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
Email: johneldridge99@shaw.ca
Website: http://secondcareersforstreetcops.com/
Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/author/johneldridge
Twitter: @copsecondcareer https://twitter.com/copsecondcareer
Member Public Safety Writers Association http://policewriter.com/wordpress/

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
Email: jmeldridge@shaw.ca
Website: http://secondcareersforstreetcops.com/
Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/author/johneldridge
Twitter: @copsecondcareer https://twitter.com/copsecondcareer
Member Public Safety Writers Association http://policewriter.com/wordpress/