On the Job … Why it’s Worth It
By Lt. Anthony Espino
Being a police officer can be a rewarding job with many benefits, but it also comes with many challenges. The profession has changed in so many ways. In many regards, police agencies are a mirror of our beliefs and values as a society.
Our profession is held to a higher standard today compared to our predecessors. Think about it back in the 1950s, police officers knew their beat and those who were the troublemakers by name. More often than not, they dealt out justice as they felt it was needed. Argue with them, and two things were guaranteed, a beating by the officer and another when they got home and told their parents what had happened. Those cops of yesteryear would never make it in today’s society.
Today’s police force has become publicly accountable, subject to the rule of law and respectful of human dignity irrespective of whether or not they are treated the same way. Whatever course of action we take, we’re scrutinized, right or wrong, and often the media make us look like the bad guys. External pressures have increased tenfold from even fifty years ago. However, this has modernized our police forces and increased community trust and accountability.
Protecting the community and making a better environment for others to live in was a big reason why I chose to be a police officer. The police business is a tough one. There are days you deal with the scum of the earth and see the inhumanity that most people never see and would never understand. However, there isn’t anything more satisfying about police work than stopping a crime in progress or arresting someone who has victimized an innocent person. Rolling up on a burglary that is otherwise not yet reported, or any number of other crimes of the sort is an amazingly gratifying experience. Placing handcuffs on a suspect of a brutal crime is even better.
We encounter all walks of life, and it doesn’t matter what socioeconomic category, race, color, or creed we meet, each interaction is unique. To me, every day is different, and that's what keeps me coming back for more. Like many of my brothers and sisters in blue, I’m willing to make sacrifices, work odd hours, weekends and holidays because I believe in our profession and our purpose.
Being a police officer takes a lot of commitment, dedication and sacrifice. It’s not for everyone. No one should enter into the job with selfish motivations, because they will most likely be disappointed. Although there are negatives to the job, the benefits by far outweigh the detriments.
I love my job and would never trade it for another. It's a great job as long as you can get past the fact that you’re not going to save the world every day. Unfortunately, there are also some cops out there who show up for a paycheck or think they are above the law. They give our profession a bad name, but we should not focus on the few bad apples, rather the overwhelming number of good officers who do this job with respect and admiration.
This profession will expose you to see inhumanity at its worst, and people at their lowest. We often encounter people who are down and out, addicted to drugs, destitute, emotionally unstable, suicidal, violent and basically at the lowest point in their lives. One of the most rewarding and satisfying aspects of being a police officer is the unique opportunity to help these people get out of a bad situation, get back on their feet and ultimately turn their lives around. Millions of acts of kindness are committed each year by police officers, and millions more are changed for the better by the compassion and dedication of police officers who are committed to helping those people who need their help the most.
I’ve had many people thank me over the years for my service. It is indeed the most rewarding experience when people remember you for what you’ve done. Being able to help is what being a police officer is all about. Always remember that and carry it with you through your career.