Is Anyone Willing or Even Capable of Serving Anymore?

July 31, 2023

By Jim Glennon

A quote attributed to Plato, is as follows: “It does not matter if the cobblers and masons fail to do their jobs well, but if the guardians fail, the democracy will crumble.”

The Guardians, our protectors, in the United States, are those who serve in the military and law enforcement professions. People we have needed and counted on since the country’s inception.

From the lens of today, 2023, is Plato’s warning of the crumble, imminent?

I love history. I read it, study it, am amazed by it. I’m especially drawn to the stories about those who put themselves second. Who willingly put their lives at risk. Who are driven to support principles, that to them matter so much, that they devote their lives to the protection of others.

My wife always asks me, “Why do you watch so many war movies, with all the shooting and death?”

“Sacrifice,” is my quick reply. But it is much more than that. The camaraderie among a group of people with like-minded values is another reason. Human beings pushing themselves beyond both their physical and emotional limits is still another. The literal love they have for a greater good. Their drive to be a safeguard for our way of life and be a shield that protects the innocents from the world’s evils. All of those impact me on an emotional level.

I’ve watched Band of Brothers dozens of times. Read most of the books. Met several of the actual men who were part of that company.

I’ve read about D-Day, Pearl Harbor, the American Revolution, etc.

I’m always amazed that these men (and women, who are often overlooked) sacrificed, dropped everything, jeopardized everything and risked their lives in order to preserve our world and protect the populace as a whole.

And though we’ve always needed and relied on them, we’ve also taken them for granted. Worse, too often, we’ve abandoned them when their fight has been won, when their tours have been completed.

Perhaps, it’s simply the taking of their collective sacrifices for granted. Out of sight out of mind so to speak.

Other times the abandonment can be motivated by political opportunity.

Often it’s the optics of the struggle, the fight. Battling evil and the criminal minded is an ugly business. It’s witnessing a cause of discomfort for the unprepared and fragile minded masses.

Whatever the reason, from the beginning of the Republic, this has been a consistently sad reality.

Dismissing the sacrifice of those who guard and protect.

What About Today?

Our society has always assumed – as in we never actually think about it – that there will always be people to fill the Guardian role, defend our democratic principles and be the protectors of those who need protection.

It is taken for granted that “somebody will show up and handle the crisis.”

Somebody will show up and handle…

In 2020 I wrote an article titled, What’s It Going to Look Like When Police Protection Dries Up?

In it I asked the pertinent question, “What if no one was willing to answer the call anymore?”

What if there were no Guardians? What would happen to our society?

Three years ago, those questions bordered on the hypothetical.

Today, those questions are pointed, calculated, necessary and beyond alarming.

It’s alarming because it goes beyond finding those “willing” to serve, which is a major problem. The military and law enforcement are having unprecedented problems filling their ranks. People for a variety of reasons don’t have the motivation to join and serve others anymore.

A survey Calibre Press conducted in 2020 exposed this reality. We found that of the over 10,200 police officer respondents, only 7% would recommend the job as a profession to family members. That is terrifying. I mean if we don’t advocate for the profession, who will?

Now consider the military. Recently the armed services admitted that the “number of military personnel and veterans who would recommend joining the armed forces has dropped in the past two years — a waning enthusiasm that could threaten national security, according to new research…”

As alarming as that lack of advocacy is, another interesting and frightening reality has brought up a new question: How many are even capable of filling the role?

According to a new study from the Pentagon “shows that 77% of young Americans would not qualify for military service without a waiver due to being overweight, using drugs or having mental and physical health problems.”

Seventy-seven percent are not physically qualified!?

I recently had a conversation, one of many throughout the country, about the problem with recruits being physically capable of passing rudimentary physical tests.

Generally, what this Chief of Police told me is summarized here, though obviously not verbatim.

“We had 1,000 take out applications. We had 500 show up for orientation. We had 150 take the written test where 75 passed. Of those 75, only 45 participated in the physical power test. Of the 45 who had to run a mile and a half in less than 12 minutes, bench press 75% of their weight, bend, stretch and drag a dummy, only ten passed! Ten! Then we conducted our drug tests that they know they have to take and five flunked! After the background, one was left, and he decided not to join because he didn’t want to work night shifts.”

