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No other way to say it...

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by golls17, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. golls17

    golls17 Lifetime Newbie

    Feb 3, 2009
    **Update Post #48 - Talked with the Chief, things not looking too promising but I'm still fighting**

    I don't think I can handle this job.

    I'm still in field training, but the stress is just too overwhelming. I don't think it's the stress of being evaluated on everything, that I can handle. I know it takes a special kind of person to do this job, and I've been doubting I have that mentality. The thought of quitting has crossed my mind, but the word "quit" scares the hell out of me. I've never quit anything in my life, and I'm worked too hard for the last three years to throw it all away.

    Everything came into perspective, though, when my wife asked, "If we didn't have to worry about the financial aspect, would you still quit?" I realized I probably would, which should be a giant red flag. I know I've changed as a person, too, and not in a way I like. I can't remember the last time I've smiled, let-alone laughed about anything since starting this job. Even when times were hard financially and I was struggling to get hired, I still was an overall happy person. Now, not so much.

    Here's the thing:

    I don't WANT to quit. I'm enjoying it a lot. I've seen more in the last 4 months than most people do in a lifetime. The high-stress calls don't seem to bother me. We had an armed robbery at a bank, and I found the suspect car shortly after. I had a great time with that! It's the hours, not being able to see my family. It's everywhere I go hearing people I meet and friends talk about, "well when I got pulled over" or "did you see the video of that cop? he should be fired" It's interviewing somebody as a witness and cutting them loose, only to figure out later they are the suspect and you can't find them anymore. All of things I knew to expect, and I thought I was ready for them, but now I'm not so sure. At first, I thought I was going through a phase, but things have been building up and my stress is growing. It's caused me to even have panic attacks, sometimes a couple a week. Not like panicking on the job, but I'll just be sitting at home and my chest gets heavy, my breathing gets short, and I feel really uneasy.

    I CAN'T quit. My family relies very heavily on my income, and we are through my insurance. I'm worried about what will happen with my family without the income. Also, and I know it's really not a good reason at all, but I've never quit anything and my pride is in the way. I'm also worried that I'll quit, then look back and regret it, knowing that I'll never be able to get back into it again. That's something I know would loom over me for a very long time.

    That being said, I know that this is all I've ever wanted to do with my life, but I don't want to be that guy that is only in it for the pay. I really am enjoying the work, but I just don't know how much more of the stress I can take. I've come home every day too stressed to fall asleep, and when I finally do sleep, I dream of the stresses of work and wake up in the middle of the night. Then my day is pretty much shot because I'm too tired and stressed, and it's time to go to work again, and the cycle continues. My weekends aren't much different.

    I know I've got some soul searching to do. I've vented to friends, family, my dog, and God. Now I'm venting to the Cop Talk crowd. I have a feeling I know what responses I'll get, and I probably won't like them. That being said, if I really can't keep up with this job, where do I go from here? Getting hired was one of the happiest days of my life, behind my daughter being born and getting married. Am I really to believe that the last three years of working hard and sacrifice were all for nothing? I'm not sure I'm ready to throw it all away yet, but I'm not sure I can survive it, either.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  2. MeefZah

    MeefZah Cover is Code 3

    Jan 2, 2008
    Lost Coast, Cali
    It sounds like you have considered the reasons to go, and the reasons to stay.

    From your statement that if it wasn't for the money, you'd quit; I think you already know what you need to do.

    As you mentioned, no one should do this job for the money. It's a calling. If it called to you, and you gave it a shot only to find out it wasn't really your thing; then there is no shame in walking away.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011

  3. Sgt127


    Nov 5, 2002
    Hm. Ok. Where to start....

    I've been a cop for over 25 years. I don't understand the stress. I thrive on the hot calls, as a matter of fact, I jump all of them. You seem to not be stressed out by the hot calls either, thats good.

    Cops screw up. We wreck cars, we break things, we lose equipment. If you are working for a good department, its no big deal. "Dear Chief, sorry about the 2012 Tahoe I just wrapped around a tree chasing the Agg Robbery Suspect, it was my fault, I accept full responsability." Day or two off, over, as long as you tell the truth, generally, unless you intentionally commited a crime or gross violation of policy, its no big deal.

    People lie to the Police all the time, sometimes we catch them, sometimes we don't. Eh. When you go fishing, you can't catch every fish in the lake, just a few. It is what it is.

    Paperwork is paperwork, it sucks. Gotta be done, part of the job.

    Dead times between 0300-0600 are more stressful for me than anything. I hate being bored, but, that cutting, shooting, major accident might be the next call, so, it makes it worthwhile. Also, that next set of tailights I see MIGHT be a stolen car.

    People say stupid stuff, so what? Be a lawyer, you get to hear all the lawyer jokes.

    We had a rookie, good potential Officer, in the last phase of training. Got a call to a robbery where the clerk was shot dead behind the counter. Took all the information, did all the paperwork asked the FTO to head to the station, walked into the Chiefs office and resigned.

