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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.
Careers

Service is Your Job

This vocation is a calling, not just a paycheck.

May 08, 2009  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

I was speaking with a young officer the other day. He is neither a recruit, nor a rookie, so with his limited experience I will deem him a journeyman officer. Seems he is a bit disillusioned about the job now. Well, what is the problem, Lad?

Not What I Thought

Maybe he had watched far too many television action series before the academy. He actually thought the recruiting movies were for real? The police academy has you so jacked-up on adrenalin you think every day is going to be a rock'em and sock'em thrill ride. And your FTO has you prepared for the worst case scenarios known to mankind.

You graduate the program and now you are the true warrior dressed in blue. Then, nothing happens. You go to work and catch calls for service. But where are those blazing shoot-outs with terrorists? This is boring—did I miss something?

Well, this is police work and reality. We train for the worst but if we are lucky, we could spend a career without making the national news. Do not let this sour you; it is your luck of the draw in policeland. Deal with it.

Don't Become Jaded or Complacent

Experiencing a multitude of shifts you find seriously lacking in shoot-em-up action can have two detrimental effects on you as a cop, or a dangerous combination of the two.

One, you could become so jaded about the job that you lose your focus. You forget your true job description. A police officer is a "human service provider." You provide service to those in need. Even making an arrest is a public service. You have made it safer for the public by removing this perp.

Don't become so jaded that you forget to be a good public servant. Treat everyone as you would want your mother to be treated: with dignity. The day you treat everyone as a perp, please do the professionals a favor and turn in your shield. No cop ever stands so tall as when he or she reaches down to help those in need.

The next flaw could be complacency: "Nothing ever happens in this city, nothing happens in my precinct, and so what." With this attitude, your tactics are lowered, your skills diminish, and you are there only to wear a uniform and make your check.

Let me remind you that the school tragedies we've had in this nation were not in the big cities but small, quiet communities. Many of our major headlines come from the least suspecting places. Luckily, the officers involved have remembered their callings of providing great human service to save some kids from a creep. They kept their warrior mindset there and waiting; they served and did the job!

The key point here is to keep your edge and keep your focus. The "job" is not a job; it is a true vocational calling that few can perform. You must stay on top of your game so that one day when the call does come out you will be prepared and perform brilliantly.

Train like others depend on you, for they do!


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