I spoke to a training director of a major Midwest city just last month. She told me that ten years ago they would have two academy classes running simultaneously with about 65-75 recruits in each class. The dropout rate was about 5%.

In 2023?

They began their one academy class with 20 recruits and within ten weeks, only 9 were still in the course. Some were forced out, but most quit. Some had their mothers drop off their gear without any warning or explanation.

I talked to another training director and she told me that one recruit showed up to the first day of the academy with an emotional service cat that he insisted needed to be next to him throughout the four month course.

Old Guy Talking About the Past

When WWII broke out we had citizen soldiers. Drafted civilians with no military training. They went to boot camp. Most, the vast majority, were able to physically handle the training.


Because they were naturally in physical shape.

As throughout all of human history, they played outside for 8, 10, 12 hours a day between the ages of 7-13. They learned how to create games, make up rules, build stuff, argue and resolve conflict with zero assistance from mom and dad.

They all played sports in high school, most multiple sports. Then, they all had part-time jobs.

They started doing some type of work to earn money at 10, 11, 12 years of age. Sometimes younger.

That type of adolescent behavior continued through the 1980s.

If you’re over 40, think about the age you were when you did anything to earn money. Paper route, cutting grass, shoveling snow, babysitting, caddying, etc. How old were you? 12?

When I was in high school virtually everyone I knew had some type of part time job. Every single one of my college friends worked their way through those four years.


Every time I bring up this issue, anywhere to anyone, family, friends, in a classroom, I know that some, including my own kids, roll their eyes because, “The old guy’s gonna tell a story about, what it was like when he was a kid.”

I get it. I did the same to my dad.


What is going on?

According to the CDC the average adult in the U.S. is 15 pounds heavier than in 1990.

In 1970, 12% of the population was considered obese. By 2016, that number rose to 37% based on the exact same criteria.

Teenagers play less sports, walk less, ride their bikes less, converse less, create less, build stuff less and sit on their collective buttocks staring at screens for, according to a 2023 study, 7.5 hours every single day!

They are, overall, and I know I am generalizing, certainly less autonomous than any prior generation by a significant amount.

According to Common Sense Media, 42 percent of kids have a phone by age 10. By age 12, it’s 71 percent. By 14, it’s 91 percent. So they are, essentially, never out of contact with everyone in their lives for any moment of time.

They need something, feel something, desire something, their brains are programmed to push a button that will serve to satisfy.

Want to be emotionally validated? Go to social media, call mom, call a friend.

For those born after 1995, at what age do they seek out their first form of payment for a task completed? 12, 14, 16, 18, 21?

Do they babysit? Cut grass? Shovel snow? Caddy? Get up at 5am and deliver newspapers and then once a month walk the neighborhoods collecting money from argumentative adults?

We had a decent amount of snow one day last winter. I went out with my snow blower and hit the driveway. Then, it snowed a couple of more inches. The snow was flaky, light. No big deal.

Two kids, maybe 12 years old, showed up at the front door of my house snow shovels in hand and asked if they could “do the drive and walk.” I have a pretty long driveway. I asked them how much they would charge. One of these kids said, “Well, let us do it and you pay what you think it is worth, maybe ten dollars?”

I said “Deal.”

They spent no more than 30 minutes on the drive, did a great job.

I gave them $20, a piece. My wife got mad at me for being cheap and handed them another $10 each.

My point?

Those are two kids who will make something of themselves. They took the initiative, a rarity today, saw and seized an opportunity to make money, dealt with adults – on their own – bargained, delivered, and were rewarded.


Today, we are hiring some to be police officers who have never, ever had any type of job. I asked an applicant if he ever received a W2 and this college graduate responded with, “What’s that?”

So, what are we doing as a profession and a society to meet the critical need of attracting and hiring Guardians?

Are we rethinking the profession, training, salaries?

Are we championing those who show initiative at an early age?

