Policing in America: Why Good Cops are Leaving

cop leaving

 Policing in America is at a crossroad

(Article updated 12/17/2017)

This includes me.

So much in the world of policing, especially american policing, has changed in the past few years.

As 2017 draws to a close, I, like so many of you, ponder what other changes will come in 2018.

When I originally chose the title for this article, “Policing in America: Why Good Cops Are Leaving”, it seemed to fit the sentiment that I was trying to convey on the issue.

After some thought, and this just came to me only recently, the title unintentionally ignored a group we will never be able to quantify.

Those who may have considered a career in law enforcement but because of the current climate never will.

I know that you can’t prove a negative but recruiting numbers don’t lie.

The past few years have seen the profession of policing in America turned on its head.

The public outcry over several police involved shootings has divided Americans into two groups.

The first being “why are cops killing so many unarmed, helpless, black men.” 

The second being “cops have a tough job, just follow their orders and everything will be good group.”

I stand here before both groups and shake my damn head.

Like you, I hear a lot of the Facebook and keyboard cowboys spouting their beliefs and pleading me to copy and paste their post that are not even their own words.

Both sides are devoutly invested and emotionally charged to defend their viewpoint.

And I get that.

See Related Article: “3 Viruses That Can Kill Morale in a Police Department”

As a policeman, I took an oath that said, among many things, that I would be impartial and neutral. And that is exactly how I will approach this article

Here are the 3 changes that I feel need to be addressed in policing in America ASAP!

1. Pay 

I read or hear about it everyday.

This agency or that police agency, any-town USA, are at critical manning and staffing.

It seems police and sheriff’s departments across the country are having a tough time keeping people around.


On the face of this issue the easy way out would be to blame it on the “War on Police”. And that is a real and present cause for some of the shortages.

The real problem and the solution is pay.

(Teachers, you’re going to have to take a knee on this one. I promise I will address your issues in a future article.)

The old adage is true.

You get what you pay for.

The salary of a policeman has remained stagnant for the better part of the last decade. The recession of 2007-2008 was every city managers burden initially but soon morphed into the perfect scapegoat.

“Sorry guys, I know it’s been 6 years since the housing collapse but we are just not ready to give you the raises that you deserve. Oh and you will have to start contributing to your retirement and forking over more cash to cover your health insurance.”

You get what you pay for.

What I love about this country above all others is our free market society.

Because of this, anyone, and yes ANYONE, with a dream and the right motivation can make and have a damn good life here.

And it’s no different with policing.

I recall approximately (wow I just sounded like a cop) a year ago that a jurisdiction from Texas traveled to a large metropolitan city on a recruiting trip.

At the end of the first day, the Texas agency had more or less abducted almost 100 officers from the department which hosted the event.


Most of the cops that jumped ship that day doubled their salaries to include other perks provided by the rogue agency.

Bottom line, money talks.

I recently wrote an article specifically addressing the issue of pay. You can read it here.

And stop showing me that cute little article about how people only quit because of bad management.  It’s partly true but we all know that money wins.

Every time.

2. Leadership

Leadership and management are not the same.

I’m starting to think that leadership, be it private sector, military, or any other, is not a priority like it once was.

I have seen a lot of different leadership styles in the last 30 years, which include both policing and the Marine Corps.

When I first came into police work, they told me it was like the military or para-military.


Related Article: “Top Ten Rules of Good Police Leadership”

Most of the leaders I had when I first started out as a cop for the first ten years or so were horrible. Just bad.

They led from a position of fear instead of mentor-ship and respect.

Not all were bad.

If you are reading this and you were my boss you already know what category you fall in.

Another disturbing trend in leadership that has come with technology is what I call The “PALS” leadership style.

The acronym, which I just came up with as I’m typing this, stands for the “Passive Aggressive Leadership Style”.  This is the leader who only directs and provides orders through email.

“But c’mon Sarge, it’s how things get done now”.

And I agree.

Emails are how we communicate now.

I would be lying if I said that I don’t use them like everyone else to put out information and or get the job done.

But when it comes to matters of work issues and employee relations, put the keyboard aside and address the issue in person.

And yes, I’m talking to you police management guy or gal.

Just stop.

It makes you look bad.

Or worse, it makes your people hate you and want to leave.

3. Community policing

The burden and scope of a cops responsibilities these days are poisoning our profession.

We have become too many things to too many people.

And before some academic jumps on here and starts spouting the 5 thousand different programs that have been effective, hear me out.

The phrase “cops are the community and the community are cops”or some variation of that old tired saying, needs to get with the 21st century.

The only thing that has ever helped a community not suck are the people that live there.


I know that every police chief in America wants to fight me right now.

The only thing, in my 2 plus decades of policing, that has ever genuinely helped a community in trouble, has been “in your face policing”.

Gasp. Shutter…

No he didn’t.

Yes I did. And that only solves the problem long term when the citizens in that neighborhood decide they have had enough. Or move.

We need to stop kidding ourselves.

Do you really think that Joe Thug (if your name is actually Joe Thug, this analogy does not pertain to you) cares about us holding hands with community leaders and forming partnerships?

