Cops and ADHD: A Blessing Or a Curse?


Look, a squirrel

I know, so played. So very played.


A disclaimer to all of you internet P.H.D.’s and Facebook neuroscientists. This article is merely asking a question.

But I’m sure some of you reading this will lash out with a superbly executed counter to the question and argument.

Go easy.

Why do so many cops have ADHD?

Or, does the law enforcement profession attract those with ADHD?

I have been pondering both since 2012.

That’s when I finally gave in and did something about my “affliction”. I guess I had an extreme case because I really didn’t “give in.” In reality, it was more like an intervention from family and co-workers.

I couldn’t see it.

I mean the terrible grades in school, the failed marriages, the impulsive and erratic behavior at times. What the hell were these people talking about?

I was perfectly fine.

Stayed focused man

My god if I had a nickel for every time I would hear that in a day.

With all good intentions, when you tell someone with ADHD to stay focused, you have essentially hit the pause button in their brain.

Like fingerprints or DNA, no two people with ADHD display the same characteristics of the “affliction.”

See Related Article: “Army Reservist Cop Retires After 25 Years, Only 2 Spent with PD”

Other than not being able to focus on anything for more than 3 seconds, the two that I displayed most prominently were hyper-speak and what I like to call the “Six Million Dollar Man” syndrome.

The best way for me to describe hyper-speak is this;

For normal brains, the thoughts that eventually become words and intelligible sentences, flow and pause based on the pace and temper of the person communicating.

For me and others who suffer from hyper-speak, the words in our head are coming at us at break neck speed and actually speed up as we begin to speak.

This usually comes across as arrogant, loud and sometimes mean. I guess that’s where my saltiness comes from.

Far worse than hyper-speak for me is dealing with and coping with the “Six Million Dollar Man” syndrome (this is what I call it to best describe what’s happening in my brain).

If you are my age then you remember this show that was quite popular in the late 70’s.

The main character, Steve Austin, an astronaut, is horribly maimed in a space accident. In a nutshell, the government rebuilds him with robotic limbs which in turn gives him superman like powers.

One of these powers is the ability to run fast.

Really fast.

For some reason, the shows producers thought it would be a cool effect to show him running in slow motion when in reality he was running at lightening speed. I know, it doesn’t make sense but hey, it was the 70’s.

If you don’t believe me, check out this video..

But I can think of no better way to describe my day to day interactions with other humans.

For me, everyone appeared to be moving in slow motion. The way they moved, the way they drove a car, the way they spoke etc..

It did and still does drive me INSANE! Always trying to hurry people along to my speed with the customary hand wave or worse, finishing their sentences before they do.

But, as of 2012, I now know that it’s not a them problem.

It’s a me problem.

A perfect fit

Because most of the professional gamer jobs are taken by 15 year old boys, those with ADHD need a profession that suits their talents.

And their couldn’t be one more suited than law enforcement.

Some may argue that it’s impossible to multi-task and that the term should not exist. The experts saying that have never been cops.

We know.

In the blink of an eye we can be thrown into the middle of a dynamic, hell-fire situation with many moving parts. Things happen fast on the streets.

And for cops, especially those who have ADHD, that’s how we like it.

You see, the beauty of being a cop for one with the “affliction” is that we don’t have to focus on any one thing for too long.

For cops with ADHD, on the job or off-duty, we can change direction if the situation dictates rather quickly. Heck, we can change direction mid-thought without even blinking.

This is typically a great attribute to have as a cop.

Not so much for everyday life or in relationships.

I know that a lot of you old salts like me will read this article and automatically be dismissive.

“Sarge, this whole ADHD thing is just an excuse, back in my day….”

My bet would be that you are the same group of old timers who refuse to get on Facebook because it’s dumb or your wife won’t let you.

See Related Article: “Short Cop Fulfills Dream of Making SWAT Team”


***Rumor has it the squirrel in the photograph jumped to his death after reading this article…***


  1. ADHD and after almost 35 years it’s almost Aspergers. You described the ability to react quickly to situations. People think I care and that’s half the battle. I’ve been this way my whole life. What was the aha moment like when you found out? I think that ADHD is almost a prerequisite for the job.

  2. That’s definitely me!!! I tried to do the investigations thing that included the traditional-styled desk. That experiment didn’t work out very well for me. My “Look, a squirrel!!!”, moments seriously interrupted my report writing and other tasks. Now I’m back in my mobile office and having a blast! The zero to 60 and 60 to zero fits me perfectly. And I’ve actually read an article that listed the best jobs for those with ADHD: if it wasnt the number 1 choice, law enforcement was way up at the top of the list.

  3. Homerun.i realized,thanks to my administrative assistant,in my early forties and ten years on,that I was not laid my mind I was throttling back all the back.she thought it was a joke.when she realized I wasn’t kidding, she told me nobody that knew would consider me laid opener.realized that flat out was not laid back.never good enough,never fast enough.didnt mind telling the Sheriff he was full of it,even though I respected him.after 41 years a change in administration ended my career.hate retirement. But it is what it your posts.and Sgt was my favorite rank.give me the right Sgt and right company clerk I can run anything.

  4. The reason Law Enforcement Personal have ADHD is because so many citizen have CUTR (Cranium Up Their Rectum ). But yes I was in Law Enforcement for 40 years and when my youngest child was diagnosed with ADHD in school and the doctors said it was sometimes inherited from parent I had myself tested and WHALA I was told I was affected with ADHD and I survived 40 years in LE.

  5. I have been saying for years that police work is the perfect fit for someone with ADD. Including myself. Retired as a Lt. with 32 years otj. I never would have survived in the civilian world.

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