Life After the JOB! By Joseph Pangaro (Ret.) My brother and sister officers: Our career is a calling not a job. Our career is also changing and evolving every day. The demands put on you are totally different than cops who came before you, as are the dangers you face. Are you planning for a life after the job?
I want to take a minute to offer some advice from a guy who retired five years ago. First, I miss the work and the people I worked with, this is an almost universal reaction from those who retire. A career in law enforcement is unique in that we become the career to many degrees; it is our identity and our passion. The reality is that the time we serve on the job goes by very quickly- days drag but years fly by.
Before you know it, you will begin your countdown- 3 years to go, 2 years to go, 1 year to go- Freedom!
Then what?
Many of us think we will just go off into the sunset, collect the pension and enjoy every day. For some that is true, but for most of us we are relatively young when we get out, so we will want and need to do something other than tend the garden or go to the beach, and some of us have colleges to pay for and can’t stop.
I have spoken to many officers who believe they will get a cushy job with an insurance company or as a director of security for a company or a school district- not always correct. There are a lot of us out here, and those great retirement second careers are far and few between. Many cops found out the hard way that they are back to the pre-police career point, looking for something they can do that will pay a reasonable salary and matches their interests. Many will have to settle for positions less desirable than they imagined. Unless you begin planning now!
I started making my plans in 2006, a full 9 years before I retired. I always wanted to be a writer and I thought I had some things to say. So, I started writing, I offered my articles to magazines, newspapers and other publications. I decided I also wanted to be a police trainer, so I got myself certified to teach in the police academies and started writing police training courses.
This nine-year head start served me well. I honed my craft, got some articles published, including NJ Blue Now, known today as “The Blue Magazine.” I also published in NJ Cops, The FBI magazine, Autism Parenting magazine and many others. I have written a weekly column for the “Coaster” a local 15K distribution newspaper in Asbury Park, New Jersey since 2009, which helped me really develop my voice as a writer.
In 2009 I started “Pangaro Training.” I started with what I knew- interview and interrogation, crisis de-escalation, and narcotics investigations. I was blessed to have thousands of cops come to my training since then and I have helped our brother and sister officers enhance their skills and advance their careers, a very satisfying feeling it is, indeed. That company has now been merged with a larger organization and is now providing training nationwide!
After retirement in 2013, I got a position as the director of school security for a large district in central New Jersey. This was made possible because of steps I took before I retired, I got more education by going back to college, I took whatever courses I could to make my skills desirable in the private sector and I conducted public speaking engagements along with my writing and training to build a base of support. I learned from a lot of successful people, including Daniel Del Valle, publisher of The Blue Magazine, how to push ahead with an idea and work it with all my energy to be successful and so far, it has been a successful experience.
These are the points I want you to understand: There is nothing special about me, I just picked my head up above the crowd and looked around and made decisions about what was in front of me as well as what was down the road; you can do it as well no matter what you want to do.
As my success grew, it allowed me to do other things I enjoy. I now have a daily radio show on the America Out Loud radio network called “Chasing Justice.” It runs every day at 12 noon and can be found at I love talking about police work, societal justice and cold cases. Along with the training, it keeps me involved in our career.
In September 2018 I was approached by the network and asked to create a TV show about school security, which we did. It’s called “Hope is NOT a Tactic” and runs once a week on the network on over 15 social media platforms in all 50 states and 168 countries! You can find it at
The police career gave me these options because I sought out the opportunities and developed the skills needed to bring value to the marketplace, which is what life after the job is all about. The private sector is all about value for the dollar. If you want to have an awesome adventure after the police career comes to an end, start your plan now, no matter what it is.
If you want to build, get licensed now and do small jobs, build your reputation, get an advanced degree, a teaching certificate or other licensing to do what you are aiming for. My message is clear; don’t leave your life to chance-plan for it and then go for it. As law enforcement people, we have gained some great skills. Figure out how to use those skills in the private sector and go for it.
Come visit me at our training classes, read my articles, listen to my radio show, and watch the TV show because I’m not slowing down. You, too, can make the most of life after the job. Imagine it and do it.
Let me know what you think Email: Lt. Joseph Pangaro retired after serving 27 years at a police department in Monmouth County, NJ, having served as the Lead Training Officer. Pangaro is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickenson University’s Certified Public Managers Program (CPM). He’s a newspaper columnist who writes about the rigors and joys in law enforcement. Joseph Pangaro is the CEO and President of Pangaro Training and Management, and Pangaro Global Training, an online training company. Email Lt. Pangaro: or Twitter: @Pangarotraining