2 answers

How do you handle conflict surrounding the job?

Updated Fresno, California

I am in the application process for a couple of different law enforcement agencies. I still live at home and have family members who are current or retired law enforcement. I have tried being open about the process and how it will work after I graduate from academy, but there is no way I'm changing their mind on not liking the idea (which I completely understand, as a good parent will always worry). Do you have advice on dealing with this conflict when it occurs? Or even on the job, how do you deal with conflict at home? #criminal-justice #law-enforcement #police #conflict #law #police-academy #advice

2 answers

Kim’s Answer

Updated San Antonio, Texas


You cannot "completely" understand your family's concerns until after you become an officer. You are about to be exposed to people who live on the margins of society, and no amount of training can fully prepare you for this. It's not simply a belief that you will get physically hurt, but also about how it changes you as a person.

But, since it is your choice, they should be supportive of you, even if they do not agree. They should no longer be trying to talk you out of it, but rather, encouraging you. In fact, many departments will talk to friends, family, neighbors, school teachers, etc as part of the background investigation. If they learn that your immediate family is not supportive of your decision, it could adversely influence their decision to hire you - especially since you live in the same house with those who are not supportive, and will be seeing them every day. I suggest you have this discussion with your family right now, in a mature way. You need their support!

As to conflict at home after you start working - you will need to learn to "compartmentalize." Think about work when at work, and home when at home. You cannot be preoccupied with personal problems while on patrol - it will cause you to make mistakes, not see/hear something important, make bad decisions, etc. If you have children, you will need to have it set up to where someone else can pick them up from daycare/school if they are sick. It's all about having a plan for how to deal with things at home so they don't require your attention. Don't get me wrong - if your Mom has a heart attack and goes to the hospital, obviously you are going to go. It's the little things that need to be dealt with - and some people have lots more little things than others!

During the applicant processing stage, you may be asked how you deal with stress. This is an important question. People who do not recognize when they are stressed, or who internalize it rather than dealing with it, are not considered good police candidates. Since you are engaged in weekly training program right now, that sort of activity is something you should continue - physical activity helps to reduce stress. Alcohol is not the answer, and, they will want to know about your drinking habits as well. (Do not lie about anything - remember, they are going to talk to others about you.) Exercise, meditation, gardening, building model railroad layouts, (hobbies) etc are all good stress relievers.

It's cool that you want to be a cop. I wish you the best in your career! Feel free to contact me if you have additional questions.


Kim, Thank you! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer and give me some help. It isn't major conflict. We have gotten to the point where they do support me. It is more that they prefer my first choice and second backup, and don't care so much for my first backup. But it doesn't stop them from helping me do what needs to be done for it either. I also enjoy fitness and a handful of other hobbies, and I'm not a big fan of alcohol. I actually think I over explain things for my background because I don't want it to seem like I'm trying to hide anything. Thanks again! Cheyenne

Robert’s Answer

Updated California, California

Hi Cheyenne,

Congratulations on taking the first steps toward a very rewarding career! I guess the big question I would have is why your family members are not supportive of your decision to become a Police Officer. Are they afraid of the current atmosphere? Are they concerned about your ability to carry out your duties? Do they not like the agencies you chose? Or is it something else? I've been a background investigator for many years and definitely have met many parents and relatives of prospective Police Officers in my time. Most of the major concerns center around safety and dealing with all the nefarious characters out there. I have yet to meet a family that completely puts the thumbs down on a Police Officer applicant, but I do understand their concerns.

Don't give up on talking about your career choice as it is your choice to make. Just because you're getting negative feedback, don't tune your family out. Be a good listener and listen to what people are saying as opposed to listening to respond. When push comes to shove, especially after a critical incident, you'll definitely need their support. But, do your research and make sure you understand what the job entails. Like Kim, I'm wondering if you've talked to other law enforcement officers at the agencies you've chosen. Have you gone on ride-a-longs? Have you talked to your college instructors? There are so many good sources of information out there that can help you on your journey.

As Kim says, you have to try to compartmentalize your feelings and not take family problems to work and vice versa. Your head has to be in the game in both places. I always found it good to de-stress by working out, or taking a walk or talking to friends. There's also no shame in talking to a professional...been there done that after a critical incident or two. The job can really adversely affect your family life if you let it. Again, be a good listener and don't take anything personally, especially on the street. My golden rules were to always do the right thing for the right reason and to treat people with respect.

Who knows, as you continue on your career path, you family may warm to the idea?

I hope this helps. If you need further advice, feel free to contact me also.


Robert recommends the following next steps:

  • Do your research and really get to know what the job entails.
  • Talk to your family about what you've learned.