This is our fifth column by a veteran Southeast Michigan police officer who'll be identified after he retires in the next few years. He answers reader questions and provides perspective on police issues. Send law enforcement questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter (@AnonymousCopDD) and Facebook
By the Anonymous Cop
I love being a cop.
I’ve loved it since the day I started, and I’ll love it long after I walk out the station door for the last time.
With all that’s going on in our society, society’s current perceptions of law enforcement, and even what I wrote in my first few columns, you may wonder why I love this risky job.
Well, a few reasons.
On the simplest level, you don’t have to worry about what clothes to wear. Hell, you can go to work in your pajamas and then change right into your uniform in the locker room. I’ve seen that.
On a more serious note, the work is exciting or at least can be exciting. Sure, it can also be dangerous, but the vast majority of calls an officer responds to are actually pretty boring. Frequently they’re the same kinds of routine calls.
But calls are never the same. Every person is different and every call will be different. To me, different and unpredictable are exciting.
When you’re a cop, you never know what will happen after you start each shift. Car chase? Baby not breathing? Elderly citizen scammed out of money? Neighbors arguing over leaves in their yard? All these varied calls lead to a rewarding life.
Being a cop also gives you a sense of purpose that you don’t have to search very far for. What you do matters. Every day.
When I interview applicants, I always ask why they want to become a police officer. We weed out the few who want revenge for getting beat up on the playground, but those are fewer than you’d think. Most of them answer “to help people.”
That’s what I said when I was asked many years ago. It is an incredible feeling when you are the one to help someone in need. I remember all three of the lives I’ve saved as if it happened yesterday. I’ve read appreciative notes sent to officers from citizens who wanted to thank the cop who quieted their loud neighbor, calmed their mother when she was in a car accident, saved their overdosing daughter with NARCAN because the officer ran lights and siren to get there before EMS could.
That’s why we pick this career: to help those who can’t help themselves with problems big or small.
And then there are the coworkers. As a cop you get to work with heroes. The phrase gets thrown a lot, but until you get the privilege to work with good officers you really can’t appreciate the label.
It’s not the biggest or fastest officer who’s the hero. They can be, but it’s the everyday actions, day after day. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen officers open their wallets to provide for someone in need. I have seen officers pull together to re-roof a house for an elderly woman who was scammed and couldn’t afford it.
We have repaired plumbing and built ramps for people with new physical challenges. We have caught and convicted rapists, murderers and molesters -- giving their survivors some peace.
We’re not always giving chase, questioning someone or arresting another. I know of one officer who sat on the floor of a busy supermarket with an out-of-control autistic child. They talked about puppies. The child calmed down.
Then there’s the camaraderie. You work with people who depend on you, and you depend on them not just to get a project done and make some money like in other professions. My coworkers? They might literally save my ass one day. And I might do it for one of them.
It's a Band of Brothers and Sisters, co-workers with a sense of mission. From car accidents to shootings to puppies, I have the privilege to work with these people every day.
Interested? I can help with that. We’re in need of good people at a wide range of ages, in fact, some of our better officers have done something else before heading to the academy. Bring us your people skills, your communication talents, your appreciation for not having a routine set of tasks. We’ll teach you the rest.
It is a great profession and I have the deepest respect for anyone who wants to join the ranks.
If you’re interested or know someone who would be, send ‘em this column. And you can start with this state government link below for the minimum qualifications: How to Become a Law Enforcement Officer.