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Should I stick with it or find a new job?

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  • Should I stick with it or find a new job?

    Nothing brought on by a huge crisis or anything, just been thinking about it and trying to decide; looking for some guidance from fellow officers. Most of my input on this subject is coming from family and friends and, though I know they're worried about my safety, I think that bias may be clouding their opinions.

    On the other hand, I'm guessing most of ya'll are fairly well set in your career paths. I'm assuming the people here are happy with what they do and over all satisfied with how their lives are turning out. If this is the case likely you'll be wondering how anyone can question the awesomest job ever. Which, in a lot of ways, it is. So I'm expecting advice from the other end of the spectrum which, irrespective of how well it fits me, would serve to counterbalance the other stuff I'm hearing. Though if you fall a bit closer to the middle, that's alright too.

    I've worked here for a year and some change. I've found that it's doing what a job needs to do for me to live. It pays my bills and gives me a bit leftover besides. Something that can't be said for a lot of jobs out there.

    With this particular job, I don't get a whole lot of action, so I really can't say I'm a cop. Just a guy doing his job. Few, if any, moral hazards, no grizzled veteran of the street am I. I'm more or less the same kid I was when I stepped into the office with the ink still drying on my degrees.

    I've got a couple options open, I've pared it down to just three:

    1) I can continue working in this system. Whether I stay here or transfer to Guam, Ireland, or whatever. It would certainly change things up a bit.

    2) I can try to get into a "better" department. By better, I mean one that really uses me. Here I'm definitely not being challenged by the job.

    3) Or I can get out of law enforcement and take a job elsewhere.

    ---

    1) I kinda like my job. I mean, it's better than being a janitor, right? If nothing changes, more likely than not, this will be the kind of job a guy can get, stay for 20 years, and retire off of.

    Perks:

    -Lots of free time, discretion, and lack of oversight.

    -Plenty of pay for very little work.

    -Get along well with the entire department.

    -High ratings in all performance reviews.

    -When actual LE related work occurs, it's totally cool. I get to drive really fast, everyone's happy to see me, and I get letters, decorations, and accolades for being such a productive member of society.

    -Service, danger, and spending time with loved ones are my greatest joys. Just life experiences in general, I suppose. Though I haven't gotten too many from here, I have had some.

    -Get to completely change location without getting out of the system. I can do the same thing nearly anywhere in the world.

    -We have -so- much money to throw at training and gear it's not even funny.

    Downsides:

    -Too little to do. Part of it has to do with having such a large patrol area with so few people. The other part involves administrative and personnel restrictions that hamper me in finding more stuff to do.

    -It's all reactionary. There isn't a crime problem where I work. Thus, everything I go to has already happened and I'm merely there to pick up the pieces.

    ---

    2) Based on what I've heard, learned, and researched, a bigger department lacks the negatives that my current one has. Maybe I'll move to Canada and get a job with VPD. Or maybe I'll stay in the state and try to get on in Tacoma or something. I've got family in California, maybe there's something there for me. I could also just transfer to a department that's more active than the one I'm at now with very little pain in the transition.

    (From the perspective of changing agencies)

    Perks:

    -More LE related work to do. As I actually enjoy that kind of stuff, my job satisfaction could be far greater, methinks.

    -Possibility of getting into more proactive law enforcement specialties. Drugs, investigation, intel, high-risk, etc. Or I could just help old ladies get their cats out of trees. It's better than being bored, right?

    -Greater quality of off-duty time. I'm a big fan of culture. I like festivals, museums, people watching. Kinda strange, but I actually enjoy vibrant, lively cities. Bad air and all. There's only so many times I can appreciate sagebrush and tumbleweeds before I start questioning my sanity.

    Downsides:

    -Work life would change to the opposite end of the spectrum. I'd be working my *** off and not getting paid enough to do it. Likely my pay would be greater, even adjusting for changes in cost of living, but it may or may not be enough compensation for dealing with the people.

    -I'd be starting off basically from scratch again. There's no guarantee it'd be as easy to get along at the new place as it was in the old. I'd also have to re-learn various tasks and deal with totally new situations.

