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I am interested in possibly exploring a career in Law enforcement. And I wanted to know, how might your life have changed because of this particular career choice? For example: Would you say you are now more protected as an individual based on your skills and training? Or would you say your life is more dangerous and unsafe because of your work?

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James’s Answer

Josiah,

I have worked in Retail Loss Prevention, Ecommerce Fraud Analysis, and Federal Corrections. All of these were challenging in their own ways. They can also be, as I'm sure you've heard, incredibly rewarding. The thing to remember about Law Enforcement at the beginning is to not be discouraged. Hiring processes can take an extended period of time in order for all the proper backgrounds to be run properly.

As for your specific questions. I always feel like there is a possibility of danger in this profession. You have to be on your toes at all times. It does give you comprehensive training on how to protect yourself and that adds a little bit of confidence not only in how you carry yourself in the workplace, but also off-duty.

I do Corrections in the Marine Corps, and another job I perform is as a Martial Arts Instructor. This gave me even more training in how to approach and deescalate situations.
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Kim’s Answer

Josiah,
I retired from law enforcement 13 years ago. The personal changes you experience in this job vary over time. For example, many rookies are idealistic and want to improve the world for the better. And that is good. But then things start to happen. The public judges you by the uniform you wear, and sometimes they don't even give you a chance to speak before they start treating you with disrespect. Then there's things like the District Attorney's office taking your felony arrest and just charging the person with misdemeanor criminal trespass. And this is only two examples, of things you will encounter, that will start to change how you view society, and the criminal justice system.

Other things will happen. You will work odd hours. It will be hard to meet up with family and friends who don't work strange hours, and sometimes you gradually drift apart. More and more, your friends outside of work will be other police officers. You will find you are never truly "off -duty." For, wherever you go, you are constantly looking people over, looking for suspicious activities, being aware of your surroundings- where's the nearest cover, where are the exits? And, you will do it without realizing you are doing it.

What gives you the sense of safety while on patrol isn't just your own skills - it's that of the team. You know that no matter what you get into, another officer will be there really quick, no matter how many policies and procedures they have to violate driving through downtown streets at 80 mph.

So, having been out of the job for a few years now, the biggest thing I see that would probably keep me away from it is the idea of the body cams. And I say that because, quite honestly, there are times you do things that aren't quite by the book. And, I'm not talking about use of force. I'm talking about letting teens dump out their beer, or marijuana, for example. But, the body cams are also there to protect you from false allegations. Overall, I'd have to say that the skills I acquired outweighed any sort of feeling like I had a target on my back.

The current environment is going to make it difficult, in certain cities. Not all cities are that way. And there are other places you can work, such as game warden, campus police, etc. We still need good people in law enforcement. In fact, we need them now more than ever before. If you go into law enforcement, you will be trained on how to deal with those situations. You will also be trained on de-escalation techniques - trying to calm things down rather than adding fuel to the fire. I will say in my 25 years on the force, I never got in a real fight (only a few light scuffles). I was known for taking my time with people and always treating them with respect. It helped a lot.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions!

Thank you for the detailed response Josiah Y.

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