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Columns : The Federal Voice

The LEOSA Blues

It's not easy separating from the day-to-day work of law enforcement when you really did love it.

March 01, 2018  |  by Jon Adler

On Dec. 8, I retired from law enforcement after serving over 26 years, and joined the ranks of the LEOSA elite. The next day, I panicked and poked myself to see if blue blood was still running through my veins. Fortunately, I realized that while the body ages, the blue never fades. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Jon Adler
Jon Adler

Similar to my ignoring the need to engage in financial planning, I hadn't focused on preparing for the full impact of separating from service. LEOSA issues were something I advocated for on behalf of our retired brethren, but hadn't thought of LEOSA ever applying to me. Now when I get dressed in the morning and grab my wallet and keys, I stare at my field carry handcuffs that remain idle in a drawer. If you asked me five years ago if I'd ever miss carrying handcuffs, I'd immediately think of all the torn jacket linings and respond, no. Now, it somehow feels like amputee syndrome.

During my law enforcement career, I carried all the major food groups as a plainclothes criminal investigator: tactical light, magazines, radio, baton, etc. Since retiring, I've gained a few pounds, but it feels like I've lost 20 by not wearing all that equipment.

The biggest retirement shock came only days after I actually retired. While standing on the Trenton, N.J., train platform after my train broke down, I heard from other passengers that a terrorist had just attempted to detonate a bomb at the Port Authority in New York City. I reached for my job phone for a status report, but there was no job phone. All the law enforcement first responder thoughts that raced through my head wound up racing like a mouse on a treadmill with nowhere to go. The reality that I was now officially a "bystander" sent shockwaves through me.

Pre-retirement, I would whine about the insufficient pension. Post-retirement, I'm whining about the exorbitant cost of LEOSA liability insurance.

While engaging in general conversation about any law enforcement topic that hits the news, I typically use "we" to express my point. Now, grudgingly, I have to transition to using "they." Actually, I still use "we," and always will. Nonetheless, it's a challenge being a fan of the game, and no longer serving on the playing field. There's still fire in my belly, but that fire has to be routed elsewhere.

Fortunately, there's opportunity to serve in non-profit law enforcement organizations, which keeps the blue blood circulating. I was given a thin blue line Valor bracelet and I'm proud to wear it every day. Also, I wear a Police Unity Tour bracelet honoring the ultimate sacrifice of 9/11 fallen hero Sergeant Ned Thompson. As I adjust to the LEOSA life, I realize there are still ways where I can serve in a support role.

As a career law enforcement tactical trainer, I still have the compulsion to flap my lips and lecture the young folks. The problem is that I'm app challenged and therefore unable to communicate effectively to the youngsters.

Now I find myself anxiously waiting for the next law enforcement conference to post so I can be the first to register. In preparation for those conferences, I work on my repertoire of stories about how I caught a bad-guy fish this big, but I realize that my fish catching days now are limited to charter boat ventures. This gives me time to fine-tune, aka embellish, my old stories since I won't be distracted by new ones that will no longer be coming.

Pre-retirement, I would whine about the insufficient pension. Post-retirement, I'm whining about the exorbitant cost of LEOSA liability insurance. Same goes for the price of a cup of coffee. I find myself cranking out my Mr. Coffee machine, and drinking extra cups of so-so coffee just to boycott Starbucks. Gotta have a mission!

Aside from my LEOSA lament, I do tell anyone within ear shot that if I had the choice of doing it again, I'd be first in line every time. Every law enforcement officer who makes it to pension leaves behind a legacy of honor and sacrifice that's invaluable. When we separate from service, we don't need a parade committee formed to honor our departure. Our parade is in our fond memories and in our hearts. God bless all those who have served and all our guardians who continue to uphold the Thin Blue Line.

Jon Adler is the president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation.

Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

Mike Koll @ 3/10/2018 6:13 AM

Hey John...oh so true. Out of sight...out of mind. You and I WERE (that is the operative word) federal agents. I had 34 years. Retirement is a shock and an adjustment. Agencies could do a lot more to prepare their retiring people. LEOSA liability insurance needs better pricing and affordability. Many issues with the LEOSA law itself that no one seems to care about. Enjoy your retirement; find new non-law enforcement related activities to give your life meaning and purpose (enjoyment). Be well and be safe! Mike :-)

Jon Retired LEO, Deputy S @ 3/10/2018 7:59 AM

Hi Jon, I am glad that I am not the only one that has been feeling those "pains" so to speak. Always enjoy your comments on Police Magazine's On Target. Keep them coming and happy retirement!

Bradford Roberts @ 3/10/2018 2:34 PM

Yep same thing happened to me, took some adjustment.....I found Truck Driving been seeing the country i like it a lot.....what is LEOSA liability insurance?I'm assuming you guys in the northern Lib states have to have a policy to carry....Im a southern deputy we don't have those problems.

Trigger @ 3/12/2018 8:04 AM

Congrats John, I retired after spending 26 years on the road, that lasted about four months. Since then I have had the opportunity to work in various criminal justice positions that I never would have given a second look at before, it's been great. Now I'm in administration something totally different that what I did for 26 years. I initially retired 14 years ago and have been moving full speed ahead in my new cj endeavors... life is good. Good Lord willing in another three years the gun belt will be hung up for good.

Jenanne @ 3/13/2018 8:49 AM

1st Congrats on your well deserved retirement after 26 years. Try checking with some Community Colleges, or institutes that teach Criminal Justice to see if you can get in to teaching, or occasional speaking, with all your experience a lot of students would probably appreciate your comments/insight to the LEO work. (Imagine that could keep you going while transitioning to retirement!)

Mercedes @ 3/20/2018 9:32 AM

Congrats Jon. Job well done for so many years. It is one of the hardest experiences you will ever go through. Moving on to a world were you don’t know were you belong and you feel like Waldo with every breath you take. No one can prepare you for this life changing challenge. BUT. You can do it. You will always be blue. Eat sleep and breathe blue. You will always have a blue family next to you.. Best wishes....(Ret. NYPD Detective)

Bobby Meurer @ 3/20/2018 10:59 AM

Hey Jon... Congratulations on your retirement. Glad to see all is well with you. Now that you have all this free time... lol... you should come back to the program and finish your Ed.D. with us! Just a thought... cash those checks and enjoy brother!!!

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