    -Not sure how most department budgets look these days, but they can't be that well off. Probably not enough latitude to send rookies off on bizarre training expeditions or to outfit everyone in the latest and greatest toys.

    ---

    3) Maybe it's not my department. Maybe it's just me. If it is, then going to a larger department will merely serve to stress me out and waste more of my time. I haven't got a whole lot invested into this profession; getting out is an option.

    Perks:

    -I'll no longer have to worry so much about violating someone's civil rights and torts.

    -Not walking the thin blue line is a good idea when attempting to avoid violent, crazy people.

    -Easier to meet people and make new friends. Though the quality of those friends may be questionable, lying about what I do for a living is unattractive to me.

    -There are far more lucrative opportunities in the civilian world. Cops don't stay in it for the money.

    Downsides:

    -I'll no longer be a guardian of our society. Just another schmuck trying to get by. Nothing wrong with just living life, right? If I get the hankering for fighting, I'll watch a movie or play some video games. Let the character get shot while I stay safe on the couch.

    -Personal fulfillment and self-actualization come from within, no change of jobs or careers will make me happier. Money doesn't get me off, which seems to be about the only thing a civilian job will offer.

    -I'll lose out on the camaraderie and no longer have access to the LE circle. Sure, plenty of people do just fine without it. But I actually like most of the LEO's I've met. After getting out of the army, well, I'm not as close to any cops as I was with the guys in my platoon, but it's still a nice group to be a member of and the closest non-military equivalent I have encountered.

    -I'd be giving up on my dreams. No, not the high minded ideas you've got. Mine are more juvenile. I want to be the guy people can turn to for help. The guy who keeps it together when everything is falling apart around him. To fight for people who can't do it themselves. To leave this place better than I found it. To make a few more things right in a world full of so much wrong. But sometimes dreams are just dreams. And you gotta let 'em go.

    -I would no longer be able to post here or on other LEO forums.

    ---

    Like I said, things are going great from a logical perspective. Just some stuff I've been kicking around over the last couple months. I've been debating putting this up, but some opportunities have arose that are certainly attractive. At worst, this'll be viewed as a -very- long waaah post. At best, I'll get some different opinions on my analysis and there'll be an informative discussion on why we're all staying in, doing what we do. Either way, life goes on.

    So, thoughts?

  • #2
    Well Paladin you have some potentially life changing decisions to make in the coming monthes. I must admit that many of the options you are thinking of, I have thought of in the past.

    Really there are several things you must weigh out in my opinion. Keep in mind these are just my opinion and based on the dilemma I was presented with.

    1) Can you reacclamate to just becoming one of the sheep when you have been the sheepdog? I know personally I could not go back to being one of the mindless sheep (civilians, sorry I know it is a harsh reference but its true.) when have been the sheep dog protecting the sheep from the those that prey on them.

    2) Are you happy with this career? If you are happy with this career and cannot think of yourself doing anything else, i think you will regret leaving the career behind.

    3) When you contemplate the change of careers, can you think of something that would give you the same amount of personal satisfaction that Law Enforcement does? For me it was no. If you leave this career because your family wants you too, or some outside force wants you to, you will resent yourself or your family members for forcing you to quit a job you loved.

    4) In reference to staring with a new and bigger agency, do you think it will advance your career and make you happier with your career? In my situation I did change to a bigger and much more active department. In my experience there were positives and negatives to each. However, let me forewarn you that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Going to a bigger department, you will likely face some of the following, mandatory OT due to high call volume, tons of court time, less time with your family,obviously a higher risk on the job (but lets be honest if any of us were worried about that we wouldn't be doing this career), just being an ID number in a large department does not usually forge as good a comradiere as a small department, and finally you are just a rookie at the bottom of the food chain again.
    On the positive side if you are into more action there is plenty to be had, proactive policing makes work much more enjoyable, with larger departments usually larger pay comes as well, and better lateral movement and promotion opportunities.
    These are all things to think of when making this big decision. I made my decision to move to a bigger department and have mixed feelings about it. I recently lost my girlfriend of two years due to the ridiculous amount of mandatory OT i have had to work and all the court time which allows for little personal time. Stack any offduty employment on top of that and you get the picture. I love that I work at a bigger department and always learning new things from all the FUBAR'ed situations I deal with which allows be to grow as an officer. Lateral movement has also been much for me.

