14 Pros and Cons of Being a Police Officer

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Police officers are government employees responsible for helping people and protecting the community from any crime or dangerous situation.

They also must enforce the law while investigating various cases across their desks.

Police officers must also deliver first aid to those with injuries, such as in car accidents.

For those in this profession, salary and rank are based on skills and experience, like in the military.

If you’re interested in becoming a police officer, it’s essential to understand the pros and cons of this position.

So keep reading to learn more!

Pros of Being a Police Officer

If you’re interested in becoming a police officer, there are many benefits of this career choice, including:

1. Create Positive Change

Many officers grew up in areas with poor conditions that guided them toward wanting to make a considerable change in their communities.

Living in the community which you protect and serve can be incredibly advantageous because the population knows you to some degree.

That means they are more likely to collaborate with you and help make the community a safe and better place for current and future residents.

2. Decent Job Security

Since all police forces in the U.S. are government jobs, you can enjoy decent job security wherever you land in law enforcement.

In other roles, employees are constantly concerned with getting laid off.

However, in many areas of the country, there need to be more police officers, which helps further secure the career.

Police officers sign long-term contracts which are difficult for the government to break without cause.

That means you can expect to keep your profession for many decades; most stay from being new out of the academy to retirement.

If having job security is an advantage you are looking for in a career, then being a police officer checks the box.

3. Earn a Decent Salary

Depending on the state and location of your department, police officers can earn a comfortable living that provides a good life for their families.

However, the starting salary is low; the pay scale increases as you grow within the local police department.

So while you will never become a millionaire like in office positions, you can certainly earn a respectable salary.

Also, since many new officers come out of the police academy in their early 20s, retirement with a pension for life in their 40s and 50s is common.

This is much earlier than those with office jobs who work well past 65.

4. Learn How to Deal with Difficult Individuals

One significant advantage of becoming a police officer is learning to deal with difficult individuals in various situations.

Most criminals will not be pleasant, so you must exhibit self-control and maintain a stable mindset to deal with these individuals.

Also, others will lie or injure you to get out of being questioned or arrested.

Managing these tricky situations will help you build a strong mindset that increases your patience.

Many of these tactics learned in the professional world will carry over into your personal life, which is a valuable skill.

5. Help Others in the Community

The most obvious advantage of becoming a police officer is you get to help others in the local community.

Protecting citizens and upholding the law can make a tremendous difference in the community.

Police officers also offer support in non-crime emergency scenarios ranging from directing traffic during a car accident to clearing an area when a fire breaks out.

When becoming an officer, you can save residents’ lives or better them by helping the community.

6. Never a Boring Day

Generally, police officers’ jobs vary greatly every day.

This ensures the profession remains fresh and exciting throughout your career.

Police officers have different tasks from one day to the next and must respond to many situations with different impacted individuals.

Most police officers work in the field, so there’s not much time spent behind a desk other than conducting administrative tasks.

This helps speed up the day and keeps officers occupied with different beats and assignments.

7. Overcome your Fears

One lesser-considered advantage of becoming a police officer is the job puts you in situations requiring you to overcome various fears.

For example, at the beginning of your career, you may be insecure or intimidated about managing challenging situations.

You may also be worried about dealing with armed individuals trying to injure you or others.

However, you will overcome the fear as you become more experienced in dealing with these situations.

Cons of Being a Police Officer

While the job’s perks are extensive, understanding the downsides is also critical.

These include:

1. Always Under Scrutiny 

Every move a police officer makes, regardless of if they are on duty, is the subject of internal investigations and community complaints.

If a dispute arises, the typical citizen is more likely to call the supervisor of a police officer than in any other profession.

That means, as an officer, you will never actually be off the clock, with all eyes watching at all times.

In addition to all the other horrible situations, events, and images a police officer encounters, this scrutiny level can seriously impact an officer’s mental state.

2. Confronted with Morose Issues

As a police officer, you are almost guaranteed to see sights you would rather not see, like crimes involving children, mutilated bodies, and murder victims.

Unfortunately, these disturbing events and images can have a massively negative impact on your emotional state.

Often, these sights stay with you for your entire life, and some officers develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Luckily, government agencies have come a long way in offering resources and support for such conditions and other mental health issues.

3. Dangerous Job

Being a police officer is a dangerous job since officers must respond to dangerous situations where their lives are in jeopardy.

Scenarios involving firearms and physical fights are some of the most dangerous occurrences an officer will encounter.

These could even start a routine traffic stop where no aggression is shown.

Police officers also risk their lives during emergency scenarios, like traffic accidents and fires.

The small silver lining of being a dangerous job is that it’s helping to save other lives and keep the community safe.

4. Mistakes Can Lead to Adverse Outcomes

With traffic light and sidewalk cameras, body cameras, and cell phones with high-resolution cameras, you will constantly be recorded for any mistakes or wrongdoing by the community and government.

Therefore, even the slightest mistake can negatively impact your reputation and the department and become a massive problem for society.

These small mistakes have even led to legal actions against the officer.

Consequently, it’s critical always to be careful and calculating while following all training procedures to the highest detail level.

5. Must Make Difficult Decisions

Police officers are regularly confronted with making complex decisions due to the situations they are put in and the criminals they encounter.

With many of these tough decisions, lives hang in the balance, so making the incorrect choice can result in a disastrous impact and feelings of guilt.

Although police officers need to protect themselves, they must also know when not to use excessive force or their weapons.

This has led to innocent lives being lost and legal actions being taken against the police officer involved.

6. Takes an Emotional Toll

Being a police officer puts you in various incredibly stressful situations that can take a significant physical and emotional toll.

Since you will be dealing with crimes and criminals, some of whom wish to injure you, it’s natural to take on elevated stress levels.

Luckily, police departments have more programs, training, and resources available now than ever to help manage stress and wide security measures to keep you safe while on the job.

7. Unpredictable Work

Being a police officer is incredibly unpredictable, so it becomes challenging to plan the day.

Emergency and criminal situations occur around the clock, all year, without any breaks, stopping, or holidays.

When these situations arise, officers must always be prepared to respond, regardless of their state of mind.

As you rise within the department and are slapped with more responsibility, you must be on-call almost around the clock when new details about a case develop.

This daily fluctuation can be mentally taxing on even the most robust mind, but it is something you be prepared to manage.

Pros and Cons of Being a Police Officer – Summary Table

Pros of Being a Police OfficerCons of Being a Police Officer
1. Create Positive Change1. Always Under Scrutiny 
2. Decent Job Security2. Confronted with Morose Issues
3. Earn a Decent Salary3. Dangerous Job
4. Learn How to Deal with Difficult Individuals4. Mistakes Can Lead to Adverse Outcomes
5. Help Others in the Community5. Must Make Difficult Decisions
6. Never a Boring Day6. Takes an Emotional Toll
7. Overcome your Fears7. Unpredictable Work

Should You Become a Police Officer?

The answer to this question revolves around your ability to manage stress and make the right decision quickly in high-stakes situations.

If you consider yourself a calm and collected person during even the most stressful situations, then becoming a policeman is the right choice.

Much ex-military personnel who have been involved in battle situations enter the police force because they can deal with these events.

However, if you don’t have this type of experience or cannot manage the stress levels presented to officers daily, you should not consider becoming a police officer.

There are plenty of other government jobs that you can look into with less stress and the same ability to help the local community.

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Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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