Understanding Police Culture:

I’ve spent over twenty-five years in the field of law enforcement and I found it to be a close family type of organization. When one Police Department mourns the loss of an Officer so does the other agencies around the country. This type of police culture is similar to that of the military. I know some people say it’s a thin blue line and that is true. However, that thin blue line metaphor can also be summed up to making quick correct decisions between life and death situations.

Understanding Police Culture

Imagine You’re A Police Officer

However, in order for you to understand the police job and culture, you will have to take a short tour with me. I want you to listen to what I have to say with no distractions and place yourself in their shoes for a few minutes. I want you to imagine that you are the cop and you wear the badge. But you also wear the twenty-pound duty equipment belt around your waist that consists of a gun, holster, handcuffs, mace, baton, taser, and radio.

Reporting For Duty

Your alarm goes off at 5:00 am and you are reporting to work on the day shift. You get out of bed and watch television to catch a glimpse of the morning news to educate yourself on the crimes that occurred while you were sleeping. Afterward, you shower and put on your police uniform.

Now imagine yourself holstering up with all your life-saving equipment around your waist because your life could be in jeopardy throughout our shift.  So follow me closely and lock and load your firearm and continue to stay in character.

Now calmly walk over and kiss your wife who is sound asleep and pray that you will return alive at the end of the day. Afterward, walk into the kid’s bedroom where they are sleeping peacefully.  Can you imagine not seeing your kids again? No, you can’t, so you make a silent routine promise to yourself that you will see them later even though it’s not a 100% guarantee.

Remember this happens each and every day that someone wears the badge. But you haven’t even left your home yet so stay in character for a few more moments. Imagine exiting your driveway and looking at the front of your house with the understanding this could be your very last time. Take note of that awkward feeling in the pit of your stomach right now, it’s just a repeat of yesterday and the day before. But you haven’t even gotten to the precinct yet so let’s continue.

So stay in character and attend your roll call to listen to the criminal activities that occurred on the last shift. However, before the supervisor finished with the morning briefing, the radio dispatcher announces a call of a home invasion with shots fired with the suspects still on the scene and your unit will be responding. Now, what are you thinking? Are you afraid? Do you have doubts about your ability to survive such an encounter with armed suspects? Are you going to see your wife and kids again? Is your life going to be in immediate danger? I’ll answer that for you. Yes and yes. Your life will be in danger on this call and probably the next dispatched call.

So what do you do? Bravely, you respond with your fellow officers with your adrenaline at a high level because the police culture dictates that every responding officer has a responsibility to protect the public and their property.

After all, your fellow officers are there with you and that excellent police training you received along the way, should consume your thought process allowing you to make it through this dangerous call of a home invasion. If not, then maybe you don’t make it home and this morning was the last time you kissed your wife and observed your children sleeping in their bedroom.

Police Work: The unknown

I wanted to do this article to stress the importance of understanding the culture of a police officer from the time he or she wakes up in the morning until they arrive at the precinct. As you can see, most people have a reasonable assumption that their place of employment will be safe and the work is routine throughout each day. However, unlike that of a police officer, he or she has no clue of danger that lies ahead on the next call or criminal investigation. In addition, a police officer’s shift is often full of anxiety, excitement and unknown dangers that may have deadly consequences on a daily basis.

But this is the job that police officers signed up for and there are no excuses. The police took an oath to protect and serve the public to the best of their ability. That’s why the police culture has to be a family of blue to ensure the safety of their co-workers and the public.

In conclusion, are police officers perfect? Of course not. Do police officers make mistakes? Sure they do, but the majority work within the guidelines of state laws and their department policies. Their ultimate goal is to help all people regardless of race or economic background.

But remember, they are human too, just like you and me. And we all want to return home safe at the end of the day.

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Understanding Police Culture:

time to read: 4 min