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  • The stages of an officer's career

    Early in my career I was in a squad with an patrolman who although 4 years younger had 4 more years on the job than me. And since we were both Irish-Americans originally from North Jersey/New York we became close friends. He was on the list for Sgt. and was the kind of guy who would study every aspect of his chosen career. He had read a study once and told me that we all went through stages in our career. It went something like this:

    Stage One...Academy>3 yrs. otj......The rookie...Still in love with the job.

    Stage Two...3>8 .....the Ptlm. still building his/her career and family...the guy who can be counted on to show up.

    Stage Three....8>15......middle Ptlm....morale can drop and burnout can occur because they finally realize that life isn't fair...and they not going to save the world or be Chief of Police by age 35.

    Stage Four....15>20.....Senior Ptlm.....Hours for dollars.

    Stage five......20>25....old guys.....if they're still otj then they mostly have made peace with the world....

    My friend and partner broke free from this cycle in year 9 but now that I finally reached year 21 myself I understand what he meant.


    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    Stages of an Officer's Career

    Originally posted by jerseyshorecop View Post
    Early in my career I was in a squad with an patrolman who although 4 years younger had 4 more years on the job than me. And since we were both Irish-Americans originally from North Jersey/New York we became close friends. He was on the list for Sgt. and was the kind of guy who would study every aspect of his chosen career. He had read a study once and told me that we all went through stages in our career. It went something like this:

    Stage One...Academy>3 yrs. otj......The rookie...Still in love with the job.

    Stage Two...3>8 .....the Ptlm. still building his/her career and family...the guy who can be counted on to show up.

    Stage Three....8>15......middle Ptlm....morale can drop and burnout can occur because they finally realize that life isn't fair...and they not going to save the world or be Chief of Police by age 35.

    Stage Four....15>20.....Senior Ptlm.....Hours for dollars.

    Stage five......20>25....old guys.....if they're still otj then they mostly have made peace with the world....

    My friend and partner broke free from this cycle in year 9 but now that I finally reached year 21 myself I understand what he meant.


    Any thoughts?
    There is a whole lot of truth in your post. Sure, you can put some fine points on it, but it pretty well nails the phases we go through in a police career. Let me throw something at you that President Ronald Reagan said, regarding the Marine Corps. "Many people go through life, wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem". Substitute Cops for Marines, and you have an equally true statement. I've been retired for 17 months now. I can look back on 38 years with a whole lot of satisfaction.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well. I'm in the 8-15 range now and I know it's becoming a fight within myself to remember the good parts. i'm tired. I'm tired of watching what people will do to each other. I'm tired of good not always winning over evil. I'm tired of missing some important family moments that I'll never get back. And since the shine of rookie has wanned, I'm tired of watching less than steller command staff make crappy ***ed decisions that impact the rest of us. In addition, I'm frustrated with having to follow the direction of SOME superior officers that couldn't find their rear end with both hands and a map.

      However. I still get that feeling when I put a set of handcuff on a criminal. I still get the adrenaline dump and thrill from the chase, the capture, and/or the fight. I still think that "we" as LEO are the frontline defense that allows the citizens to sleep at night w/o knowing what evil is really around them. So. I keep doing it.
      sigpic

      I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

      Comment


      • #4
        Stages

        Originally posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
        Well. I'm in the 8-15 range now and I know it's becoming a fight within myself to remember the good parts. i'm tired. I'm tired of watching what people will do to each other. I'm tired of good not always winning over evil. I'm tired of missing some important family moments that I'll never get back. And since the shine of rookie has wanned, I'm tired of watching less than steller command staff make crappy ***ed decisions that impact the rest of us. In addition, I'm frustrated with having to follow the direction of SOME superior officers that couldn't find their rear end with both hands and a map.

        However. I still get that feeling when I put a set of handcuff on a criminal. I still get the adrenaline dump and thrill from the chase, the capture, and/or the fight. I still think that "we" as LEO are the frontline defense that allows the citizens to sleep at night w/o knowing what evil is really around them. So. I keep doing it.
        Hang in there Smurf, everything you said is true, and then some. You'll be okay. Watch your six and stay safe!!

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm at stage 3 now. Sounds eerily true, looking at my coworkers. But in their defense, most jobs no matter the level of love first exhibited on the date of hire will wear on you after a while. Stay safe...
          Last edited by LeanG; 06-02-2007, 11:13 AM.

