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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
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Recognize Your Real Friends

Don't be surprised if your social calendar changes after the academy.

October 25, 2007  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

I am so thankful for my readers; they are my inspiration. The other day a young officer emailed me with a problem. He had come upon some old college chums and they became "stand-offish" after they discovered he was a cop. The young lad told me that he had heard of this in the academy but could not believe it was happening to him.

Truth is stranger than fiction and to some "friends" who may have liked you back in the day, you now represent something to them that they do not like. It is the job, the vocation, the profession—not you.

Buddies, Pals, and Coppers

Without getting into the psychology of friendship and this sort of rot, let me be very candid with you. Some people like you for what you are and others don't. It is that simple.

I have seen this happen like the changing of the seasons. A young man or woman graduates the academy and invites some old buddies to the graduation. One of them, although he shows up, feels out of place, for he hates cops—you can read it on his face. He attends and that is it. He doesn't wish to have an introduction or pose for photos. He just wants out of the situation. And he doesn't want to hang out with you any longer, for you are now the law.

Don't believe me yet? Wait until you hear the jokes about donuts, abuse of rights, and the "killed anyone today?" comments. People like this will distance themselves from you like a bad habit. Good riddance, I say. For if they feel this way they are only going to drag you down and they are missing out on something: you.

The military, firefighters, and coppers all have their own but deep kinship. I recall and have a deep place in my heart for my U.S. Army Military Police buddies—Hooah! I recall with fondness my police academy classmates and my pals from my formative patrol days. My old police pals some have gone to a better place and others like me are still kicking. But, we all know that we had and still have each other's back, not turning our back like some of the friends of my young reader. Your new friends will have a bond with you that the college ones never had. I was an only child but I have so many "brothers and sisters of a different womb"; they are my cop kin.

New Social Order

Don't take these words to mean you should only associate with other officers. I have always said that you should have non-police friends and acquaintances; this is just a healthy balance.

Attend other functions that are not police related to get away from it all. Let's face it, you cannot live in a police-only world. Again, some friends and acquaintances at non-police social functions will test you. For example, some may get a ticket and want a favor or advice. But if they do not compromise or use you, then enjoy their company. It will be good for you to get away from the job.

It is not the years but the mileage. I knew several officers who never took the uniform off, and it's not a way to live. Doing some non-cop things will help you decompress and keep stress levels livable. You cannot forget where you came from or who you are, but you have to also follow a noble calling now. And by the way, it is worth every second of it.

Train with your friends; you have each other's back.

Tags: Off-Duty Life


Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

David Moore S-55 @ 11/1/2007 7:06 PM

"Excellent article-Lesson." I wanted to share one a friend sent me during this same type of soul searching it's called (APACHE SEASONS) it did not have author information, called;
APACHE SEASONS:
There was an Apache man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment. The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree's life. He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are fulfilled. If you give up when it's winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment of your fall. Moral of the Lesson: Don't let the pain of one season destroy the joy of the rest. Don't judge life by one difficult season. Persevere through the difficult patches knowing that better times are sure to come some time.
Keep up the great wisdom!
V/r
Dave Moore

brian key @ 11/2/2007 1:12 PM

Excellent article!! I had good friends all through high school that I thought were going to be my friends for life. Well, as you pointed out this doesn't always happen. When I became a cop these guys were cold to me all of the sudden. I didn't let it bother me because I have always been the type of person to not care if you like me or not. I've been that way since childhood. I just keep in mind that I have answered a higher calling. One of my cadre during the academy said police are the modern day Nights Templar. (He is a Mason in case you didn't pick up on that.) I believe we are the thin blue line between the good and the bad. The friendships I have now with my brothers and sisters of the badge are far better than any I have ever had. We depend on one another to make sure we all go home at the end of the night. This brotherhood is only found in military, fire fighters, and police. No other job are you faced with potentially deadly situations on a daily basis. Most people I firmly believe appreciate and respect the police, and what we do. If this wasn't true we wouldn't exist. But for the few that dislike us, and most of the time they really have no clue why, we can't let it bother us. Stand together as one, and enjoy the true brotherhood (and sisterhood) that we have.

BlueLineWalker @ 11/3/2007 7:44 AM

Great topic! I grew up in a very emotionally
abusive atmosphere. I was repeatedly told that
I was a mistake and a burdon. So, my
yearning for acceptance and self-worth
lives on in me to this day. It is through my
involvement with firefighting, and more recently
law enforcement, that I feel so content and
positive. Many of my adult friends have
turned away from me with their puzzled looks
asking me "what are you doing in law enforcement?".
Well, I don't explain my actions to them, nor do I
have to. I have who I need around me, and many
of them are reading this now! I am very happy
and proud of the things I do for the State Police,
the County Sheriffs, the City Police... {across the board}...
'Cos I also do those things for ME!
Thank you for listening!

ERTLing007@hotmail.com @ 11/9/2007 9:28 PM

It's Unfortunate that another " New Penny " found out the hard way that your buddies don't always stay that way. True Friends will always be there and I only have Two of them left from my Days of Youth. They know and appreciate my Job and have always been supportive of my Profession. As another Brother wrote, Policing is a Higher Calling and isn't for everybody, those of us in Policing are here for a reason and have been " made " to do this Job just as not everyone can become a Doctor. Always Remember: We are the Shepherds protecting the Sheep from the Wolves at the Door!

JCox @ 12/25/2007 6:50 AM

This article is so very true. I started out at a EMS/Fire Communications center and then came to the Sheriff's Office. My father, father in-law, best friend were all LEO. I had my friends but when I came to the Sheriffs Office in a non-sworn position, they distanced themselves from me. I asked myself, "What have I done?" and it wasn't long that I realized that what I had done was connected myself with a Law Enforcement Agency. Now I'm getting ready to go to BLET in August and I'm finding this to be happening yet again. You are correct, it's not me, it's the job, the profession, the not feeling comfortable part. Do some of my friends have something to hide? Makes you wonder.

PJ @ 1/10/2013 2:52 PM

My ex husband actually started to really hate me during our marraige when I decided to start getting in shape to apply to be a cop. It helped ruin my marraige and we were soon divorced. I never did become a cop but worked in LE for many years. I'm grateful to be freed from the narrowmindedness of my ex. I hope you all who may lose friends can see how narrowminded those friends were too and find some real caring friends.

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