Retired Cop? Use Your Police Skills as a Volunteer

Life after policing is different for each of us. It might look the same to those still in an active police career, but when we finally leave policing, it’s not as simple as it looks to have a meaningful retirement. A retired detective I know told me: “John, you can only play golf so long.”Some golfers might disagree with that but he had been retired a few years and was looking for a way to give back to his community.

Some retired police officers went directly into second careers but that’s not necessarily the best way to go. Those skills you learned in your police career can be put to good use in other ways.Volunteering-SVG-800px

Volunteering is one option. I’ve met retired police officers who volunteered their time at everything from coaching sports teams to helping out at animal shelters. One took some specialized training in hospice care and spends his time with those in that final stage of life.

Want some ideas about where to volunteer? Check out at It’s an organization dedicated to making the world a better place by using the skills of those in their encore, or second, careers. You’ll find lots of stories about people who made valuable contributions to their communities by using the skills they learned during their work life.

Volunteering can also lead to learning new skills and even into new paid work. You might find your second career by venturing into a field different from police work but still making use of your police skills. Paid or not, you’re likely to find meaning and satisfaction from spending some time volunteering. As a retired cop, you have a lot to offer your community.

John Eldridge
Retired Police Officer
Author of Second Careers for Street Cops
Amazon Author Page
Twitter: @copsecondcareer
Member Public Safety Writers Association

Policing – It’s Not All Bad

We had a riot in Vancouver in 2011. It looked like mayhem. Cars on the street burnt to a blackened crisp, store windows smashed out, fearful citizens wondering what had happened to their beautiful city.liftarn-Big-brick-800px

Then something amazing happened. The morning after, thousands of people flooded into the downtown area. They helped clean up the mess left from the awful events of the day before, anxious to set things right, and supportive of their police department.

National Thank a Police Officer Day was September 19th, a time for communities to pause and show their gratitude for the good work done by the police. And many did. It’s a good reminder of how much citizens appreciate the police, but that we don’t hear much about. Maybe they’re all part of that silent majority we know exists.

So we know a lot of the community are grateful for the police, but what do the police think of the work they do?

Police officers know about the great things street cops do, the thousands of positive contacts each day, the awesome help given to the community that never makes the headlines. And of course we all know the other side of the coin, the one big, negative police incident that everyone reads about and that overshadows all the good stuff. Once you’ve been in policing for a while you know that it just happens. You learn to live with it.

Police officer & child statue outside Vancouver Police Museum

Police officer & child statue outside Vancouver Police Museum

It’s easy to slip into the “us versus them” frame of mind when that happens, the idea that nobody understands the police and everyone is against the thin blue line. It just can’t be that way though. As we saw on National Thank a Police Officer Day, there are too many good people out there who support the police for it to be “us versus them.” The police are also “them.” The original meaning of COP was Citizens on Patrol and it really is still that way today. Police officers are citizens too.

This can be a tough time to be a street cop. The police are more accountable than ever and it seems their every move is scrutinized. A police officer friend of mine was the subject of a three-year investigation. Cleared of any wrong-doing in the end, it took a heavy toll on him. Try sleeping at night when you’re under that kind of stress.

We just have to remember the good parts, the people who came out to clean up Vancouver after the riot, and those that remembered to say thank you on National Thank a Police Officer day.

It’s not all bad. It’s not perfect, but policing is a pretty fine way to spend one’s work life.

John Eldridge
Retired Police Officer
Author of Second Careers for Street Cops
Amazon Author Page
Twitter: @copsecondcareer
Member Public Safety Writers Association

Labour Day and Policing

Autumn-By-The-LakeSummer must be just about over: the weather’s getting cooler, the kids are going back to school, and the first Monday in September is Labour Day.

That means a long weekend for most workers. Not the cops though. They’re still out there working 24/7. Let’s remember them and other first responders on Labour Day, while the rest of us are enjoying the long weekend.

JNESS-POLICE-CARAnd let’s consider what Labour Day means to those of us who’ve had a police career. Ok, you remember WORKING on Labour Day, just like our current police officers do. Yes, most of us worked many holidays during our police careers, including Labour Day.

But there’s more to Labour Day. It’s an opportunity to stop and remember a lot of the good parts of our police careers. Things like decent salaries, health benefits, vacations and pensions. Of course there’s more to like about policing, and some parts not to like, but the benefits and a pension at the end of the road are a big plus. They’re not the reality of all police organizations, but many do pretty well. Those benefits kept a lot of us going through long, tiring night shifts.

Labour Day is a big deal. For me, it’s a time to be thankful. And a time to remember the big impact our police union had on my work life.