          A man should never be ashamed to own that he has been in the wrong, which is but saying... that he is wiser today than yesterday. Jonathan Swift 1667-1745

          It's only a conspiracy when your party is not in power.

          Comment


          • #6
            Sadly, the career stages seem pretty much true. After 30 (total) years in Patrol I retired and don't really miss it alot. What I did realize before retirement was that the very same burned out, used up or whatever cops were actually the most honest,needed, realistic and practical officers out there. Unfortunately like many places management sees them as dead weight as opposed to an asset---pity. I wonder how the public would feel if they REALLY knew the physical & mental abuse officers take to insure their safety.

            Comment


            • #7
              I agree with the above posts.I guess that I am lucky in that even though I may be a little "long in the tooth" by LE standards ,I had a break in the middle of my career of a few years ,and came back refreshed and ready to "play the game."
              Sleeping Giant. They're not fat and happy anymore. They are hungry and increasingly angry. That is not a good recipe for a "Puppies and Rainbows America".

              Comment


              • #8
                Although I'd agree with most of the posters regarding "burnout", I believe a lot of this can be avoided by making changes within one's career. Some of the best officers I've known were life long patrol people and although they really knew their stuff, they worked one detail way too long and got bored. It seems like a change of detail (patrol-special enforcement-detectives-supervisor-etc...) really helps keep one's interest up, by exposing them to new responsibilities and challenges. I've been doing this more than thirty years and if it had all been in patrol as an officer, I'd be going nuts too. After five or six years, try for a special enforcement type detail, detectives, or even backgrounds. With 10-12 years experience, working a "specialized" investigative assignment (homicide) should be within one's reach or the officer should be looking at trying to promote to supervisory rank. Five or ten years from that should also be a point when making a move to management or a specialized, supervisory position can enable an officer to try a new aspect to this profession. My personal observation only is that if officers stay in one place too long, they (like a frog in a frying pan) get burned!
                "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                Comment


                • #9
                  I believe that this is what your looking for, and it was posted before. yep I copied and pasted...but here ya go..

                  If you are a cop, were a cop, live with a cop, or are close to a cop you will recognize a lot of the following:
                  >
                  >
                  > FASCINATION STAGE - 1st thru 4th year of Law Enforcement.
                  >
                  > For most officers, this is their first time outside of the middle class bubble. They have never seen a dead body, never seen life-threatening injuries, never dealt with a family disturbance, never witnessed the squaller some people call "living life", and never really understood the phrase "Man's Inhumanity To Man" until now. Everything is new to them. You can ID them by the amount of fancy new equipment they carry...a ten BILLION candlelight power flashlight, "state-of-the-art" holster, pens that write in the rain, a ballistic vest rated to stop Tomahawk missiles, and an equipment bag large enough to house a squad of Marines. They love it, showing up early for their shift. They work way past the end of their shift without even considering an OT slip. They believe rank within the department is based only on ability and those in the upper ranks got there by knowledge and skill in police work only. They believe the Department runs with the same attention to detail and efficiency as Joe Friday's Dragnet TV show....everyone is dedicated & committed, everyone is competent, everyone is on the same page and working towards the same high-minded goals. When they finally go home to their spouse/ significant other, they tell them everything they did and saw; they are wired up. Some of the more "eaten up" purchase a police scanner at Radio Shack so they can hear the radio calls while at home.
                  >
                  > HOSTILITY STAGE - 4th thru 6th year
                  >
                  > They now show up for work about 2 minutes before their shift, and they are hiding out about 30 minutes before end of shift, writing reports so they can just throw them in the sergeant's in-box and leave ASAP. They have to get to their second job to earn money to pay for the divorce that is pending. Their spouse is no longer interested in hearing about all the gore and heartache. They get the "you spend more time with the cops than you do with me" speech. They now know how the lieutenant got those silver bars on his collar. They consider the FOP, the city, and all brass to be as dangerous as any viper. They gripe about everything, drink excessively, chase women, and hate the public, politicians, media, etc. They feel they have more in common with the hookers, thieves, dopers, etc.. but hate them too. Those pens that write in the rain are no longer needed. Writing traffic citations can be a lot more trouble than they are worth, even on a nice day To write one, or to write anything while standing in the rain, is a sure sign of an insane person.
                  >
                  > SUPERIORITY STAGE - 7th thru 15th years
                  >
                  > This is when cops are at their best. They have survived changes in administration. They know how the political game is played, both inside and outside of the department. They know who they can trust and who they can't. They have select friends within the department, and stay away, as best they can, from the nuts and boot-lickers. They know the legal system, the judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, etc. They know how to testify and put a good case together. They are usually the ones that the brass turn to when there is some clandestine request or sensitive operation that needs to be done right. These cops are still physically fit and can handle themselves on the street. They will stay around the station when needed, but have other commitments; such as a second/third job, a second/third spouse, a second boyfriend/girlfriend (sometimes both), etc. They have most of their friends are Law Enforcement now.
                  >
                  > ACCEPTANCE STAGE - 15th to ????
                  >
                  > Now the cops have a single objective... retirement and pension Nothing is going to come between them and their monthly check The boss, the city (or State, or county), the idiots around the station, and the creeps on the street can all go to hell... because they could come between them and "sitting on the beach". There is no topic of discussion that can't somehow lead back to retirement issues. These guys are usually sergeants, detectives, crime scene technicians, station duty, or some other post where they will not be endangered, but being cops they still get stupid at times, and put their butts on the line. They especially don't want some young stupid cop getting them sued, fired, killed, or anything else causing them to lose their "beach time". These guys are always there if needed. They spend a lot of time having coffee, hanging around the station, and looking at brochures of things they want to do in retirement.

