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The ups and downs of the thin blue line

This blog post is inspired by a PoliceSpecials.com entitled "why do people leave the Police?". I'm not a big fan of online forums, even though i have had the pleasure to found a couple of my own. Entering these environments have to be done so with the knowledge that everyone has a back story, and that back story is a big influence behind every forum post someone makes. So when you ask a question of this type you are going to get responses from, potentially, someone who has been dismissed, someone who has been disciplined, but also someone who has had a fulfilling career, someone who lives the job every day, or someone who is just taking their first steps into the police family.

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So i wanted to try and analyse this issue in a bit more detail, but as someone who has not left the police its not easy for me. What i have tried to do is analyse it by looking at the reasons why i joined the police, and the challenges i have faced in my 7 years of service.

I have wanted to be a Police Officer for as long as i can remember. There is a picture knocking around of me, aged in single figures, wearing an ill fitting tunic, custodian helmet, and holding aloft a set of chain link handcuffs and a chipped wooden baton. Bearing a very cheesy grin, i was convinced that being a police officer was all about standing around at church fate's chatting to bewildered children...maybe that's why i became a special? I'm being hilarious of course...

Age 18 i applied to be a regular police officer, and filled out the application form in my customary lackadaisical (word of the day toilet paper) manner. Obviously i didn't get in, but having been told i didn't take the application seriously enough i was told to try again, but apply for the specials to see if i really did want to be a police officer.

Having given myself a stern talking to i put a lot of thought into the question "Why do you want to be a police officer?" I rolled out the usual clichés; "I want to help my local community"..."I want to make a positive difference in peoples lives"...and "I want a job with lots of variety". This time i was successful, and very proud of having achieved one of my only life goals. They may be cliches, but i believed them wholeheartedly at the time.

One thing i have learned over the years is that it isn't until you get in the job till you can answer the question "Why do you want to be a police officer?". That may be because one doesn't really take those original reasons seriously until they have been tested under the pressure of operational duty.

Having done a couple of years as a special my expectations adjusted. I realised that my actions didn't always obviously equate to "helping my community", or "making a positive difference in peoples lives"...in fact sometimes you find your actions at odds with those values that propelled you into the job. There are times where the law, and the community expect us to act; when we know that that can have a negative consequence on all involved. Luckily the law is beginning to realise these 'catch 22' situations, and we are starting to be provided with a more versatile tool box containing methods such as Restorative Justice and Multi-Agency tactics. Opinions on some of these tools are for discussion on another day, however i've made my views on the latter clear in previous blog posts; i support them.

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I'm now 7 years in the job as a special, and my reasons for wanting to do the job change on a regular basis. There are times where dealing with the worst of society can really get you down. I have been in situations where i question why i want to be in the job at all. There are also times where you can see that you've made a difference...and i think most cops will tell you that its the latter occasions that remind them why they do it.


Returning to the original question, every persons reasons for leaving the job are different. As someone who is still in the job, i can tell you that the reason why i dont leave the job are down to pride. No matter how bad a shift i have, i am always proud to wear the uniform. The guys and girls i work with are an amazing bunch of people and make the job fun.

I may 'only' be a special, but policing is my vocation, and it gives me my identity. Having had a long period of fluctuating health i had pretty much written off a career in the regulars, but now that my health has stabilised (and omg i'm starting to get FAT) i'm beginning to reconsider my future...maybe i am cut out to do this full time after all?


By the way, did anyone see the unforgivable rank error in this weeks Hustle?