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Your voices: Police1 readers debate the pros and cons of being a cop

We asked, you answered: Here are four benefits and four drawbacks readers listed as their top pros and cons of working in law enforcement

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By Joanna Putman

Police1 readers on Facebook were asked to share their favorite and least-favorite aspects of working as a law enforcement officer. We received several perspectives, ranging from inspiring to heart-wrenching. Read all of the comments for yourself here.

Pro: Meaning and purpose in serving

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Several commenters reflected on the honor of serving their communities. The ability to save lives, help people and make a difference appeared most frequently in comments that mentioned a “pro.”

"[A pro for me was] doing something that had meaning and purpose,” Douglas Peters reflected.

Commenters also reported a sense of honor and pride that came with police work.

"[A pro for me was] the honor you get serving this country, trying to make it a better place against evil for the good,” Jim Henry commented.

Con: Health and wellness effects

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“Con: [I] Can’t turn off my brain, ever.” - Todd Siex

Commenters cited a variety of different trauma-related effects of serving in law enforcement long-term, including PTSD, nightmares, hyper-alertness, insomnia and loss of empathy. One commenter also noted the physical danger of working in law enforcement.

"[The cons for me are] PTSD, lack of empathy after a while, constant anxiety out in public...[and] having your happiness and carefree mindset stolen in a matter of minutes,” Anthony Salinas commented.

For officer health and wellness resources, visit Police1’s wellness page.

Pro: Having the best work story

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“Pro: [I] participated in the greatest show on earth. Nobody ever asks an accountant to tell their best work story.” - Leo Hegarty

“A front-row ticket to the greatest show on Earth,” several readers mentioned. Never underestimate the entertainment value of your weirdest arrest!

“The pros [are] the people the places and the things you will see.” - Todd J. Ehret

“Pro: Having the best stories at a party.” - Tony Sax

Con: A negative outlook

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“Con: looking at people differently.” - Christopher Michael

“Con- [I] lost faith in humanity” - Dave T. Thoma

Many commenters expressed general negativity toward people and the world in general that they developed over years on the force.

“Pro - we see things differently. Con - we see everyone differently.” - Knute Lehmann III

Pro: Community and camaraderie

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“Pro - belonging to a great family” - George Earl

Teamwork, a sense of brother and sisterhood and the support of the law enforcement community were often cited as the best part of being a cop.

“Met some of the most intelligent and caring people in the police force.” - Todd J. Ehret

“Pros: Meeting the best people you will ever know and being able to have a job worth remembering.” - Anthony Salinas

Con: Political & social forces

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"[The] public thinks they know how to do our job from TV shows they watch.” - Tom Hagen

Several commenters expressed frustration with political and social forces at play, saying that government and media leaders do not give police adequate support. Commenters also expressed a sense of general underappreciation for police work.

“The fun has been taken away. Police officers have become vilified in criminals hero worshiped. It truly breaks my heart for the young officers that do not realize what a great job this used to be.” - Scott Anthony

"[The government is] protecting the people who do the least for society instead of protecting [those who do] the most for society.” - Hunter Jon

Pro: Pension, hours and benefits

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Commenters praised workplace benefits and retirement available for law enforcement officers.

“I know you only said one [pro] but, a very generous pension and benefits for life after retiring at age 49!” - Leo Hegarty

“Pro: The autonomy the job provides.” - Benjamin Eric

“Pros: 2 on 5 off work schedule and get to collect a check [and] pension in my early 50s.” - Cody Taylor

Con: Effects on family life

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“Admit only 1; family not invited. Sure is hard on the family this way.” - Phil Gee

Several commenters lamented the difficulty of balancing the rigorous hours of policing with family life. Some also mentioned the emotional distress that can come from the inability to share the trauma of police work with spouses and family members.

“Con: Causing mental [distress] in our families. For us, walking out the door is just a routine we do. For our families, they never know if you will be walking back in the door at the end of your tour and that thought is always in the back of their minds.” - Douglas Peters

“Con: [Being] on call 365 [days per] year caused them to miss all the important family events that they can never get back.” - Katherine White

Some inspiration

One commenter reminded officers to find humor in their work:

“My training sergeant, who is still going strong at age 93, is the one who found humor everywhere. Realize early in your career that you can’t change society or human nature. A cop’s number one enemy is frustration. I’ve seen officers remain mad for years over one not-guilty finding or an unsolved case. I taught students in my police academy classes for 16 years that they would lose cases or see inequities all the time. Turn those frustrations off and shut the door. Celebrate the cases you do solve, the miscreant you do put away, that one person that you do help, or that one kid that you turn around. We are not avenging angels. We are human beings and need humor.” - Bill Applegate

Another commenter encouraged officers to persevere despite the difficulties: “For those called to public service, no paycheck can eclipse the honor and privilege of serving others and protecting your community...Serve with dignity and finish strongly.”

What are your top pros and cons? Email

Police1 readers respond

Pro: When after working a tough shift, a citizen (from the very elderly down to a child) comes up to you and says, “Thank you for your service!” It reminds you that we can make a difference.

Con: “Police work” is on the cusp of becoming “more of a science, than an art,” instead of the other way around. I’ve been blessed with a 47-year career of it being “art.”