In modern society there are many challenges to police work. They can be very overwhelming but many grant satisfaction. It takes a special individual to be a police officer and perform the duties that are required by law for them to do. This paper will look at the satisfactions and challenges of police work on a day to day basis.
One challenge that police officers face daily is the stress that accompanies the job. Many officers face very stressful and intense situations that need to be handled carefully. A police officer may face a crowd that is rioting and looting and is greatly outnumbered. He or she faces the risk of being overrun and this can be detrimental to their emotions. They may be in fear of their life because crowds feed off of each other and can become very aggressive and violent. In some instances the officer will face gunfire and this puts the officer in a life or death situation.
If the officer has to kill the subject then the officer may face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and this can affect their performance of their daily duties and their personal lives. According to (Gersons, 1989) shooting incidents are a rare phenomenon in low violence police work; however, when a shooting incident occurs, the psychological impact for the officers involved may take the form of severe PTSD (Stewart,2011). There are programs that help individuals to cope with PTSD and can get help from The National Institute for Mental Health.
Another challenge that our police officers face on a daily basis is the relations they have with the citizens of the community. Many members of society see the police officers as the enemy or are out to get them. This cannot be further from the truth. The officers need to know how to communicate with the people in stressful situations. Most people do not realize that officers are called to show up at a residence and it may be the worst day of that individual’s life. Police officers communicate with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, attitudes, and preconceptions (2008). One skill an officer uses at one call may not work at another call. The officer must adapt and control the situation and use his or her training to get the facts and information from the bystanders or the victim(s).
With all the challenges and stressors that come with policing there are also satisfactions that come with the job. Officers serve and protect the public. They patrol the streets to ensure the community is safe from would be offenders or to apprehend the ones that have already committed crimes. They take individuals of the streets that are a danger to society. They help people that may have a flat tire, domestic disputes, or have had their home broken in to. The officers feel satisfied when they capture the suspect and when they help people in need. When the officers are recognized for their good work they are satisfied with their job and may become more motivated to improve their performance on the job. Many strive to climb the ranks and with each promotion come more satisfaction.
A career in law enforcement in itself is a satisfaction that many people do not get. Many officers do not do the job for the pay but rather the rewards that come with the job in serving and helping the community. Certain officers find it very rewarding when they can help a juvenile down the right path and to possibly mentor others from making life changing mistakes. Officers need to stay positive in their work and duties to ensure job satisfaction because it can affect the work they perform and also affect community relations as to how they see the police. Thus, poor performance can impact police-community relations by adversely affecting public attitudes toward the police (Buzawa, Austin, & Bannon, 1994). In the routine of having a positive work attitude and environment it creates less stress levels and fewer symptoms of stress that can lead to absenteeism, burnout, and alcoholism.
There are many reasons why people do not want to become part of the law enforcement community but there are a lot of reasons and rewards why other people feel they are being called to serve and protect. Officers face many challenges every day from life threatening to resolving domestic disputes. They forever have a family in blue and will always share each other’s pain and satisfactions.
Buzawa, S. E. (1984). Determining patrol officer job satisfaction: The role of selected demographic and job-specific attitudes. Criminology, 22, 61-81. Gutahun, S., Sims, B., & Hummer, D. (2008). Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment Among Probation and Parole Officers: A Case Study. PoliceOne, (). Police Communication: Why Does it Matter?. (June 2008). Retrieved from http://www.natcom.org/CommCurrentsArticle.aspx?id=886 Stewart, S. (2011, March). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Effect on Law Enforcement. Camp Robinson Police Department,