Success in Retirement - Retirement - who me? By James F. Ford, Jr., Ph.D.

Corporate Security, Police Chief in another community, Campus Police Director, Radio DJ, Ballroom Dancing Instructor, Nursing, Coaching, PGA Teacher, Adjunct Professor, Construction, Range Officer, Process Server, Paramedic, Real Estate Agent, Executive Protection, Insurance Investigator, Substitute School Teacher, Town Manager, Forensic Hypnotist, Campus Security, Driving Instructor, and Mobile Pole Dancing Cleaner. Believe it or not, these are a few of the many employment opportunities awaiting you when you retire, or you could just sit home and do nothing.

The positions listed above were obtained from a two-day survey conducted on retired law enforcement officers. Are you ready for retirement? Have you thought about what you might want to do? How have you prepared yourself? I am not referring to the New Jersey Civil Service or the New Jersey State Pension Board holding seminars to prepare you. I’m talking about a year or so before you retire from the job. Are you going to be one of those people who cannot leave the job and go visit the station/headquarters every day for coffee with the guys? Don’t forget you couldn’t wait to get out of there, remember? I worked with an officer who from my first day on the job said to me, don’t stand in my way when my times comes to retire. Guess what? He stayed longer than 25 years. Statistics in the past have shown that police officers were usually given a life expectancy of five years past their retirement. Don’t become another statistic.

Today, officers are retiring at a young age and some aspire for another career. Maybe your department sent you to the Certified Public Managers Courses or the FBI Academy. Why not use those skills and education that you have acquired over the years? Think about some of the in-depth specialized courses you have attended. Perhaps you took Crash I, II. Reconstruction Expert, DRE School, or maybe forensic accounting courses? You are valuable to the private sector. Over your 25 or more years, you have acquired more knowledge and experience than the average citizen has.

I’m sure we all can agree that law enforcement is (especially patrol) for younger officers. Do you really want to work shift work in your 50s or beyond? We have many officers who are in great physical condition regardless of their age because they work at it. What is often difficult to measure is the toll “the job” takes on us psychologically. How many sexual assault or child abuse cases do you have to investigate before it really affects you and your home life? Many of you are running from call to call with hardly any downtime. You’ve been working at this pace for years and years and then all of a sudden that comes to an end. How many Jerry Springer shows or other talk shows can you possibly watch? For the officers who aren’t running from call to call, you still are anticipating calls coming in and how to handle them in the most efficient productive manner - it doesn’t end.

Please realize that you too can have another career after your stellar work in law enforcement. In your last few years on the job, think about what you want to do when you do retire. If you want to pump gas or work part-time at some convenience store, there is nothing wrong with it. Just do something. Don’t sit home and do nothing.

As police officers, we are called upon to make life-changing decisions for so many but often neglect ourselves. Healthwise, one of the worst decisions to make is to retire and do absolutely NOTHING! Before I retired, I became an adjunct at the College of Saint Elizabeth teaching Criminal Justice. My first class was the best and I knew this was for me. This was my opportunity to share my own experience and education with adult students who had no clue about the criminal justice system except what they saw on “Law & Order.” They really did think that most cases were solved in 45 minutes and that court lasted about 15 minutes!

I soon discovered that in order to teach full-time at a four-year college/university I would need a doctorate degree. Four and half years later, I earned my Ph.D. and I enjoy every day. I feel blessed to have another career. You can too! Do something you love and stop stressing!

Contact Professor Dr. Jim Ford at the College of Saint Elizabeth for more information. Dr. Ford can be reached at or (973) 290-4324. It should be noted that CSE’s Graduate Program in Criminal Justice is ranked 14th in the country by U.S. News and World Ranking.