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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.

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