companies retirement members into a massive paid legacy group.

            While cutting of benefits sucks, thare are options available. I think the cut in retirements is partially driven by the demand of workers to have more say in their retirement, and the increase in options is driven by the changes in retirement standards (Viscious Cycle).

            M-11
            “All men dream...... But not equally..
            Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it is vanity;
            but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
            for they act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.....”

            TE Lawrence

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            • #7
              Thanks. These are very good points. Do you think the changes in benefits are affecting the number of new recruits into the profession or their plans for staying active duty law enforcement?

              Carole

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              • #8
                I think it's is a pretty secure job. Especially if your a first responder on the road. The way the economy a lot of departments aren't getting pay raises, no paid over time, or working with a 'bulky' shift. But these are things that must happen so they don't have to lay people off. When I sit back and look at it I'm thankful to just have a job doing what I enjoy. It
                May come to the day when the governments can't afford to put enough cops on the road. I hope it never comes to that for everyones sake.
                Last edited by DeputySC; 03-21-2011, 03:22 PM.

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                • #9
                  This has been a very germane conversation here in Wisconsin of late. There are some that are absolutely losing their minds over some of the proposed changes here. As such, I'll address the second question first.

                  Do these changes (or the possibility of these changes) affect your decision to stay in the profession?

                  Most guys are pretty content where they are right now, but I've heard more talk of late about people developing side projects or examining private sector options. In the end, however, most of us are here because we have a spirit of service. We got into law enforcement (and stayed in law enforcement) more because its a calling then for the benefit package or job stability.

                  Realistically, unless you're the low man on the totem pole, we still have a remarkably stable profession. Especially when you compare what's going on in the private sector. The dynamics are changing a bit, but in the end, there will always be a need for the police. Traditionally, bad economic times means that the police are needed more, not less. I really think we'll see the pendulum swing back the other way fairly soon.

                  Have your pensions or benefits changed?

                  They're about to. We've never had to pay into our pensions before and very soon, we'll be paying in 5.8%. That's probably the biggest change since I started in 1994. Its not unprecedented though. Back around 2000, the Wisconsin Retirement System changed the retirement formula from 2.2 to 2.0. That doesn't sound like much, but it made a pretty big difference in one's retirement payout.

                  All the other benefits have remained fairly static with the exception of health care. Insurance keeps getting pricier each year and the county is consistently asking us to pay a bigger part.
                  Originally posted by kontemplerande
                  Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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