I was a member of the Vancouver Police Union for twenty-one years. Later when I moved into police management, my experience as a member of the police union had an influence on me. It helped me look at the big picture and reminded me to keep a sense of fairness in my decision-making. I had a second career in investigations management after my policing career and it too was influenced by my police union experience.

I’m not alone in that. I’ve known three former police union members who went on to become police chiefs. Many others ended up in police leadership roles.

I encourage today’s police officers to get involved with their union, or association, or fraternity. It’s a broadening experience and an opportunity to learn more about policing, especially the discipline process and contract negotiation.

So on Labour Day I’ll be grateful to those who went before me, and remembering the support that helped get many police officers through the good and bad times, right to the end of their policing days.

John Eldridge
Author of Second Careers for Street Cops
Amazon Author Page
Twitter: @copsecondcareer
Member Public Safety Writers Association

Three Things You Need to Know About Your Police Career

You’re sitting in your patrol car on night shift watching the traffic go by. It’s raining hard and you’re tired from not getting enough sleep because you were in court the previous afternoon. All you can really think about is getting through the night and going to bed. But you can’t forget your sergeant’s comments at the briefing three hours ago. She talked about some serious crime problems in your area and you’re expected to be alert, ready to respond at a moment’s notice. You wonder how much longer you can keep doing it.

The night is getting long, and you feel like your police career is too.           9470.original-4203                             

This might be one of those times when you ask yourself if policing is what you want to do for the rest of your work life. You wonder if you should quit and get a nine to five office job.

Not likely.

Police work gets in your blood and most of us stick with it. And by doing that, we earn our credentials. All that experience adds up to a career you can build on for a second career, a new work life after policing.

Here are three things to keep in mind while you’re trying to get through that night shift:

  • Your law enforcement career is a valuable asset. You’ve learned a unique set of skills in police work that can be used in many other jobs. For example, problem confrontation, good judgment, decision-making, perseverance, teamwork, and many more. These are all qualities that you can claim as part of your career portfolio now, and use to find a second career. What organization wouldn’t want someone who had developed such important characteristics?
  • You need a second career plan if you want to move on to another career after policing. You might get lucky and just stumble into a great second career, but having a good plan gives you more control.
  • Build on your police career experience. Figure out what you’re good at and get even better at it. Train, learn, and use your experience to develop a career portfolio that will make you an attractive candidate for your next career. Do as much training as you can while you’re still in your police career.

So as you’re watching that traffic go by, thinking night shift will never end, and wondering if there’s any value to your policing career, think about your experience, what you’ve learned, and how you can put all that to work for you. It might make the night a little shorter.

John Eldridge

Author of Second Careers for Street Cops
Amazon Author Page
Twitter: @copsecondcareer
Member Public Safety Writers Association


PSWA Member graphic

Getting Second Career Help in Las Vegas

untitledI went to Las Vegas last week, not to gamble but to get some help with my next career. Yes, in Las Vegas!

las-vegas-sign-02-01I was there for a police writers’ conference. Any of us pursuing a career after policing can benefit from going to a conference in the field of our choice. Think about it. You can get all the great police contacts and none of the police bureaucracy!

Sometimes in our police department we were lucky enough to be sent to a conference. When we got back to work we had to produce a report for the sergeant, or the superintendent, or even the chief. Or we had to give a presentation on what we had learned.

It’s all different when you’re going just for you. I found it a lot more enjoyable to attend the conference of my choice and go to the workshops I was really interested in. Don’t forget, this is all about your second career. Go to the workshops you like and make the contacts just for you.

Attending conferences is a great way to learn about a second career. For example, are you interested in a second career in the security industry? Take a look at ASIS, the giant security organization with the slogan “Advancing Security Worldwide.” ASIS has conferences all over the world. Here’s a link to the current list This year there’s even one in Anaheim so you could take in Disneyland at the same time.

How about you fraud investigators? The Association of Certified Fraud Investigators has several conferences each year. Here’s a link Want to make good contacts in the world of fraud investigations that will advance your career after policing? This is the place to do it.

A few more that might interest those looking for a career after policing:

There are many more. Maybe, like me, you want to write about law enforcement issues. The Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA) is the place for police/crime/mystery writers. You can find it at  The PSWA conference takes place in July each year in Las Vegas. They’re a great group, very supportive for all levels of writers.

Just do yourself a favor and don’t try to fly out of Las Vegas on a Sunday night. Everyone goes there for the weekend and they all leave at once. I was on the party plane, many of whom appeared hung-over and tired. Including the guy wearing a tutu.