    Goodluck in the upcoming monthes and whatever you decide, make sure YOU are happy with the decision. In the end family matters, but in the end I would rather do what I love then be stuck in a job I hate for 30 years and resent my family for forcing me to change.

    Good luck and Be Safe!

    Comment


    • #3
      It is apparent that you've identified many of the positive and negatives associated with the possibility of changing your career direction. Only you can answer the question and live with both the rewards and possible regrets of change.

      Follow your heart and your gut. God has a purpose for everyone, find your purpose. If you're telling yourself that you're not there yet, keep moving until you arrive.

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      • #4
        Stick with L.E.! I've learned in my brief time on the job that it has a really quick burn out rate and if you do the job and leave it there, get comfortable with realizing you're not going to change the world, set up for a comfortable retirement, don't let the job run you into the ground and don't let the knuckeheads we deal with ruin your outlook on society you'll be better off.

        You work the job, don't let the job work you.

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        • #5
          If you are bored and sick of being reactive, try being proactive. Hunt. Work lots of traffic. When you aren't being sent on a call, stop cars. When you do stop them remember to dig. It's not about mindlessly issuing cites. 80% of all crimes involve a vehicle. Go find the bad guys. Sounds like you want more of a challenge, so get out there and be aggressive.

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          • #6
            Buddy, I have been through what you are pondering. Maybe you can benefit from my experience.

            I had just about 10 years in a uniform patrol position in a western state. I was sick of lots of things. The administration, which was starting hairy OPR investigations and eating their young over stupid crap, constantly being told I wasn't writing enough tickets, having a Major call down and ask everyone in the office why they couldn't have stopped "just a few more cars", the 2 co-workers who routinely broke policy, bragged about stuff (some actually illegal) that they had done, and never being punished, and a host of other things. (Yes, they were routinely turned in by everyone in the office, myself included)

            I sat down with my wife, and we talked at length about moving. We lived in a very desolate part of this state, and we were 180 miles from the closest WalMart. My wife is from LA originally, so you can do the math. She was never happy there, not even a little bit.

            We own a couple of businesses in Georgia, and her mother lives there. The LE agencies here pay about half as much as my former place, but that is ok because the cost of living is half as much.

            We weighed all the pros and cons. There were not many pros. Be honest with yourself. I now have the chance to extensively research any LE agency I want to work for. I am able to take a year off and be a full time father, decompress, and get back into fighting shape. It has been a most excellent experience so far. With 10 years of uniformed patrol experience and a Bachelor's (in May/09), my chances for getting hired are considerably better than the average applicant.

            I couldn't be happier with my decision. There are some things I miss about my last location, but they are not job related. I do miss a couple of my partners, but I will make new ones.

            Best of luck to you. I hope it works for you.
            Last edited by BigTrooper; 08-03-2008, 02:53 PM.
            Gimme a Diablo sammich and a Dr. Pepper, and make it snappy - I'm in a gotd**n hurry!

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            • #7
              Wow, thanks guys. Kinda like that thus far, I'm getting responses from people who were where I'm at, made a decision, and have had the time to reflect on their choices. Slightly sobering, but definitely useful for my decision making process.

              All the guys I've spoken to, even the supervisors on the down low, have said that, given my position on the matter, I should get out or go elsewhere. The issues I have with this particular place of employment will not change for the foreseeable future.

              At this point, I'm thinking I'm going to lateral out. Not sure where yet, but I'm putting in for it. I'll also put in for the few promising civilian jobs. Not sure I'll take them, but it can't hurt to have a few more options, right?

              BigTrooper:

              Certainly sounds like your old department has far more problems than mine. In fact, your new department seems a lot like my current one. I've only been here a year, yet I work maybe 6 months by the schedule and have accrued enough leave to take another month off to visit family (brother is graduating from the state police academy in September^^) Like I said, it's a fairly sweet gig, I'm just finding myself wondering more and more, is this all?

