Regulars readers of my articles may have wondered where my brother, Sergeant Young, has run off to after providing us with a few excellent posts on life behind the badge.
Two months ago he did what for many police officers is nearly unimaginable. He laid down his badge and walked away just eight years shy of retirement. He did this completely on his own for no other reason than he recognized what it was costing him to stay. He sent me his story to share with you and I am honored to do so. Any of you who have struggled hard with the issue of career change will find much to think about here.
There is a saying I have grown fond of. It is not my own but I use it from time to time. The saying goes that you can’t look into the void without the void looking into you.
Early on I wrote about how it is difficult to be both he and it, how it was difficult to find balance as a Police Officer. As time went on, I came to realize I was paid to fixate on the negative. My job was not only to be aware that bad things happen and to respond to those bad things, my job was to go out and look for it. After a while you get so good at it that you see it everywhere, all the time. This, among other things, can make you angry.
I was very angry.
I consider myself to be fairly introspective. I was aware I was angry but I had it pretty well under control, at least from my point of view. I had been out in the field for almost thirteen years; thirteen years of the same crap. I saw the pattern that has developed in modern law enforcement. Excellence is expected as the norm. The only time you ever hear anything is when you don’t meet that expectation. Sound familiar?
I had been working for a small department for eleven of those thirteen years. During that entire time we were under-manned and under-equipped. The building we operated in should have been condemned. The roof leaked and there was mold. There was no such thing as air exchange. Air exchange becomes real important when you have to walk past the jail cells to get in and out of the building, especially when every damn one of the prisoners seems to have a bad case of athlete’s foot; and we take their shoes from them. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.