That’s my response to the results of our survey that asked this question of law enforcement officers: Would you recommend law enforcement as a profession to a son or daughter?
Over 3,400 officers responded and a whopping 81% said that they would not! Again—wow! In no way did any of us at Calibre Press predict such a result. Worst-case scenario I said as we posted the survey: 50/50. But, what I really thought was 70/30 with the 70 being on the side of recommending. Boy, was I wrong!
I wrote a book entitled Arresting Communication and at seminars when a young officer, new to law enforcement, asks for a signature I always write on the inside cover “Welcome to the world’s greatest profession!” And I mean it every single time I write it—still do.
I’ve been in the cop world for over 30 years and I believe this is the noblest of noble professions.
What we do, day-in and day-out is something unique. It’s dangerous, fun, sad, joyful, scary, disheartening, devastating … We can be bored, terrified, angry, humored, aghast, heroes and the enemy all in one 8–12-hour shift.
We make mistakes, say the wrong things and—on rare occasion, statistically—dishonor our uniforms. But we are the ones who show up when those calling can’t control their own lives. We respond when people are victims and beg for help. We hold those victims while they implode and we cry when we get home. We run toward the gunfire while everyone else is fleeing in the opposite direction.
In other words: We make a difference! A real tangible difference to real people when it matters most!
The tests to join our profession are difficult, long, and tedious. The training is more difficult than most imagine. It’s months long and involves psychological tests, intense studying, memorization, physical fitness preparation and the understanding of case law that needs to be applied during incredible stress in the blink of an eye. Oh, and the slightest hesitation or foible might have catastrophic consequences.
Which means this: We need the best and the brightest!
However, law enforcement is in the cross hairs right now. It’s misunderstood by people who don’t even know that they know next to nothing about the profession. Yet they wax poetically about what a police officer should have done, shouldn’t have done, why they did something, or why they didn’t …
They make blanket stupid statements about an officer’s motivation and intent. They know nothing about the complexities of the job, yet with the 20/20 vision of hindsight they criticize and condemn from the comfort of a T.V. studio or their blogger’s chair.
They make up—invent—stats and facts that don’t exist to advance an agenda and or expound a belief that’s thoroughly and fundamentally flawed. In short, they demonize everyone in this profession.
And they demand change. Hire better-trained, ethically enhanced, spiritually spotless people of every race, ethnicity and color, all with the best of intentions and superior intellectual aptitudes.
But who is going to want to join law enforcement today? And who currently in the profession is going to advocate it as a career? My fear: Not many, and our survey supports that.
Why do more than 80% of our respondent officers say they would not, today, encourage a son or daughter to become a cop? Well the answers are found in our follow up question that listed a variety of reasons. Not limiting them to just one, here are the results:
- Public lack of respect for the profession: 86%
- Poor pay and/or benefits: 39%
- Dangerous: 40%
- The duties of the job have changed for the worse: 57.00%
- Media and/or political cynicism: 79%
- Lack of department/professional support: 53%
Our next question was particularly interesting: Would you have been more or less likely to recommend this profession five years ago?
The result: A whopping 70% said that they would have been more likely to recommend a loved one join five years ago.
The naysayers and cop-haters won’t care or might even applaud that the legacies of law enforcement families will finally end with the current generation. To the haters, this generation of cops is a woeful, corrupt, violent bunch at odds with the populace they are paid to serve and protect. Good riddance.
Yes the clueless will say that, but what else might happen? Will any of them—those who know it all—join?
Note that the Number One reason officers wouldn’t recommend the profession to a child is public lack of respect for the profession (86%).
So, who would be drawn to a profession that—according to many in the mainstream media—is filled with immoral, unethical, crooked and corrupt militarized thugs who inflict an “epidemic of violence on citizens” and participate in “genocidal racism”?
That’s not a job description that normally attracts people with honorable motives. As a friend put it when he heard about the results of our survey: “You think the smartest black and Latino men and women are going to flock to this profession? These cop haters are creating a worst-case scenario for us—and for themselves.”
I’ve cited the stats in other articles and they are incontrovertible, but let’s stay on point. What will be the fallout of demonizing this noble profession over and over in the mass media? The pundits who demean and disparage law enforcement are the same ones who demand change and better candidates.
So where are we going to get them? If the families who have for generations dedicated their lives to public service won’t advocate the profession, who will?
I’m curious to see if these opinions cited in our survey translate into the real world. I know for a fact that people who were considering the profession have changed their minds and are looking to other careers. Officers in our seminars tell us that they’re “done”: disheartened and retiring early. They warn young people to do something else.
I was talking to my friend who believes that the pendulum will swing back and I hope he’s right. If it doesn’t, what will the future look like? Who will step up?
As Edmund Burke famously said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Doing nothing may be the final result of disparaging those do the hard work of doing good. And that would be tragic for our society.