    I guess I don't really understand WHERE the stress is coming from. Help me out, maybe theres a particular thing to work on.
  4. GPalmer

    GPalmer CLM

    May 20, 2006
    Sorry to hear the news, the posts of yours that I've read on this forum make me believe that you'd make a fine officer. I'm also not a LEO. That being said, if I were in your shoes, I'd sucks it up and look for another opportunity. Keep giving your current profession all the effort it deserves until it's time to move on. Your current profession is not a good one to be plying with a load on your shoulders, the make people sloppy and impair their judgment and that is very, very bad in your line of work.
  5. packsaddle


    Jan 15, 2009
    It seems you have the whole God --> Family --> Job hierarchy figured out, which is good.

    Finish your FTO and then transfer to a Reserve.

    Get a job in the private sector and work one weekend a month as a Reserve.

    Reserve at a small town PD or rural SO at first.

    Hate to see you throw it all away but only you know what's best for you.

    Good luck either way.
  6. Panzergrenadier1979

    Panzergrenadier1979 Keystone Cop

    Jan 16, 2009
    Central Pennsylvania
    You've gone through so much to get where you are now. Finish your probation! If you quite prior to finishing probation you'll probably never get another LE job later.

    Take a break, go run some traffic and unwind. I don't like the paperwork aspect of this job (my biggest cause of stress) but I've realized now that no matter how much I get done, there will just be more of it tomorrow. Rather then stress about it, I do as much as I can during the shift; if it doesn't get done, so what? It will be there in the morning. I can spend hours or days busting my butt on a case and then watch the judge dismiss the charges in the blink of an eye. Who cares?! I did my job to best of my ability. If the bad guy's "rights" mean that he can douse his girlfriend in lighter fluid and chase her around the house with a lighter and get the charges dropped then FINE! That's on the idiot judge's conscience, not mine. I'm an honest police officer and a good husband & father. I go where others are afraid to go and I get to do things that others wish they could do. The stress is just a small price to pay for doing something I love.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
  7. My suggestion at this point is to finish your field training and if possible, probation before leaving. Just getting through FTO will lift a load off of you.
  8. siblueg

    siblueg Gray Area

    Feb 11, 2008
    You kinda of sound like me when I first started. I was so STRESSED out while in training to the point where I was going to quit at any moment. I felt like my department was against me aswell. I also feel like i changed and most of my friends were slowly growing apart. When i was around my friends all they wanted to talk about was police **** and it bugged me. I felt like the hours was going to affect my marage and i would be a typical divorced cop! Haha. I pushed through it and waited to see how I liked the job when I got out of training. I'm glad I waited because I completely love my job now. You have to get used to the change in your life and it will feel like second nature to you. Just keep your your priorities strait with your family and then your job. Hope that helps
  9. merlynusn


    Nov 16, 2007
    I'd second finishing FTO. Have you spoken with someone else about this? Do you have an academy classmate? What about your FTO?

    This job does take a lot out of you and you have to make sure your priorities are aligned. You will never save the world. You will work hard on a case and see it dismissed or pled down to nothing. Your job is to catch them. Once they are in the jail, it isn't up to you.

    Find out what the causes of your stress are and then see if you can address them. If you cannot, then you should find another job that is more to your liking. This is not the job to have anxiety over. You have a long career ahead of you. If you get burned out or have a panic attack, it could hit at the wrong time and someone else could get hurt over it.

    If you need to, feel free to PM.
  10. You need some professional help to learn HOW to deal with the stress and you need to do it now. True Panic Attacks are not the "normal" way of dealing with stress unless they occur in a severe Life Threating situation and they only affect about 1.3% of the population.

    Not everything that appears to be a panic attack is one as some medical conditions present the same symptoms. These medical conditions include low blood sugar (hypoglycemia); overactive thyroid (hypothyroidism); and a cardiac condition known as mitral valve prolapse.

    You have a problem and you need to deal with it now, go see a Doctor and start the process because it's possible that just a slight change in eating habits is all thats needed.
  11. ateamer

    ateamer NRA4EVR

    Buy a copy of "Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement" by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin. He is a veteran Tucson PD officer and psychologist, and his book should be required reading at the academy. Read it, put its lessons to use and it could be a big help.
  12. ateamer

    ateamer NRA4EVR

    +1 As strongly as I recommend Gilmartin's book, I still don't understand why officers get stressed over the little things. This job is too much fun. When it's call-to-call, you have to prioritize between the fight, the request for Code 3 units at the foot pursuit and the hot prowl, you feel alive like few other times.

    The people lying to us is just part of the job. It's their job to lie, and it's our job to find the truth. A lot of the times they win. No biggie. The world won't stop turning because some twerp claimed that he was the victim when he was the one who started the whole thing. Just look at it as a fun challenge and a chance to hone your skills. It'll take years, but if you take each interview as a building block toward the detective bureau or whatever your ultimate goal (most guys seem to have that goal, don't know why more don't want to work their whole career on the street), you'll achieve that and have fun on the way.
  13. Bruce M

    Bruce M

    Jan 3, 2010
    S FL
    I concur with a check by your physician to eliminate a possible medical cause. I also agree with finishing the FTO phase and possibly probation. Also, out of curiosity, what did you do before? Whatever that job(s) was/were, was there no stress or problems? If you left, what would you do? Would there be stress/issues? There is a reason a job is called "work" as opposed to "super-happy-fun-time." The best to you no matter how it turns out.
  14. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003

    You clearly have high standards for yourself, and when you don't meet them it seems you punish yourself. You need to make sure that your standards are actually realistic. I don't mind rookies making rookie mistakes, as long as they don't make them over and over. Learn from the errors---that's what FTO is there for. You'll get experience, you'll learn how to do investigations over time. It probably took me two years after FTO, on a busy shift, before I thought I had a handle on the basics of police work.

    You aren't taking care of yourself. This job is a marathon, not a sprint. I second the notion of getting to a doctor, checking diet, and making very, very sure that you have a physical fitness program in place, especially given your sleep issues.

    IMO, FTO isn't the place to make decisions on your suitability for the work. Too much stress, too much of an artificial environment. Yeah, if you're unsafe and unable to deal with the life-or-death aspect, FTO is the time to walk. But if you're wondering how you'll handle the work without a trainer sitting next to you, give it some time. And from the practical standpoint, in this economy it's easier to get a job if you have a job.
  15. ateamer

    ateamer NRA4EVR

    I missed the part about sleep, or the lack of it. At the end of every shift, especially if it was a stressful one, get in a quick, hard workout. Get your heart rate up and work up a good soaking sweat, No more than 30-40 minutes, and work as nonstop as you can. That will help you sleep. And no caffeine or sugar (except for fresh fruit) in the last half of your shift.
  16. Bruce M

    Bruce M

    Jan 3, 2010
    S FL
    Shifts will change but all through your career there wil be times that work interferes with family. On the other hand sometimes being the only Dad that can help with the school field trip has its advantages. I think a serious question you need to ask yourself, is if you quit, what will you do and will that provide for your family as well both short and long term. As others have said, while the money should not be the primary motivation, taking care of our families has to be toward the top of the list. I have never worked with anyone who got rich doing this job. But I also have never met anyone in this job who couldn't provide adequately for their family over a long term if they avoided doing foolish things.
  17. packsaddle


    Jan 15, 2009
    I think most people experience some form of "performance anxiety" during FTO.

    It is normal for a person to get nervous when someone is looking over your shoulder the whole shift, scrutinizing your every move, while knowing your future career is based on his/her opinion of your performance.

    Most of that will go away when you are on your own.
  18. Cochese

    Cochese Most mackinest CLM

    Jun 30, 2004
    Unmarked Rustbox
    Finish your probationary period, period.

    Do what you have to do to ensure your health, but finish your probationary period.
  19. Perhaps you're cutting / selling yourself short. It's a strange new world you've entered. The academy doesn't teach you hands on things. That comes with FTO and street time. You'll know better in a few months if you're cut out for it. I too when through a period of uncertainty and apprehension. That was two (2) years ago and today i love it. You at one point convinced yourself that this is what you wanted to do. You went through a number of interviews and tests then training to get where you are. All those interviews were positive and in their opinion you had the makings of a good officer. Give it time. Don't make a snap judgement now that can ruin any further opportunities should you again change your mind. Stick to it, finish your FTO time and play it day by day. Not everyone is cut out to do the job, however, I firmly believe that you, your interviewers and academy trainers can't all be wrong. You can do it, but only if you give ourself time to settle in and build relationships with your fellow officers and your job. No one is perfect right out of the box!
  20. Everyone is different.

    I will say this, if you want a 9-5 job, leave now. Quit. Save everyone the hassle.

    I see more officers that want a pay check and hate the hours. It causes nothing but problems. I guess I was lucky to have spent over 12 years active duty in the Army Infantry. I was gone from my wife for 9 months out of the average year doing training or doing missions.

    I like staying busy, and I love my wife (our kids are grown up). I have hours from about 2PM to 12PM M-F for the past 9 years. I like the busy shift. I was lucky to get my first shift of 7AM to 3PM for 6 months but my days off were tues/weds, and after that was lucky to get weekends off on our second shift for the next 8+ years.

    Some days the small calls get me angry, but it does not last long. As others have said and 'if the hours are not the issue', wait till you get out on your own and out of field training. Then you will have new issues for the next 6 months to a year that will not be as bad as field training. After that it is a job that should come second nature and be rather easy IMHO.

    I have a good time at work with my fellow workers, and even have fun with our customers. I find many more people like me than hate me. Some people just hate police. Heck I can even get the ones that hate police to like me.

    But be it the Military or Law Enforcement, you need a strong relationship if you want to make things works. Many relationships do not last long in some job area's.

    My wife has been married to me for about 17 years. If she ever wanted me to walk away from the Military or Police work, I would. She knows this, but will never ask it, as she knows that I like doing set things, and always find time for her on my days off. You need to make a call on your family and your job. You can have both, or you can not have either in the end.

    At the least I would finish field training and give it 6-12 months. Me, I would walk away if the wife wanted that, but I love my wife more than a job, and my wife loves me and puts up with my job.