Are we, collectively and as a political class, honoring and advocating for those who are members of the military and law enforcement?

In way too many corridors of society we are not.


I ranted somewhat, but here are my points.

The law enforcement profession is complicated and eclectic in nature. We have to be in shape for the rare times we need our physical beings to handle the dangerous, the noncompliant, the violent.

That said, the profession is actually a human behavior business. We exist because of other people’s behavior which means, we have to be specialists in that field.

I took four years of psychology in college, earned a BA. But I also worked as a bartender for three years while in school. I’ve said this countless times; I learned more about psychology, human nature, reading people and conflict resolution behind that bar than in the four years I was taking psych courses.

So, we need people with people skills. And you can only acquire said skills from having a lot of experience with other people! People who are different, from different cultures, who are experiencing angst and confusion, who look at the world differently than you. Again, proficiency in the human behavior field is attained from dealing with human behavior, which implies we desire people who spend most of their time off their asses!

Finally, we need Guardians. Always have, always will.

The world is not what it was just a few short years ago. Society and the Guardian professions have to rethink who they are and how to attract and cultivate choice candidates.

Note I said society has to be involved. For the path we currently walk as a societal collective will result in not only less people willing to be Guardians, but less people capable of the challenge.

This is playing out in real time.


Right now.

Where will we be in ten years if nothing changes, and the reality ignored?


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  1. Aikijedi

    Title: The United States of America: A Republic, Not a Democracy

    I write this article to clarify the distinction between a republic and a democracy and provide evidence to support the argument that the United States of America operates as a republic rather than a direct democracy. While the terms “republic” and “democracy” are often used interchangeably, a close examination of the U.S. government’s structure, principles, and historical context reveals its republican foundation. This paper explores key elements such as the separation of powers, representative system, and the role of the Constitution in affirming the republic’s nature.

    The United States of America, often referred to as a democracy, is a nation founded on principles that emphasize a republican form of governance. The distinction between a republic and a democracy lies in the delegation of authority and decision-making processes. A republic is characterized by elected representatives who act on behalf of the people, while a democracy involves direct participation by citizens in the decision-making process. This paper aims to shed light on the United States’ republican framework and dispel the misconception of it being a pure democracy.

    I. The Founding Fathers’ Intentions:
    The Founding Fathers of the United States established a government structure based on the principles of republicanism. The Constitution and its framers emphasized a system of checks and balances, where power is divided among three branches of government: the legislative, executive, and judicial. This separation of powers ensures that no single entity holds complete control and serves as a safeguard against tyranny.

    II. Representative System:
    The heart of the U.S. government lies in its representative system. Citizens elect officials to represent their interests at various levels of government, from local municipalities to the federal Congress. These representatives make decisions on behalf of their constituents, promoting efficiency in governing a vast and diverse nation.

    III. Electoral College:
    The Electoral College, which plays a pivotal role in the election of the President, further demonstrates the United States’ republican nature. Rather than relying solely on a popular vote, the Electoral College provides a system where states’ interests are taken into account, preserving the balance between populous and less populous regions.

    IV. The Rule of Law and the Constitution:
    A critical aspect of the U.S. republic is the supremacy of the Constitution. It serves as the foundation for the nation’s legal framework, ensuring that the government operates within the bounds of established laws and principles. Amendments to the Constitution reflect the evolving needs of society while maintaining the republic’s core values.

    V. State Sovereignty:
    The United States’ federal system acknowledges the sovereignty of individual states, each with its own government and laws. This further reinforces the republic’s decentralized structure and distinguishes it from a pure democracy.

    In conclusion, the United States of America is undeniably a republic and not a direct democracy. The Founding Fathers designed a system based on the principles of representative government, the rule of law, and the division of power, all of which contribute to the nation’s republican character. Understanding the distinction between a republic and a democracy is essential to appreciate the unique and enduring framework that shapes the United States’ governance.