(Las Vegas photo courtesy of shutterstock

PSWA Member graphic

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, but Dog Treats Do

Second Careers for Street Cops

Sophie doesn’t worry about money. That’s because she’s a food-obsessive golden retriever who is constantly looking for her next meal. No need to plan or think about money to buy food. That’s where I come in.

This is one of the best times of year for Sophie. The blackberries are out and when we go for our walk they’re readily available on the low-hanging branches. Some are ripe and some aren’t but Sophie doesn’t seem to care. Dog treats growing on trees! It doesn’t get any better for her.011

Unlike blackberries, as my dad told me years ago: “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Having a good enough income to live the life we want after retiring from policing takes work and planning. Lots of us have gone on to a second career and it really helps if we did some planning along the way to find a job we enjoyed.

Let’s face it, policing has its up and downs. After twenty-five or thirty years of working in your police agency, you might have had enough of the police bureaucracy and be ready to work at something else, maybe a job that builds on your police experience but puts you more in control of your day-to-day work schedule.

Now we can take Sophie’s approach and grab the first thing that comes along without giving it much thought. She enjoys those blackberries whether or not they’re ripe. But wouldn’t she like them more if they were all dark, juicy, ripe ones?010

That’s what I think about police officers moving on to a second career. With some self-analysis and planning, we have a better chance of finding the second career that suits us better, rather than one that leaves us dissatisfied and frustrated once we’re in it. Pick the ripe career blackberries that you’re going to be happy with. Don’t settle for the ones that aren’t going to make you happy.

This blog post is too short to suggest planning strategies. Besides, you probably want to do it your own way. There’s an overwhelming amount of career planning information available, as you’ll see by doing a simple internet search. Narrow it down to second career planning so the analysis and planning is more likely to be related to where you are in your career path. There’s some good material in the Resources section of my website that may help you. Here’s the link

Sophie isn’t ever going to plan to get those ripe blackberries. She’ll just plunge ahead and grab whatever she can get. For us, and our second career planning, it’s more complicated, but the rewards of picking wisely can be great.

Sophie on Canada Day 2012. Dog Park in Richmond.



Easy Networking



Second Careers for Street Cops

I went to a baseball game Sunday afternoon. Vancouver was leading Hillsboro 6 – 2 in the top of the 9th inning. Vancouver brings in a closing pitcher. He throws one pitch. Hillsboro hits into a double play. Game over. Vancouver wins. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

While I was at the game, I ran into an old police pal that I hadn’t seen in years. Cops have this odd way of being able to launch right into conversations as if they’d just seen each other a few days ago. That’s what we did, talking about the latest gossip from the police department, how so-and-so is doing, and the big job facing the new chief. It was like we were back on night shift again and carrying on a conversation from the night before. All part of a great afternoon.

My old friend is well into his second career after policing. As we sat enjoying our drinks, the conversation, and the game, I got thinking about how he’s part of my network, and I’m part of his. We could phone each other any time and ask questions that would never go any further. It’s the trust thing, built on years of working together in policing and knowing we can count on each other.

Networking is so easy in the police community. Street cops and retired street cops have built-in networks. Cops don’t seem to like the word “network” though. It’s as if there’s an artificial element to it, a phoniness. Police officers deal with phony people a lot. And they don’t much like them.

So if the word “network” bothers you, just think of it as all the people you know, and trust, to give you straight information. Want to find out about a company you’re thinking of going to work for after your police career? Ask that old police pal who works for the same company what it’s really like. Bet you’ll get some valuable information. But don’t forget it works both ways … you’re a support for others in your network also.

There’s been a lot written about how to develop a supportive network. Check out the Resources link on my website at to learn more about making your network a positive force in your second career planning.

Back to baseball. The next time you run into that old police pal at the ball park, think about the network you’re both part of, and how you can help each other advance into your next career.


Where to Find a Job

untitledSecond Careers for Street Cops

Here are some direct links to places where you can look for second careers, starting with those directly related to law enforcement and then looking at some of the big job sites that also have police-related jobs.

ASIS International is a global security organization

SSR Personnel

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)

Go Law Enforcement

911 Hot Jobs

Careers in Government

The Blue Line

Jobs by State

International Association of Chiefs of Police Not all jobs listed here are police executive jobs.

Police One

Shadow Freight Security Interesting firm that hires retired police.

National Association of Retired Police Officers (UK)

Off Duty (UK)

Blue Line Jobs (UK)

All Police Jobs (UK)

Police Oracle (UK)

Police Skills (UK)

Cop Jobs (Canada)

Workopolis (Canada)


Not all countries have job sites specific to law enforcement such as those above. If that’s where you are, search the big job boards that work internationally. They do have jobs related to law enforcement and they’re easy to find. Just search by country and the type of job you’re interested in. Here are some of the big ones:



Career Builder

And an interesting site with an even longer list of employment sites, the International Association of Employment Web Sites


This post is not an exhaustive list. There are probably more places out there to look for a job. If you know of a link to a good law enforcement job site, please let me know so we can share the information with others.


