10,000 officers respond to policing poll: Only 7% would recommend becoming a cop

When asked about their thoughts on leaving law enforcement, only a third said they will 'remain on the job as long as possible'

In June 2020, Calibre Press and Police1 asked officers across the country to share their thoughts on the state and future of the police profession. The response was overwhelming. Here’s what readers said:

The participants

Time on the job: Of the more than 10,000 officers who participated in the poll, 44.5% have been on the job for more than 20 years, 28.9% for between 13-20 years, 18.7% for between 6-12 years and the remaining 7.9% for 5 years or less.

Rank/position: In regard to rank, 41.5% are in patrol, 26.2% are first-line supervisors, 14.5% are at the command level, 13.7% are detectives and 4.1% are chiefs or sheriffs.

Job satisfaction

When asked about their overall level of satisfaction with being in law enforcement, 50.8% said they were, “Pleased, but not as much as I used to be.”

Nine percent said they were “extremely” satisfied and 7.7% said they were decidedly “not satisfied” to be in law enforcement.

Eighteen percent reported being “somewhat” pleased to be on the job, while 14.2% reported “very little” job satisfaction.

Leaving the job

When asked about their thoughts on leaving law enforcement, just over 30% said they will “remain on the job as long as possible.”

Nearly half said they would “like to retire” but were waiting until they were eligible for their pensions, while 16.3% said they were now eligible for full pension and “will retire ASAP.”

About 8% said they were not eligible for a pension but were leaving law enforcement anyway and just a fraction said they were new to the job but planned to leave “no matter what.”

Looking back

When asked, “If you had it to do over again, would you enter law enforcement?” responses were closely split: 38.3% said they would, 35.6% said they wouldn’t and 26.1% weren’t sure what they would do.

The future?

When asked if they would recommend police work to a son or daughter, a whopping 80.5% said no while just 7.2% said they would. The remaining 12.3% said they weren’t sure.

Those who said they wouldn’t recommend that their children become officers were asked to select all the reasons they feel that way from a list of multiple concerns provided in the poll: 

  • 88% selected lack of departmental support;
  • 83% selected overall lack of respect for the profession;
  • 63% selected increased legal liability;
  • 63% selected duties of the job have changed for the worse;
  • 58% cited concerns for officer safety.

What are your plans for staying in law enforcement? Email editor@policeone.com

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