    People who keep using “Democracy” to describe the United States of America are causing a great disservice to our great republic.
    If you doubt this, recite the “Pledge of Allegiance”

    • Ted Hughs

      Why would anybody want to serve anymore, especially in law enforcement? You get no support from management, no support from community or government. One wrong thing and your dead, in jail or lose everything and on top of that most likely you are getting paid garbage. 12hr shifts, work all holidays, miss your kids stuff…no way

      • Horace Meeley

        Worse, you have to put up with disrespectful assholes, who have no clue how to behave in public. And worse, you can’t rebuke them. Our sleazeball politicians have told the police that they have to put up with this crap.

  2. David Porter

    This article is poignant and timely as it asks several questions and causes us to rethink how we hire, the standards we set as well as those we walk away from, the reality of the world we live and work in at current and the expectations of the public as well as our own. First, we should not compromise on our hiring standards. Our minimum age in my opinion, should be 21 years of age as our life experience, educational and work history will differ greatly between the ages of 19 and 21. Secondly, our physical standards should not change. The physical challenges of our job will never change. There will be those moments where we will need to chase someone on foot, or run up flights of stairs to render aid, or drag if not carry someone to safety no matter how much a jurisdiction waters down its officer contact with the public. Third, you have to have a baseline for hiring to at least attempt to weed out those who will bring shame and harm to the reputation of the profession as what happens in on jurisdiction, affects us all. And fourth, to loosen up on uniform and grooming standards is detrimental to our dealings with the public as all we come into contact with make judgements of us based on what they see first and foremost our appearance. It’s tough enough to be young in our appearance, add looking like an unshaven, long-haired soup sandwich to the mix and our officers will always be starting at a deficit when it comes to dealing with the public. Lastly, eliminating contacts with the public by reducing the need for car stops for various traffic offenses will disallow us to encounter and apprehend the Timothy McVeigh’s of the world. Restore the pride in this honorable calling, support those who accept the calling, give them the training needed according to policy to be successful and they will continue to answer the call!

    • Ed H.

      That’s the absolute truth. Eventually the powers that be will have to face this.

      • West

        The powers that be and caused this will be retired or they continue to kick the can down the road.

        Additionally, it’s not just one mayor or one governor. It’s nearly all of them.

  3. Brad Kline

    First of all even though the media constantly tells us we live in a democracy, and many of our politicians tell us we need to preserve this democracy we do not live in a democracy. The biggest problem we are dealing with today is that most Americans have allowed this mentality to creep in over the last 100 years. We live in a compound republic!

    The very idea that mob rule is the rule of the day is crippling our society. The very idea that tolerance, and acceptance of everyones idea is not acceptable for our government, or society to be preserved. We need to return to the principles of the original constitutional values of liberty. What is liberty you ask? It is Freedom coupled with morality. If there is no idea, or morale value to preserve you lose those that are willing to preserve it. Bring back value, and morality, and a line to be draw, and you will bring back the guardians of the constitutional compound republic!

    • Dan Holliday

      I must be part of the 7%. After 28 years in patrol, my daughter asked recently if I would recommend her getting into law enforcement given the current climate.

      My reply was simple, I told her if good people don’t apply, bad people will. I’m proud to say, she has started the application process.

  4. Mark Gist

    In my opinion, society will face significant challenges in maintaining order and security, which in return will lead to reliance upon militia’s, rogue untrained groups of self-proclaimed guardians be created with their own types of laws and self-imposed court system or worse. Mainly, because a huge populous of citizens will no longer trust or have faith in the federal or local governments to protect the people and have the peoples core interests at heart.

    Until society holds parents, school and college boards, news outlets and social media platforms accountable to common sense and the actual truths, to include the old school belief of the “American Dream”…… I believe this country and others will collapse beyond repair for decades. It will take an extraordinary amount of time to bring this Nation back to normalcy with the backbone of pride, self-worth, and determination to be the best and make a difference for their fellow citizen.

    My beliefs and thoughts on this matter may seem farfetched, but history often repeats itself for the good or bad. The notorious pendulum needs to swing back to the middle and politics must be excused to create and sustain a common ground of teachings to our youth in order to bring us along into great nation with law and order and common sense.