                  Retirement Stage

                  Then the retired cop usually dies within the first five years of retirement, because he/she misses the job - saving the city (or State, or county) a bunch of money. Go figure............its a great career, stay with it!!

                  Of course, nothing is ever 100% true...but if you are a cop, were a cop, know a cop...you will certainly recognize some of the above statements as fact, either in your own career or someone else's.
                  ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
                  Oscar Wilde

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jerseyshorecop View Post
                    Early in my career I was in a squad with an patrolman who although 4 years younger had 4 more years on the job than me. And since we were both Irish-Americans originally from North Jersey/New York we became close friends. He was on the list for Sgt. and was the kind of guy who would study every aspect of his chosen career. He had read a study once and told me that we all went through stages in our career. It went something like this:

                    Stage One...Academy>3 yrs. otj......The rookie...Still in love with the job.

                    Stage Two...3>8 .....the Ptlm. still building his/her career and family...the guy who can be counted on to show up.

                    Stage Three....8>15......middle Ptlm....morale can drop and burnout can occur because they finally realize that life isn't fair...and they not going to save the world or be Chief of Police by age 35.

                    Stage Four....15>20.....Senior Ptlm.....Hours for dollars.

                    Stage five......20>25....old guys.....if they're still otj then they mostly have made peace with the world....

                    My friend and partner broke free from this cycle in year 9 but now that I finally reached year 21 myself I understand what he meant.


                    Any thoughts?
                    I looked at this thread to see what would be said about the early years. I'm still a "rookie" by your definition. I hate that term. Here it is derogatory. Regardless, I just wanted to see if it said that "rookies" were always looking for people to arrest, beat up, write tickets,etc. as I'm often offended by those statements. I guess I'm more passive than most officers in that I look at the big picture more than a lot of other newer ones I work with. Oh well, glad I didn't see any of that negative stuff.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      [QUOTE=texaschickeee;890616]I believe that this is what your looking for, and it was posted before. yep I copied and pasted...but here ya go..

                      If you are a cop, were a cop, live with a cop, or are close to a cop you will recognize a lot of the following:
                      >
                      >
                      > FASCINATION STAGE - 1st thru 4th year of Law Enforcement.
                      >
                      > For most officers, this is their first time outside of the middle class bubble. They have never seen a dead body, never seen life-threatening injuries, never dealt with a family disturbance, never witnessed the squaller some people call "living life", and never really understood the phrase "Man's Inhumanity To Man" until now. Everything is new to them. You can ID them by the amount of fancy new equipment they carry...a ten BILLION candlelight power flashlight, "state-of-the-art" holster, pens that write in the rain, a ballistic vest rated to stop Tomahawk missiles, and an equipment bag large enough to house a squad of Marines. They love it, showing up early for their shift. They work way past the end of their shift without even considering an OT slip. They believe rank within the department is based only on ability and those in the upper ranks got there by knowledge and skill in police work only. They believe the Department runs with the same attention to detail and efficiency as Joe Friday's Dragnet TV show....everyone is dedicated & committed, everyone is competent, everyone is on the same page and working towards the same high-minded goals. When they finally go home to their spouse/ significant other, they tell them everything they did and saw; they are wired up. Some of the more "eaten up" purchase a police scanner at Radio Shack so they can hear the radio calls while at home.
                      >

                      Wait. I found one. Nevermind the preivous post of mine. Let me analyze this one and relate it to me as I find myself to be the oddball in police work.

