And sure, you can always change jobs if you don’t like the initial career path you picked, so it’s not necessarily the end of the world if you decide to change direction. But it can make it more difficult and take even more time to get where you want to be both in terms of position and compensation.
These things can make you wonder… what makes a person want to choose a career in law enforcement?
I can give my perspective simply because that’s what I almost did.
Fresh out of college at the time, being a police officer seemed like it would be a rewarding, honorable position to hold in the community. I knew I wanted to help people in one form or another. What’s more honorable than protecting and serving? Putting away the bad guys? Solving crimes? Returning stolen items to their original owner? Helping rehabilitate offenders to be good citizens?
The truth is, I rarely thought about the downside.
The overnight and weekend hours. The holiday shifts. The attitudes often encountered by the people you are sworn to protect. The excuses (I was only going 90 in a 45 because I had to pee). The stereotyping. The misleading perception portrayed by television shows and the media. The common misconception that police officers make the laws they have to enforce (FYI… they don’t). The scrutiny of the public. And worst of all, the potential loss of their life or losing one of their co-workers.
I didn't know Dornell Cousette, and I don't know his family. But I appreciate everyday he put his life on the line to make Tuscaloosa a safer community for my family, my friends, my co-workers, and for all of us. He could have easily chosen a less hazardous and much better paying profession. Instead, he chose to serve and for that I am grateful.
The column this month is dedicated to him, to his family, and to all the officers and their families who unselfishly send their loved ones out to do this job on a daily basis in a world that seems less appreciative of them every day. Go meet them. Shake their hands. Meet their children. Show them some gratitude.
Police officers are people too. And we would sure be a mess without them.
I tweet insignificant things @ozborn34.
Derek Osborn is the Executive Director of PRIDE of Tuscaloosa by trade and a writer by hobby. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Lynn, and their daughters, Savannah and Anica.