    Thank you

  5. Steve Cherry

    I became a cop in a small Texas town in 1972, and I am currently a part-time officer for a community college PD. Over my 51 years with a badge, I slowly moved into training and teaching, and off the street.
    My full-time job for the last 24 years has been the criminal justice instructor at a local high school.
    All that being said, I see, on a daily basis, perfect examples of what your article reveals: (1) Most of my students do not have a clue about what “being a cop” really means, and (2) most are not physically able to do that job. I do my best to make them see that it is certainly possible, but they will have to WORK at it.
    On a brighter note, in my 24 years here, I have had over 100 students become law enforcement officers.
    I am proud of them, and hope to have many more join up.

  6. Mike Simmons

    I am the director of a criminal justice training center and I face exactly what you wrote about – every day. You are spot on in your assessment of our present position as a culture. When I first applied to be a police officer in the early 1980s, 300 people showed up. Today, that same agency struggles to get 15 to show up. Further, most students in corrections and law enforcement refuse to pay for the academy themselves. They expect it to be paid for them. Further, our standards for physical fitness have been lowered to allow more people in, because no one was able to meet the previous standards. Also disturbing, though, is the mindset of these potential “guardians.” Not only are they not willing to give their all to the job of being a protector, but they seem to be convinced that they don’t need to put any effort into it. Often, they quit the academy with a shrug of the shoulders and walk away, rather than follow a rule or try harder. It is alarming. Good article.

  7. Johnny Marcella

    Wow! it’s just crazy…….. I am 55 years old and part of that outside ride a bike without a helmet, come in when the street lights came on and drank out of a water hose because we weren’t allowed inside. I graduated High School in 1986. I saw the change of the culture over those 4 years and saw it in the lower classes that graduated after me.
    My youngest daughter is in Basic Training in the Army. They now have prep camps for physical fitness before Basic to help the numbers pass just the minimum standard.
    Like our planet and our species. We are ever evolving. Unfortunately, sometimes one must change or die.
    Have you ever seen the movie Wall e? interesting show on the evolution of humans and planet earth and a Disney Film no less…….
    How can I share this article?
    There isn’t a share feature or tag availability to it.
    I would love permission to share this on Social Media.
    This needs to be out there!!!

    • Calibre Press

      John: Feel free to share this on social media as you see fit. Much appreciated.

  8. Jeffrey

    In order to stem the tide of failure for the applicants, departments have to “dumb down” the standards during the hiring process which reduces the quality of candidates from which to choose. If we want to right this ever sinking ship, society as a whole need only place more value on those who protect and serve and teach that to those being brought up in this world.

  9. Tanya

    Very interesting, great points it speaks to me on Civil participation and the lack of civilians taking part in taking care of there communities. Its like we are on cruise control and whatever is trending becomes the majority rule. However the majority may not know better so we need people who know better and been hear longer to speak up. I appreciate this article. Yes guardians will always be necessary and this articles brings many forms of guardians to perspective. I am Canadian so again civil participation a form of guardianship, participation of people in government and democratic processes.

  10. Robert Aviles

    It goes without saying but you are right in your observations regarding our society. My son for example when he got out of the U.S. Navy he couldn’t wait to get into the police academy so he could work with me his father, and let me say that those two and a half years will always be the proudest in my career. The saddest moment was when he decided that he needed more from a bigger department, and even though that was sad I was so very proud of him. His mother asked me later when we were alone if I thought he would be alright, and my reply was he served 3 tours in Dubai with distinction what do you think. She smiled hugged me and said I worried then too. This same young man did odd jobs for friends and family to make money and when he turned 14 years old he got his first job in the local super market stocking shelves. Three of his closest friends who practically grew up in our home at least that’s how it felt when the wife and I went grocery shopping have also become part of law enforcement. Two additional police officers in different cities and one state trooper. I am very proud of all four of these boys collectively but my son is third generation law enforcement and it makes my chest swell when I look at him as he is the new and improved model.
    I am proud to add that our daughter has given birth to a son and while holding him the other day at just 14 days old I was explaining what the officers were doing on the police show that was on the television not that I would be trying to sway him in anyway.
    My point is I have been in law enforcement for twenty seven years, an academy instructor for the last fourteen of those years. I only regret the time away from my family that the job required but I made sure that they knew that I loved them and made the extra effort to be there on the do or die days. It is our responsibility to help mold the young men and women as they grow up to be whatever they want as long as they desire it and want it so bad as they are willing to work for it, because if we could push a button we would have plenty of officers to go around.

