In the past, a police officer's personal life
was pretty much his own.  I'm using the
masculine pronoun [his], because, in the
past, nearly all police officers were male.  
Police officers were expected to keep
their personal affairs in order.  There was
little tolerance for personal crises which
adversely affected other police officers
and their daily work environment.  Of
course, since police officers were working
in a single gender environment, they had
a tremendous support group.  

Police commanders rarely became
involved in an individual police officer's
personal crisis.  When a commander
became aware of a crisis, or a perceived
crisis, in a police officer's personal life,
he'd simply make it known, to those
subordinate to him, that he wanted the
problem addressed…and solved.  If an
effort was not already underway, that's
when the police officer's immediate
supervisor and fellow police officers would
swing into action.

A lot is made of the fact that police
officers deal with some extremely
stressful situations in their work
environment…and that's true.  But…police
officers are just people, and they
experience the same kinds of crises in
their personal lives as anyone else.  Many
would argue that the police officer's work
environment contributes to, and
exacerbates, the seriousness and
potential damage from a personal crisis
which would otherwise be less were it not
for the police officer's working
environment.  This goes right back to my
point that the police officer's working
environment can be a very positive factor
when confronting a personal crisis.  The
truth is that police work is a very
convenient causal excuse for any number
of personal crises in police officers' lives.

When people talk about personal crisis,
they tend to miss the meaning of
"personal."  The vast majority of personal
crises — for anyone — will involve a
personal relationship with a person of the
opposite sex.  It doesn't matter whether
the cause of the crisis is financial; work
related or whether the primary cause
arises from unique circumstances within
the personal relationship.  The severity of
the crisis will depend upon how the crisis
affects the personal relationship.

Again…in the past…and before the
crushing advance of political correctness,
police officers were quick to support their
own and do everything in their power to
provide good counsel to their  fellow
police officers.  The biggest advantage of
any single gender work environment is its
ability to absorb a multitude of views.  
Police work used to be unique in this
regard.  A police officer could receive
counsel ranging from thoughtful to the
absurd, but the police officer had the
advantage of evaluating his crisis in the
light of honest counsel.

Today, the absence of the single gender
work environment, and the onslaught of
political correctness has placed the
personal crises of police officers squarely
within the domain of the Personal Crisis
Industry.  The informal peer counseling
of the past is now not only unwelcome,
but it's also dangerous to any police
officer who might offer counsel to a fellow
police officer who is experiencing a
personal crisis.

When you begin your police career,
you're going to see a lot of police officers
in crisis.  If you're a relatively self
sufficient individual, you're going to view
most of the "crises" you observe as just
everyday, normal problems people have.  
While your predecessors would have
quickly verbalized that view without fear
of retaliation, you won't enjoy the same
freedom to express your views.
One of the greatest benefits of being a
police officer is the opportunity to view
social behavior at its best and worst;
albeit, the worst far outweighs the best.  
However, that's good, because you see,
first hand, the often disastrous
consequences that result from
irresponsible personal behavior.

So, why is irresponsible behavior so
tolerated, and even acceptable, in so
many parts of the society you serve?  
The short answer is, it's profitable.  A
growing economy combined with doctors,
lawyers, all kinds of advocates, and a
runaway healthcare system have made
personal crisis a multi-billion dollar

However, the personal crisis industry is
suffering the same growing pains any
industry suffers from fast and furious
growth.  Any infrastructure is only as
good as its ability to handle the volume
for which it's designed.  When the
volume exceeds the design, things start
to become complicated.

Police officers have always been at risk of
being adversely affected psychologically
by situations and circumstances that
come with the territory.  Some may
become physically ill from some of the
things they simply witness.  In the past,
a police officer either put all the awful
things into perspective, or the police
officer would resign and look for another
line of work.  Peer pressure contributed
significantly to weeding out those who
were psychologically unsuited for police
work.  That pressure was rarely mean
spirited.  Instead, the pressure was
applied in good faith with the welfare of
the individual police officer as the primary
factor.  Of course, since police officers
are so dependent upon one another, the
group's welfare was also of paramount

Things weren't perfect.  Some police
officers would succumb to stress and
emulate, in various degrees, some of the
irresponsible behavior they observed in
others on a daily basis.  However, most
would disdain such behavior, and they
would consciously work to prevent
similarly destructive behavior from
entering their personal lives.  In other
words, they learned from their

Today, the weeding out process by peer
pressure has pretty much come to a
halt.  To ever increasing degrees, it's now
acceptable for police officers to be just as
weak and dependent as the next
person.  You might ask the question,
"What about the pre-employment
psychological testing?"  Good question.  
Most, if not all police departments, now
require psychological evaluation of people
seeking to become police officers.  Of
course, the primary purpose of pre-
employment psychological testing is to
identify the aggressive personalities
among us.  Pretty much everything else
can be fixed later on by the Industry…or
so some believe.

There are two exceptions to the "fix it
later" category.  Domestic violence and
sexual harassment are gender specific
zero tolerance items.  Both of these
transgressions will prevent your
employment as a police officer in the first
place.  If they occur post employment,
you'll find no sympathetic counseling
solutions from the Industry.  If you have
to ask what is meant by "gender
specific," you'll have to work on your
powers of observation.

Every person will have a personal crisis,
from time to time, in his or her life.  
These occurrences are normal and
inevitable.  Normality applies when you're
subjected to a personal crisis which is
beyond your ability to control.  
Obviously, these crises would include
actions by others close to you which may
cause you stress and worry in varying
degrees.  Ill health or death of a family
member or a close friend comes in at the
top of that list.
Personal Crisis
"Any infrastructure is only as good as
its ability to handle the volume for
which it's designed."
~ Barry M. Baker
In case you haven't noticed, you're living
in a personal crisis society.  As a police
officer, you'll deal with some kind of crisis
nearly every day of your career.  It's
always been that way for police officers.  
The biggest risk you face — even bigger
than risk to your physical safety — is
becoming a casualty of the ever
increasing personal crisis mania.

Today, personal courage is expressed in
some pretty perverse ways.  You're told
it's okay if you're as weak and inadequate
as the next guy.  An entire industry has
been built around personal crisis, and
police officers are an ideal target for this
burgeoning industry.  The next time you
watch your favorite cop show on
television, take note of how much time is
devoted to the personal crises of the cop

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
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As a police officer, you'll
be writing something
everyday of your police
career.  Everything you put
to writing, no matter how
seemingly inconsequential,
will be important.
Accurate crime reporting is
so important on so many
levels.  It all begins with
you and your preliminary
police report.