Writing as a Second Career


Second Careers for Street Cops

I always wanted to be a writer, until I became a cop. Then I wrote so many police reports that I never wanted to write anything again. After I left policing, I went into a second career, still in investigations. More reports! Finally, when I was done with regular jobs, that old yearning returned and I decided to write a book.

Who has more stories than street cops? People are fascinated by police work and love reading about it. Crime, mystery, intrigue. There seems to be no end to the public interest in reading about police and police experiences. And who knows more about the often strange and bizarre world of police work than those who have done it for a living? Like you.

But set the story ideas aside for a moment. After years working in a police bureaucracy, how does not having a boss sound? Pretty appealing? Write for a second career and you’ll see what it’s like to work on your own schedule, without a boss. Feel like working at ten in the morning or midnight? It’s up to you.

Lots of street cops have gone on to become writers. For example, Stuart Leishman is a retired Detective-Sergeant who recently published The Detectives, a book about some of the criminal investigations he was involved in. Michael Black is a retired police sergeant from the Chicago area who has over forty articles, thirty short stories, and twenty-three novels to his credit. He’s currently working on his eighth book in the Executioner series. Here’s a link to his website so you can get an idea of how his police career transitioned into a writing career. Bill Sharp had a long, long career in the RCMP and then wrote Cop – Forty-three Years in The Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (And I think Bill deserves a medal for just surviving police work that long!)

If you decide to become a writer, do some reading and see how publishing has changed. There are all sorts of ways to get published now. Like blogging! You can pitch your writing to a traditional publisher or self-publish and still find your work available for all the world to view. One thing I learned along the way was to shed the police style of writing. I had to get rid of my police report style of writing and lighten up as I wrote. Imagine trying to get through a book that reads like a court document or next year’s budget report … just wouldn’t work would it.

Sophie, my writing companion

Sophie, my writing companion

Writing can be a solitary occupation and after the support you’ve had in your police career you’ll be pleased to know you don’t have to do this completely alone. There are many writers groups, conferences, and courses where you can find support. Check out the Public Safety Writers Association at Do the pictures on the site look familiar? That’s because a lot of the members are police officers and retired police officers. If you’re a street cop who wants to be a writer, this is the ideal group to support you in your writing journey.

There are a million stories out there. You’ve got some of them. If writing is your way of having a second career, take those stories and turn them into ideas that you can publish.PSWA Member graphic

Where To Find Free Advice


Second Careers for Street Cops

There’s a lot of second career information out there. Almost too much. In fact, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with suggestions, self-analysis, and strategies for your individual game plan. Do yourself a big favor and avoid the shotgun approach. Pick a few good sources of information. Expand your knowledge base as you find resources that suit you. Take your time in absorbing this new information so you feel comfortable with the path you’re on.

LinkedIn is a good place to start. It’s loaded with information. I’d suggest taking note of groups that relate to your future plans. Click on the Interests tab at top, then Groups. This is where you can get some useful support. There are groups on LinkedIn you would be eligible to join because you’re a police officer or retired police officer. Here are some that can help with your second career planning:

  • Former Police Officers in Business
  • Retired Law Enforcement
  • ASIS International (particularly good for second careers in the security industry)
  • Police – Life after the job
  • Professional Private Investigators
  • (all about second careers while helping to make the world a better place)

They all post useful tips. Search for other LinkedIn groups that interest you and fit with your ideas for a second career. There are thousands available.

LinkedIn is also where you organize your network and connect with other professionals. I made many contacts during my police career and second career. Now I use LinkedIn to stay connected to them. It’s a powerful tool in your second career tool kit. The basic package is free and more than adequate.

Forget that Twitter sounds like a child’s game. It’s anything but! Twitter is an excellent source of information for you and your second career plans. Here’s why: all the experts are on Twitter. No one in business can ignore social media these days and that includes career coaches. They post (free) information about a wide variety of career subjects, including second career planning. Again, avoid the shotgun approach and pick a few to follow. Twitter has a search tool that can find ones that interest you.

Pick up a good book about second career planning. Start with your free public library and if you don’t find what you want there, try a good bookstore. Look in the Business or Careers section. I’ve noted some books in the Resources section of my website that can help.

You’re probably a very busy person. Keeping all the balls in the air while you pursue your police career and the rest of your life likely has you running flat out. So plan your second career as you go along using these simple resources. That way, you don’t have to have a second career planning a second career!