  11. Edward Wezain

    I am now in my mid-60’s. Reading this article was like a walk down memory lane. Our current situation in this country reminds me of the 1993 movie “Demolition Man” with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes? It seems to me we are not far off from that scenario. Unfortunately society is slowly becoming more violent and lawless while those in charge are becoming weaker and meeker in the name of political correctness. Not a good situation for our future.

  12. Anony Mouse

    Notwithstanding societal issues plaguing our country such as children being raised by single mothers, being pumped full of psychiatric drugs, doped out from electronic devices and social media, and glorifying thug culture, here’s a tip for LE agencies struggling to recruit.

    Pay better and give better benefits. Outstandingly better. Not an extra $3 an hour for a shift differential. Not a starting pay bump of $3,000. Much, much better. There’s smart, physically and mentally strong people out there with level heads and backgrounds that would make wonderful law enforcement officers. However, they’re also smart enough to crunch some basic numbers and see that across the board in the country, most LE agencies pay and benefits sentence one to a life of peasantry. The cost of having a decent life has risen to the level that most LE agencies aren’t keeping up with. Why go through all the training, physical fitness requirements, hiring processes, and dangerous shift work only to live like a pauper? Especially so in jurisdictions where the majority of populace hates you and their elected representatives would love to destroy your life for doing your job and to place you in prison.

    These good people aren’t applying. Instead, they’re going on to learn a skilled trade, or to become an airline pilot, or start their own business, because that’s what someone with personal drive must do now in order to have a decent life. Sure, sure, there’s caveats and exceptions, but what I’m writing about is true for the majority of these good younger people. Many in these LE agencies and the entities that control their budgets would say they can’t pay more, they can’t give better benefits, they’re keeping up with surrounding agency’s pay. The collective answer from the good young people is this: “Not my problem, pay me what I know my effort’s worth or I’m moving on to a career that will.”. I mean this politely, I urge any of you who may disagree with this post or those who may be ignorant about the cost of living to do your research into just how exponentially expensive life has gotten for young person of today compared to a young person of 1990 or even 2000.

    • West

      The smart, physically and mentally strong people out there with level heads and backgrounds that would make wonderful law enforcement officers are also capable of working safer jobs. Jobs that don’t send folks to prison for a fentanyl overdose waiting on slow EMS.

      The pay and benefits would need to be very attractive to overcome the job dangers.

  13. Kevin

    Let me start by saying that I have the utmost respect for those who have come before me and those who have paved the way in this profession. But if we can’t take criticism, we will never learn, and we can never stop learning. That being said, you may not like what I am about to write.

    First, Plato was most likely not describing any type of physical guardian, such as LE or Military. He was most likely describing free thinkers. People that do not want to be ruled by an individual. The people that will uphold the principles of a democracy for future generations.

    Second, while I completely agree with recent cadets’ lack of physical fitness, there are still people out there. Just because a small percentage of society are slobs and have moved the needle for society’s average, does not mean there are not physical specimens out there. The right people are out there. Market to them. Offer more money. If the workforce is to be smaller (which it appears it’s going to be for a while), we don’t need warm bodies to fill patrol cars, we need the best. PAY THEM.

    Third, what they lack in physical ability, they make up for in knowledge. Criminals have moved online, yet half of the detectives I have encountered have no idea how to set up a spoof/undercover account to capture EVERYTHING they are doing online. You are encountering a “smarter, not harder” generation. Your generation took 10-15 years to get to a point in this career where working smarter, not harder was the standard. “They haven’t paid their dues yet” is a bulls*** phrase. Just because this generation learned to find an easier way quicker than you did, doesn’t mean they are lazy. You did the hard work for them; they are standing on your shoulders. Appreciate that. The next generation will stand on theirs. And we will continue to grow. It is our job to harness their strengths. It’s also our job to mitigate their weaknesses. The new generation needs actual incentives, they don’t operate on pride. We have ruined pride for them. They need tangible things. Bonuses for physical fitness. Paid time off. SOMETHING!