              We've already lost a couple of guys since I've been here. Guess they went through the same process I did and made a decision. I still keep in touch, make a monthly phone call just to say hi. Still, I figure lives move in different directions, so it's kinda expected no matter what.

              Thanks for the advice, BT.

              sross112:

              Well... funny issue, hunting. Traffic wise, it's really not fruitful. It's a small town type of environment. Further, it's a military installation; controlled population and access. The little stuff, vehicle reg, expired ID's and licenses, etc. are caught before they come onto my roads. Though we've caught three or four expired licenses and one wants/warrants on a passenger, we conduct... I dunno, a lot of traffic. Like 15 or so a day for our more active officers. Over the span of a year, well I'm not good at math, but the odds ain't good.

              Granted, there are people violating the law and should be pulled over, but I've spent literally months running traffic day and night, hundreds of stops, and I've only caught two guys with issues beyond the original PC for the stop. Given the number of stops, I doubt it's my luck... though I'm not the best at interviewing. Not sure what to say on that.

              I've gotten to the point where I'll just park and walk a beat to chat with the troops and whatnot. Never picked up any LE action from it, but it breaks up the monotony. Besides, why pull over the same guy for the third time this month, right? Get a little fresh air, work off the donut... eh. Try to last to shift change? No... no I don't really know what to do between calls.

              Now, there's another side to hunting. I've got a large installation to patrol, a lot of it is downrange. In fact, most of it is. I've got ARPA training and plenty of field experience to catch poachers and looters (there's a lot of both going on. Unreported and undiscovered, but it's there). Problem is, I'm hampered by departmental policy (in my department, installation, and within the department of the army). If I catch a guy doing something, I -have- to hand it over to someone else. I don't have the authorization to go out and serve a search warrant or execute a search off my jurisdiction unless it's a special condition, e.g. they're active duty military, national guard on orders, or are retirees (thanks JAG. Really, it helps so much).

              I realize it shouldn't, but it really kills my motivation knowing that, no matter how juicy the find, my involvement will likely stop at the initial officer level, no matter what kind of training or qualifications I have. We've got guys with 20+ years of experience, from patrol work and investigations to SRT and canines. None of them are permitted to do that kind of stuff.

              One of the guys that left had worked a lotta traffic for state patrol, including accidents with multiple fatalities, etc. and when he responded to his first accident for our agency he had three supervisors constantly kibbitzing him to make sure it was being done "right". Guess they weren't sure he could properly investigate a fender-bender.

              Sorry for the tangent. Regarding downrange patrolling, due to department policy, I can't get downrange. Haven't been able to without exigent circumstances (matter of life or limb) for months due to manpower issues. We require two guys in a patrol vehicle for safety issues, which I agree with. Unfortunately, due to training, leave, sick calls, etc, we have no more than 3 guys active on my squad at a time. Since we also work the desk (different issue...>.<) and must always have at least one patrol on the road, that leaves... one. Which is less than two. Which means no downrange for anyone.

              I know I'm whining, but really, it's easy to say "be proactive". Actually finding the motivation to do it when your work is constantly called into question by your superiors (from line to three levels up+) and your hands are tied is difficult. Gets harder every day, really.

              I accept that most LE work is boring most of the time. Everyone likes that 20 minutes of excitement, myself included. It's not that I haven't tried to be proactive, I really have tried quite a bit through multiple avenues, as have my coworkers. We've all failed. If you can think of something else I can do to mix things up, I'd love to hear it. In the very least it'd make my time more enjoyable while waiting to hear back from job opportunities.

              MPDCjock:

              Oh, don't get me wrong. I don't think I'm being burned out. I'm fairly certain that I'm evaluating this from a logical position based on what I want versus what the job is giving me. Really, life is good, no substantial complaints. I'm just looking for more action is all. It'd do well to spruce up the work life. But even then, work is alright. Decent prospects, training opportunities, some travel, etc. By no means is it a bad job. I just think it should be more.

              I'm still fairly young and, though retirement will be a concern, that's down the road after I find a place I wouldn't mind staying for awhile.

              I'm not out to change the world. At the moment I'm just doing the job the way they want it done.

              warrior1978:

              I really think I've found my purpose, my calling as it were. At least, as best as I'm sure I can find such a concept.

