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Is Law Enforcement a career you would recommend to a younger person?


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  • Is Law Enforcement a career you would recommend to a younger person?

    I'm in high school and I've always been interested in becoming a police officer. I do live in Canada, but I'm sure your opinions and suggestions are no different down in the U.S.

    I understand there are a lot of day to day challenges you are faced with. I have no disillusions of this job. Sure, I like to watch CSI and Law and Order. I also realize they are very unrealistic, and the job tends to be glamorized on these shows. Anyways, I don't take the job lightly is what I'm saying.

    So would you guys (and girls) recommend this job? It takes a different type of person to do it, and I by no means say that in a harsh way. I really feel like I can excel at the job, but I'm really curious about what others have to say about it. My only real concern is the salary. And it is not so much wanting to be rich and wealthy, but being able to live comfortably. I live in a very large city of over 1 million people, so the cost of living is very high. I could always get that 'sn***y' degree and work behind a desk for the rest of my life, but I'm not interested in that.

    Does this job have the potential to be financially rewarding? I understand that there is OT involved, but your body can only take so many hours a week. And let me clarify; when I say financially rewarding, I don't mean being able to afford expensive cars and huge houses. I just mean, are you able to take a nice vacation once a year? That sort of thing. I've never been a materialistic person, so I don't need the huge T.V. or fancy gadgets. I would never ask or expect anyone on here to divulge there personal financial state, but I just want to get a general idea of that aspect.

    And I apologize if something like this has been brought up. I did search a few things up in the search bar before I made this post, but came up empty handed. I probably could have sat on google for a couple hours reading information, but I have enormous respect for this site and the people on it, so I thought I could most benefit by asking my question on here.

    Anyways, I didn't plan on writing a short story. I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I'm grateful for any answers I get. I've seen too many times where people have asked questions on here, and then believe they can dictate the type of responses they get. I assure you I won't be like that. Have a great day/evening, and stay safe out there. Thank you.

  • #2
    If your looking at LE because you want to make bank and avoid getting a degree DON"T BOTHER. We already have enough applicants with those desires. The vast majority of us got into LE because of the desire to help, and to have a steady job that is different every day of the week.

    Ask yourself this, if you are responding to a call and you feel overworked and underpaid; how much effort are you going to put into it? This job is doing whatever it takes for compensation that is low compared to the other jobs.


    • #3
      Thanks for the answer Mikey. I should have been more clear when I mentioned " 'sn***y' degree". If I were to pursue law enforcement as a career, I would get a 4 year degree. I just meant, I believe I'm probably capable of something like engineering for example, but I have no interest in a 9-5 job sitting behind a desk all day. When it really comes down to it, money will not influence my decision. I think we can both agree that LEO's are underpaid, whether you're talking about the U.S. or Canada. Regardless, I probably shouldn't have brought the money part up. My mistake.


      • #4
        Your obvious first "mission" is to graduate from high school. I'm retired after a thirty eight year career in Law Enforcement. I live in a modest house and drive a fairly modest car. Law Enforcement took care of my needs and some of my wants. Certainly, adequate compensation is a major consideration, but if you're looking only for the money, find another profession. The decision to pursue a career in Law Enforcement is yours to make. Should you succeed in joining our ranks, you'll receive rewards which go far beyond any compensation you may receive. There are other professions which can make that claim, but they are few and far between. Keep in mind that in considering Law Enforcement, you don't choose us. We choose you.


        • #5
          After putting in 30+ years, I have no regrets. I've lived a very comfortable life financially (my wife has worked) and the job has been rewarding. I will retire in a couple of years, move from this overpriced NYC area, and be a greeter at your local Walmart to keep myself busy. Either that or I'll join NASA as an astronaut - I haven't decided.
          I’ll die with blue in my veins.


          • #6
            I would recommend this to someone, but caution that it is not for everyone. It is not a job; it is a live altering event. You lose friends you have had for years, but will make bonds that will last forever. You will be hated because of what you do, not by a few but by many. Every decision you make will be second guessed by someone who is not happy with the outcome. It will take its toll on your family. You will miss much of family events that so many take for granted. But yet at the end of the day, you will feel a reward like no other, a feeling that cannot be described in words.
            It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.


            • #7
              Originally posted by PhilipCal View Post
              ........{sniped for space}.....
              Originally posted by GoldBadge View Post
              .......{sniped for space}.......

              Like my colleagues above, I “managed” to make the best of my 35+ yr career in Law Enforcement.

              The pay, while not fantastic, was above the average in my state. I was able to buy an acreage, several cars over the years, feed the rug rats while they grew up, keep my wife in craft supplies, the dogs in dog food, and put away some for my retirement.

              The profession will guarantee you will probably miss a lot of family gatherings, holidays, birthdays and many of your children’s activities.

              You will be under-appreciated by many, appreciated by few, & loved by your family and co-workers.

              You will get frustrated by your job description, with the boss (and you will have many of them of varying qualities over the years), with the people you protect & the prosecutors who never think you did a good enough job.

              You very possibly will be assaulted, shot at(and hit), spit on , denigrated by the citizens, yelled at , cursed, and shunned by some of your “friends”.