    Fourth, policing has been and always will be a reflection of our current society. Just because you don’t like where it’s going, doesn’t mean it’s going in the wrong direction. Look elsewhere. Recruit in high schools, have a pathways program. Go to the local gym and scope out talent. Recruit from washed up college athletes. Be creative. If you fish in polluted waters, you’re not going to be happy with the catch.

    I am not Gen Z, but I pride myself in being a capable bridge between Gen Z and Gen Xers. I am part of the generation responsible for raising Gen Z. My salty millennial butt has pretty much raised in this gap of two generations that are polar opposites. We are pessimistic and Nihilistic and have seen enough to no longer think society is going to collapse.

    • West

      How can the police department offer more money? The money comes from the Mayor, County Commissioner, or Governor.

      The police don’t control the salary.

      The police department can try to adjust work policies and procedures. Attempt to make the job duties safer, less stressful, more efficient.

  14. Rick Lallement

    For decades we in law enforcement were more and more frequently being labeled as the problem with society. We’ve been called every name in the book, blamed for being too tough or too weak. Assigned to fix any and everything no one else had time for or a desire to resolve. If you have a problem any problem large or small call 9-1-1 and we come, running.

    I spent my career in what was once one of the most proactive agencies in the Southeast. We were fortunate to have elected Sheriffs who took the job seriously and insured our personnel had the tools and training to serve and protect. Agencies from all over the nation and world often came to us for help, training and expertise. I started seeing the change when we changed Sheriffs in 2008/09. We moved from cop leadership to a politician looking for a steppingstone to his next elected position of incompetence. We started seeing a change in personnel up the chain from the ones you’d follow through the gates of hell to get the job done to some you would not even follow into a 7-11 for a bottle of water.

    Then the quality of new hire transformed from those who looked at the role as their lifelong goal and a career, to those that needed a job for their resumes as a temporary I need a job, Sheriff’s Office has benefits, a take home car and I can work off duty and make a killing until I find a better job. During this time, I was actively involved in the field training program have spent the last 15 years in major case CID. I had returned to the agency after retiring initially with 25 yrs. and venturing out into the private sector where success came easy until the economy went bust and back to the agency I went. This time back in uniform.
    At this stage in my life, I looked at as fun. I had some significant civilian leadership experience now and a new understanding of how to work that into law enforcement. Most of my friends when they heard I was coming back said you’ll be back in “Homicide” in a month, but new Sheriff, new rules. Apparently, he had other plans for the agency.

    I thought whatever, I had not been in a uniform from 1991 through 2004 and thought this could be fun. I ended up on one of the agency’s FTO squads where new recruits come for various phases of their training. For the next 4 years, I can attest maybe one out of five newly crowned deputies fresh out of the academy looked at law enforcement as a career. Most when I asked about their goals for the tenure with the agency were quick to suggest they were just going to spend the limited time allowed on the road before transferring to say “Homicide”. I’d laugh and say best of luck, I worked my way into “Homicide”. Took me 15 years to make that goal, but personally I felt working my way through various lower investigative roles taught me and created a resume for me to be a “Homicide” Detective, but maybe your way smarter than me with your zero years of investigative and life experience.

    As training went on, I began asking newbies when they first got into the passenger seat of my car, one of my most important questions was have you ever been in a fight? Overwhelming response was “never”. Not as a child with a sibling, not in grade school, not in a bar, zip naughta nothing. Most said they weren’t raised to believe in violence. Being a smart ass, I often said you may want to switch from L/E to the FD where they mostly get waived at with all five fingers and really like seeing the big red fire truck with Santa sitting on the hose bed in parades.

