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|Copyright © 2021 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 matters.
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
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
|Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement