Police officers deal with daily stressors that are difficult on both the body and the mind. Without proper self care and awareness of the daily stresses, police officers are at a high risk for burning out early within their career. These tips can assist with self care and protecting both the body and the mind.
Research the career
It is always a good idea to thoroughly research any career before pursuing it. The police training sessions can be a good indicator of the position. However, you can also research the career before even applying to the police academy. You can request mentorship from a local police officer. You can also informally speak with or interview local police officers. These things give you a better idea of what you can expect.
Request an experienced partner
New police hires are often paired with an experienced partner. If you are not, however, it is a good idea to request one. Partnering with an experienced police officer will be useful for both your safety and the knowledge of the career. Experienced partners can recommend important self care tips while also showing you the daily routine of the position. You might be surprised at how much more you learn after the police academy simply by working with an experienced partner.
Be sure to take time off
Most police careers are salary positions. This means that you have personal days off, sick leave, and weeks of vacation time. It is important to utilize these days as a police officer. Otherwise, you increase the change of burn out. Even if you do not have any vacations planned, it is a good idea to take some time off. If you truly do not want to waste your time, consider using this time to increase your police safety knowledge or training. According to government data, during the last decade there were nearly 60,000 assaults a year on police officers. Upgrading safety knowledge is always useful.
Follow all safety regulations
Some police departments require that their officers wear safety gear. Others, however, leave it up to the preference of the officer. It is best to get in the habit of always wearing the safety gear. You never know when you will be met with an emergency. Items like ballistic body armor and bulletproof body armor are good to have, even if they are stored safely in the trunk of the police vehicle.
Active duty police gear can end up saving your live. In fact, armor vests have saved the lives of more than 3,000 law enforcement officers over the past three decades. If you are not familiar with ballistic body armor items, make sure you get sufficient practice in before ever having to use them.
Implement change when needed
Some police departments get stuck in old traditions and regulations. They rely on new officers to suggest and implement needed changes. If your police academy pushed the importance of ballistic body armor and yet, your hiring department does not have access to them, be a part of the change. According to a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 71% of local police departments in 2013 required officers to wear armor vests at all times. This number, however, is expected to increase and you can be a part of this change. Other changes that you can implement in addition to the ballistic body armor include advanced safety trainings, video cameras, and shooting targets within the department.
Deciding to become a police officer is a big decision. Not only will you be involved in protecting your community, but you will also face some amount of risk yourself. Active police officers require self care and awareness. Advanced safety trainings, mentorships, and always keeping an eye out for potential change are important steps in improving the work environment.