                      As far as the negative features of life that one first sees as a cop I shall say that when I was a school teacher I took the notion of becoming a paramedic as a good side job. It was enjoyable and required little physical work. It introduced me to dead bodies, life threatening injuries, family violence, squalid living, etc. It never really impacted me. I knew it was out there. It just kind of rolled off my back and still does, but I like my cop job.

                      I try to carry a minimal amount of equipment. I really can't think of another way to carry cop tools without a duty belt, but I wish I could, and I'd love to trust people enough so that I didn't have to wear bodyarmor. Frankly, I'd rather just carry my pistol and taser and leave the rest in the car. I know I might need it, but it's just wishful thinking. I really don't like carrying that stuff, but I like my cop job. oh, also, press your uniforms, polish your brass, and don't wear BDUs a lot. we're cops not commandos.

                      I don't try to be early for work. I show up on time. I'm not getting paid for more so I don't come early and I don't stay late. I'm not expected to. I've never done that with either career. I do well with what I am supposed to do. I don't feel a need to stretch it over more hours. I was often ridiculed by other teachers when I wouldn't show up at 6:30 am to make lesson plans. I never felt the need. I'm quick to ask for comp time rather than overtime as it's more lucrative for me personally, but I like my cop job.

                      I think rank within any agency, anywhere comes mostly from "office politics." I know well that not everyone is committed, not everyone cares, and most certainly not everone is competent (this is most obvious). Jack Webb was a detail oriented man who tried to make Dragnet as realistic as possible, but he made Joe Friday seem impersonal. Cops are real people and they do real things. They have real lives, and they're going to take care of their life first and foremost as I do, but I like my cop job.

                      I try not to tell anyone about what I do at work as I don't feel others need to be exposed to it. If they ask about something specific they may have heard about then I'll tell them, but I usually water it down a bit even if it's not a heinous crime or something that was originally "exciting." Some people get a kick out of hearing it so I will tell them to content them, but I'd rather not. However, I like my cop job.

                      As far as the scanner goes, I've been an EMT/paramedic for six years, and I've been on a well endowed volunteer fire department of sorts for five years. I have three portable radios. Two of them will scan. Somewhere tucked away in a closet is a scanner I got when I was 12. I also have a mobile radio for my Dodge truck. It scans. Ironcially, I don't really listen in on the police agency I work for right now, and I never really have. When I was younger I listened more actively, but now if any of them are on most of what goes said enters one ear, floats around for a split second, and goes out the other ear. One of the portables is the fire dept's issue, another is the police dept's issue, another is mine that I bought when I was working for the sheriff's office (good tax deduction), and the mobile is mine that I bought only last week (another good tax deduc). Lots of other people I know had them, paid a lot of money for them, and I happened to find a new one on ebay for half what they paid so I bought it mostly to dangle over them which I got a laugh out of and they grimmaced over. It was more for amusement than anything. All four radios have the same frequencies mostly. Around here there's a big first responder culture so lots of cops, firemen, EMTs, etc. have radios (even ones who don't do extracurricular emergency work) so as a whole it isn't that flakey although if the culture weren't present then I'd say it would be.

                      Now let's see...I'm a newer cop. I like my cop job, but I'm fairly passive. If I don't think making an arrest or writing a ticket will help the situation then I don't do it. As far as traffic goes, generally I only write excessively high speeders, people without liablity insurance, people without child safety seats, and people who don't have driver's licenses because I feel these offenses are more burdensome to the innocent people on the road. I don't use "police power" to get even with people who make me mad, and I don't get a rush out of arresting people. I find that some people do get that, and honestly it concerns me for them. I don't like to hurt people, but I find some cops do. At one time, I thought I had been talked into getting jollies out of doing the same. Fortunately, that has passed, but I like my cop job.

