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|Copyright © 2019 Barry M. Baker
You might join a police department that really has
everything together. The department will demand a
high level of competence from you, and it will
quickly recognize and reward you when you exceed
that already high level. Then — of course — there
is the other side of that coin. You could join a
police department where management considers
your paycheck as ample reward.
Here's the point…it's all about self-satisfaction. I'm
sure people in other professions experience self-
satisfaction, but a police career provides you with
so many ways, and opportunities, to experience
self-satisfaction on a constant basis. You have the
ability to ensure that nearly everything you do
results in a positive outcome. Once you realize that
what other people think of you is totally
unimportant, you're well on your way to experience
self-satisfaction in everything you do. Recognition
by others, in any form, is only a very temporary
thing. How you recognize yourself, as you
constantly strive to better yourself, is all that really
There are very few professions wherein any single
individual can have a dramatic impact on anything
on a relatively frequent basis. While police officers
are not immediately recognized for their importance
to society, one needs only to imagine even our
supposedly enlightened society without police
officers. Think about this…without the social order
ensured by police officers, no one, in any
profession, could accomplish anything.
Okay…that's the big picture. The small picture is
you, as an individual police officer, and how often
you have a dramatic impact on the lives of others.
Your impact can be positive even when it's negative
for an individual. If you arrest a person for drunk
driving, it's a negative impact for that person, but
your impact is positive for society at large. While
the whole criminal justice system is geared toward
negatively impacting some for the welfare of many,
it all begins with you. If you don't take the first,
and sometimes dangerous, action on a face to face
basis, nothing will come afterward. Without police
officers, the criminal justice system would be a
totally impotent bureaucracy.
You might think that with such an important
position and mission, your more important
accomplishments would, from time to time, be
recognized and perhaps rewarded. It's true that,
like the military, police departments have awards in
the form of medals and citations for exceptional
performance. In a very well organized police
department, management realizes the importance of
recognizing, and rewarding, exceptional
performance. In a weakly organized or
dysfunctional police department, recognition of your
good work is the last thing on anyone's mind.
"Recognition by others, in any form, is only a
very temporary thing. How you recognize
yourself, as you constantly strive to better
yourself, is all that really matters."
~ Barry M. Baker