              I already knew going in that whatever job I got into, it had to have a mix of physical and mental. Deskwork is great, but I like to stretch my legs if you know what I mean. Get a little sticktime ^_~. On the other hand, nothing mindlessly repetitive like ditch-digging.

              I like danger and get off on the adrenaline rush. You know that feeling when the hairs on the back of your neck raise up? I savor that. Not trying to be an adrenaline junky, but I really do enjoy being in harm's way. I also really enjoy getting out of it, but that's another story.

              The day after I posted this, they needed someone to escort an ambulance 50ish miles to an accident site where 2 soldiers (One male, one female) were trapped in a flipped over humvee. I was off shift, hanging out in the station listening to the radio traffic, wishing I was there when the incident CDR requested I grab some keys and get the ambulance down to 'em. It was great, drove to the limit of my abilities and felt more alive than I had in months. Nearly lost the ambulance, was having too much fun hitting the apex on those little dirt roads.

              Lastly, I like helping people. Not like I'm going out of my way across the world to deliver medicine to people I don't know, but it's one of those things where, if I see someone who needs help and ain't no one is going to give it to them, I step in and do what I can. This has been true for me before I was an adult and continues to stand as a facet of my personality. I enjoy that. I found that the thanks and appreciation I get are actually embarrassing and I'd rather avoid it. Just the satisfaction of doing the right thing, making the world a little bit brighter for someone else with no promise or obligation of reward, you know?

              I think at this point I've learned pretty much everything I can at this place. That maybe it's time for me to move on.

              Shoe1226:

              I dunno. I mean, honestly, I don't like guns if that's an issue. Though it's far more complicated than that, as we both know.

              With the exception of one year, I've spent my entire adult life in uniform and have lived only for the mission. My friends and remaining brothers-in-arms are few and scattered across the world. My family is scattered as well, and hundreds to thousands of miles away from me. I've no children or significant other of my own. My only home has ever been my duty station, a rucksack, and wherever I happen to lay my head. Though I've only been in LE for a short time, maybe... maybe it's time for me to do something for me too? Though it's only conjecture, living to serve others will leave me a crazy old man who's best years are behind him. I don't think I want to be like that. But then again, maybe I'm already crazy. I find it hard to see any other way I would want to live.

              I'd definitely regret leaving this profession. It's is the closest to being on the tippity-tip of the spear as I can come due to injuries sustained in the line of duty. I love the work, it's the BS that gets between me and the work that I have issue with.

              Agreed, I'd probably resent the people who convinced me to quit. But it's my mom, so I'm sure I'd forgive her eventually. Without a doubt, there's no other field out there that'd give me the sense of satisfaction I get from this one. Money doesn't interest me. Knowing that I helped save lives or gave comfort to a dying man... these are things that no amount of money can confer. It's life and, though tragic at times, it's what I thirst for.

              The camaraderie issue is a trade off. Yes, I'd get less. Or maybe the same, if I'm fortunate. But I'd feel like more of my abilities are being used more of the time. I think it'd be worth it at this point.

              Other than that, not much to comment on from me. Good points you brought up though, I spent awhile thinking about it.
              Last edited by Paladin Sponge; 08-06-2008, 12:59 AM. Reason: minor typos, word choice, syntax, and re-structuring

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              • #8
                Another thought to consider is growth. I worked in areas that were open fields and cow pastures which became thriving metropolitan areas within ten years. Granted, that was in California, but had I been there permanently, I'd have had the benefit of being a part of their growth and knowing them from the inside out.
                http://www.badgeoflife.com/

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                • #9
                  Well, that is some food for thought. Kinda to validate that, my dad grew up with a guy in Sunnyvale, CA. He became a police officer there and ended up retiring as a chief with wealth and distinction. Another one got rich off real-estate, another from business, etc. In other words, yes, if you're in an area that's on the upswing, the benefits will filter down. And seeing things as they change provide a depth of knowledge that moving into an area will have great difficulty matching.

                  That said, though no one knows the future, I'd say this place is ripe for a downshift.

                  Still, it's another consideration to keep my eyes out for when picking the next place.

                  Comment

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