                      In essense, I try to be logical, moral, ethical, and prudent in all that I do. They say that "justice" should be blind, but I honestly don't understand how one can do justice without compassion.
                      Last edited by ArkansasFan24; 06-03-2007, 05:44 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Neat little boxes

                        I try not place people in neat little boxes and resent it when others do the same to me. Although I recognize some of myself in the attributes described as the "Superiority Stage" with about 30 years on the job, I've seen people burned out with only three or four years and many of the same in the last 15-20 years of service. Although some officers don't live to enjoy their retirement, there are those who've gone on to enjoy many, many years. A positive attitude, a willingness to try new things and flexibility seem to be the keys.
                        "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have been retired for 13 years. I had already trained myself long before retirement to be able to do something job wise after retirement. Folks should not wait until the last moment to ready themselves for the transition from active duty to retirement. I have been doing child support enforcement since retiring. I work 8=4:30 daily, off weekends and holidays. No stress at all and it fills in the time Monday -Friday. I play lots of golf, travel and other enjoyable things. My world is good and not as nearly structured as when I was a trooper. I left my job and never looked back, it was a good ride while it lasted but I realized there was another world out there

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'm at about Stage 4-1/2. It's a great job, and I like it, but at the same time, it's just a job. The sooner guys can accept that, and get past thinking that they have to show up an hour early and stay late chasing down a gram of dope (that will still be there tomorrow) instead of being home with their families where they should be, the happier they will be. Have a life - you are supposed to only be a cop 40 hours a week. Don't waste that precious time you could have with your wife, kids, friends or at the lake with a rod and reel by running around being Johnny Redhot the Super Cop. When you go off duty, there is a whole shift of fresh, ready coppers to hit the street and pick up where your shift left off. Don't burn out. Been there, done that, got the ugly t-shirt, don't want to see anyone else go through it if it can be avoided. I am pretty much at peace with the job now and am not going to ruin my personal life just for an adrenaline rush.
                            Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                            I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ateamer View Post
                              I'm at about Stage 4-1/2. It's a great job, and I like it, but at the same time, it's just a job. The sooner guys can accept that, and get past thinking that they have to show up an hour early and stay late chasing down a gram of dope (that will still be there tomorrow) instead of being home with their families where they should be, the happier they will be. Have a life - you are supposed to only be a cop 40 hours a week. Don't waste that precious time you could have with your wife, kids, friends or at the lake with a rod and reel by running around being Johnny Redhot the Super Cop. When you go off duty, there is a whole shift of fresh, ready coppers to hit the street and pick up where your shift left off. Don't burn out. Been there, done that, got the ugly t-shirt, don't want to see anyone else go through it if it can be avoided. I am pretty much at peace with the job now and am not going to ruin my personal life just for an adrenaline rush.

                              I'm like you, and I'm only in stage one. My ultimate goal in any career, back when I was teaching and now as a policeman, is to retire. Granted, I want to move up the ranks in any organization since I'm career minded in that respect, but I want only to retire early and enjoy life.

                              I do not show up early, and I have no intentions of doing so unnecessarily. I'm not a dope oriented cop. Yes, I hate drugs, and I'd like them off the street. However, I will not neglect other standard police tasks to "get dope." My favorite area of police work is the mind game. Second to that is preventive patrol. I think I'm sort of old fashioned at the age of 25.

                              Like you say, it is just a job, and I don't want extra assignments or off-duty work. I want to put in my 40 hours and go home despite the fact that I like what I do.

                              Sadly, I don't get adrenaline rushes. I don't as a cop. I didn't as a paramedic, and I haven't as a volunteer fireman over the years. They can all be exciting, but in the end I just think "big deal it's what the job entails."

                              I often wonder if I'm not cut out for policework as I don't share nearly any of the traits that other new officers have, yet I find (and am told) that I do my job well. I feel like I'm a good cop for my level of experience and maybe a little more, but I'm just a cop and not what I call a "street commando" such as the gung ho type of cop that was described in stage one of law enforcement. I'm not interested in SWAT, I'm not all about getting drugs off the street (someone should be though), and I'm not all about getting into shootouts, fights, making arrest, writing tickets, etc. I do my job the best I can in all arenas of the job, but the "omg, let's pull them over, strip their car to check for drugs, harass them, and make an arrest on the most trivial of offenses while we wear leg holsters and other tactical sh-t" type of police work does not appeal to me.

                              Lately, I find the need to keep saying this as I am concerned about the direction some of my colleagues are taking themselves. Any thoughts?

                              Comment

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