              In most places in the US the retirement plan makes the job “pay out” better in retirement than during the years you are working. Pension plans are usually quite nice thankyouverymuch!

              The pension allows you to retire at a younger age since the job is pretty hard on your body and soul after so many years of the above ……………….

              I guess I answered your basic question………….yes I would recommend the profession as a career. But remember it isn’t all rosy.

              The profession is a brotherhood. It doesn’t matter if you are a small town officer in a 2 person department or a small cog in a 36,000 person department-------------you are a brother/sister to all of us..

              I leave you with a scene from approximately 60 miles from my home…………….Saturday 4-9-11
              Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

              My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS


              • #8
                I'll let Jack Webb tell you like it is because nobody says it like Jack:

                Originally posted by kontemplerande
                Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.


                • #9
                  This job is not for everyone. You can always try and get hired and see if it is for you. If it is not for you don't be afraid to hang up the gunbelt. There is no shame in that. I have known a couple guys who got hired and made it to retirement. They hated the job and were bitter til the end. I can not fathom how they made it that far. I love this job and have no regrets but there are times when you feel emotionally drained. There are also times when I have a blast and have to force myself to go home. You will see some crazy things and make some outstanding friends for life. We bust each others chops relentlessly but at the same time we deeply care for our fellow leo's. You will be zhit on a lot as well. There are people who will hate you with a passion simply because you wear a uniform and there are people who will think you are a rock for doing this job. There are also people who are deeply appreciative of the work you do.
                  I have had a fantastic career thus far and have been involved in a wide variety of police work. Things I never dreamed I would be involved in, but, to me the most satisfying calls is helping families with their kids.
                  Not too long ago I caught a call on a runaway juvenile. The mom was completely and thoroughly frantic. The dad was very upset but was trying to keep it together for the families sake. I was amazed because they had tried everything they could think of to find their son before they called us. When I questioned them about friends and locations they told me they already checked on that. In my experience that does not happen. They were to be applauded. The mom continued to lose her mind. I got all the information that I needed and before I left their house I told them I would find their child and return him before I go home at the end of the shift. I went outside to brief my sergeant on the call. I told him what I told the parents and he gave me the oh crap look. I told him I knew that was a gutsy promise but at the same time I intended to carry it out. The pressure was on.

                  I found the kid and returned him to the parents before I went home. There was a lot of sincere praying to God for his help in finding the child. When I returned him home the parents were ecstatic. They were so doggone happy I thought they would burst. This is one of the calls that required me to fight the tears. This was a decent family and they were very thankful. To me these calls, with the good endings, make all the heart ache worth while.

                  Depending on your agency the pay really isn't that bad either. We are not hurting. We are saving and at the same time I am able to do a lot of really fun things with my son. I do have to say that I have a part time job to fund my baseball addiction. Myself, son and wife attend A LOT of baseball games. It is all about time management. I am not going to just work to provide and not spend quality time with my son. It really boils down to time management. When my boy is in school I put in the part time work. When he is out of school I will put it in but I always make sure it doesn't affect my time with my son. A lot of it has to do with not turning on the television. It is amazing how much time you can find to do things when not plopped on the couch.

                  It is a great career but it is a demanding career. It is not for everyone. Just because it is not for someone does not mean that person is weak. It is what it is. I have no regrets.
                  Prov 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.


                  • #10
                    I wouldn't do it again with the current climate regarding law enforcement, pensions, cost cutting, etc. Especially if you put the time in for a Criminal Justice degree. Nine out of ten cops will tell you to not waste your time and money on a LE degree. If you want to be a policeman because you THINK you know what the job is all about, forget it and do something else unless you have an immediate family member who is a police officer and is giving you the real information. Municipal law enforcement is primarily a SERVICE job. Which means the vast majority of your job, in an average department, will be spent doing things that other people should be doing. The police are rapidly becoming the branch of the government than happens to be on call 24/7 to conduct the business of the nanny state. In other words, to take care of people who can't take care of themselves and who would die in less than 24 hours if left alone in the woods by themselves.

                    Very little of your time in patrol will be spent doing the things that cops on TV do. If you want to do "real" police work, the stuff that your heroes are doing on TV, don't even THINK of joining a police department of less than 1000 members. There are more opportunities for diverse assignments on large departments. And don't go with a department with a base pay of under $75,000.00 for a patrolman. I'd check out the west coast or someplace like Nassau County, NY.

                    Better yet, get a federal job, don't get married too young, don't have kids too young (you'll just end up getting divorced....too young...) and consider a federal job, the military (you can buy your military time to apply to your seniority at many departments) or law school.

                    It's been a good career for me but I wouldn't do it the same way again.


                    • #11
                      There is plenty of suck.

                      The pay sucks, the hours suck, the public sucks, having your gear on all the time sucks...

                      Then there are moments.

                      Someone thanking you because you found their child (as mentioned...)

                      Standing outside in the middle of the night while a heavy snow falls, a strangely "Last Man on earth" feeling.

                      The adrenaline dump when you can hear the worry in the Dispatchers voice while you get assigned a call.

                      Those moments make all the asspain worth it.

                      “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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