    I had some that figured out really quick, sometimes police work requires more than a strict talking to. Sometimes hands on are a fight for your life. Others not so much, they’d do just enough to move onto the next FTO. I’d grade accordingly, document my fears and their performance and was kindly told, we have to move them on unless they decide on their own this job isn’t for them.

    By 2012, I saw I was no longer at the agency I once was proud to say I was part of. The agency had changed the politics was ridiculous and frankly the Sheriff now in power was systematically tearing down the agency from what it once was to a group of only respond to what your dispatched to, do basic proactive policing unless there is a complaint and then do not re-engage. Most of my friends still with the agency were there only to get that last one or two years in and get out. I had enough and walked into HR and said you know, it’s been real, it’s been fun, but time to go again. A few of the non-woke still in HR, looked at me and said good idea, we hate to see you go, but we’re leaving to when we can.

    A new Sheriff was elected after the last one did his best to destroy the agency when he was elected to his next position of incompetence, where he can destroy the what’s left of the County. The newest guy unbelievably is worse than the last one. He has taken wokism to a new level. It’s sad to see a once proactive, well-respected agency take such a drastic fall in this decade. I wish things would have stayed the same and one Sheriff after the other would have just built on what the last ones prior to 2009 had done, but as they say you can’t fix stupid nor woke politicians with personal agendas.

    Unfortunately, there is no end in sight and this new brand of law enforcement reality is what we’re stuck with. The professional backups are in charge now.

  15. Jenn Moreau

    You stated it perfectly: when they have some type of feeling, they hit a button and poof, gratification. There are many studies on the relationship between delayed gratification and success. This and manners is what I believe parents need to teach their kids, if they don’t teach anything else.

    To shift policing back into being just a job, go ahead and get rid of entry requirements, lower the standards, let someone mess up in a serious way for you to then weed them out. To move policing further into the category of a profession, keep your standards, uphold entry requirements, and prevent the hiring of those who could possibly hurt someone. Never lose sight of that – the WHY.
    When I went through a phase after being promoted to Sergeant, of asking myself why, and really thinking about it, I had an “ah ha” moment:

    People are always hollering, “Why won’t someone DO something?” Or, “Why didn’t YOU do something?” Or, “Police don’t do anything!”
    Thinking of when people are attacked in public, and many have the first thought of videoing the incident, but none step in to stop the horror… I came up with this saying that I put in my emails, and I tell to recruits:
    “That no one would do anything is tragic. That someone would do something is amazing. Be amazing.”

    Thousands of officers are amazing every day simply because they do something. You don’t have to be perfect. Just do something to make the world a little better for those living in it.

  16. Rick

    As usual, Jim is spot on with telling it like it is. Long short of it is, we have a crisis moving forward with filling both Military and Civilian First Responder career positions with quality candidates. And more often, we are seeing the results of agencies that have lowered standards in an attempt to fill vacant positions with disastrous results. A while back, I was in a meeting with our local Chief JOP. He ended the meeting on a reality check which applies to sworn and non sworn personnel in the criminal justice system. To summarize, the days of getting enough high performing candidates to fill positions is gone. They are still out there, but not every position will be filled by one. As others here, I came into this career field back at a time when there would be 40-60 applicants for 4 positions. Agencies could afford to be picky with selection. Not the case now, and hasn’t been for a while actually. I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix the problem, or ask the good idea ferry for advice, but moving forward, its only going to get tougher finding great candidates.

    • West

      Or keeping them.

  17. West

    Numbers show a harsh truth. In Georgia, in 2008, we had 58,700 mandated police officers across the state. In 2022 that number dropped to 49,500. Near 10,000 less cops despite massive statewide population growth.

    The State Patrol has near 1980s number of officers on patrol duties. As they also have a shortage of new applicants along with numerous new desk jobs or security type jobs that removed them from patrol. Wonder why car insurance rates are up? Wonder why car fatalities are up?

    I don’t see this changing.

    Policy, procedures, work duties, training, state laws, and benefits all must be looked at. Because, rest assured, the modern job applicants consider everything. Duty and service is not on their list. Duty and service don’t keep you from getting railroaded by a Mayor.


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