What we are really doing are playing right into the hands of our neighborhood felon.

While our cops are attending meetings and listening to Mrs. Johnson complain about speeders on her street, Joe is planning and scheming his next hustle.

Now I’m not talking about the kind of policing that violates people rights.

I’m talking about the zero tolerance kind that has saved many neighborhoods from sinking faster than the Titanic. Or my promotion chances after  publishing this article.

You can find other ORIGINAL articles like this one and more at The Salty Sarge Facebook Page.


  1. Well…….community based policing is the key. Just not the type of community based policing it has evolved to. Not the politicized community based policing involving picnics and pizza parties for thugs or any other of the various hug a thug mentalities. The very premise of community based policing is predicated on the idea that each town/county/etc., is comprised of different communities. Each of these communities has its own needs which generally relate to quality of life issues. In most cases, in your face policing IS what is needed to keep these neighborhoods in transition from continuing their respective journeys toward shithole status. Law enforcement administrations have to understand/remember that law enforcement is a contact sport and as long as officers are proactive, they will generate complaints. They need to back their officers and remember that 99.9999% of these complaints are without merit. Community based policing is not a program. It’s is a philosophy. One that is as old as policing itself. But when it is highjacked by politicians or high ranking administrators with a need to
    be in the limelight at the turn of every corner, community based policing becomes an ineffective dog and pony show.

  2. Can’t agree more. I left my PD this past fall due to the leadership, or lack there of. As the patrol sgt I was third in command and in charge of our fto program, but had no say in anything. I was actually given a four hour ass chewing for treating a female trainee unfair because I… Wait for it… Expected her to show up on time.
    I was told my unfair treatment and expectations opened us up for potential lawsuit. Despite the chief telling me he’d spread word that I could handle the job if I quit, I gave notice the next day. I refused to work for someone who would constantly micromanage and overrule sound decisions while giving special treatment while saying it was in the interest of equality. More than 6 months later, still haven’t found a department that will have me, despite graduating the academy at the top of my class and having no reprimands on my record and clear separation paperwork

    • Check out Prince George’s County Police, Maryland, currently starting laterals at $68K with $10K signing bonus.

      • Please refer to Robert’s comment about what I think of Maryland. The Sarge needs a little bit more than 68K and some pocket change to work there.

    • “Still Looking,” It looks like you found it. The Salty Sarge. When you get a 5 hour ass chewing, come talk to me.

    • I would hope that there is more to quitting a PD than a disagreement over a trainees show time. Document and move on…if there is a problem within…report it.

  3. Community policing is the just a modern day term for know your district…the liberals want to think that they invented something new…arm chair criminologists think they are smart….but really street cops and street Sit’s are the smartest. It is for the beat cop to know his district…beat cops hit all the businesses and introduce yourself. stop in just to chat, the more they see you inn the uniform the more use to you they get…My partner and I were patrol officers and we were making 50 felony arrests a month a ton of misdemeanor arrests and even writing tickets…we had 4 years on and we thought our shit didn’t stink…Then one day at roll call our Sgt announces that we are no longer working that district. He moved us to (what we thought was a quiet district) to another district, residential district with a small mom pop stores, same sector…Only this time he told us that he wanted us out of patrol car for at least an hour a shift, he wanted the contact names for all the businesses in case of emergencies..who is working during our hours…Wow the businesses were not use to seeing the uniform and tough times we had for the first about 4 to 6 months…then they got use to us and after awhile if we did not stop by the businesses their feelings got hurt…we had more snitches and made more arrests because of that..our Sgt may he Rest In Peace made us into real patrol officers…Today that is called Community Policing…problem is today’s brass knows no difference, they do not know what the real police is.

    • Thank you Jim for letting the Salty Sarge and everyone else know how awesome of a cop you were. And thanks for your salty definition of community policing.

  4. Outstanding reply. That’s exactly what I was talking about. It has nothing to do with police sponsored block parties in bad neighborhoods funded by government grants! It’s knowing your beat, the ppl on your beat, and the problems faced by the good ppl on your beat. When in your face policing is needed, you serve it up in the time honored tradition.

  5. Some of this article I can agree with, some not. I concur that the compensation for police officers is less than it could or should be. The entities that control the purse strings, city, county councils, or state legislatures, have a multitude of work units to fund try to be fair and equitable to all employes. After all, everybody enjoys nice parks and recreation facilities, good roads and their trash picked up. Many residents benefit from vast social programs that include youth and family counseling and senior assistance and housing, for example. It’s not an easy task for elected officials to dole out precious tax dollars to fund everyone’s expectations as to how a government should spend tax dollars. But, government has no greater responsibility than to provide a safe environment for the people they serve. That equates to providing robust funding to law enforcement to attract retain train, and equip the best qualified individuals possible.

    As for leadership, has the author or commenters had the privilege to lead a modern law enforcement agency? Unless they have, they cannot relate to the conflicting demands placed on a CEO. I speak from a position of having served as an officer for over 50 years, a span of time that provided an opportunity to hold most positions in a police department including 30 years as a chief. By virtue of time I was considered a dinosaur by some, a grandfather figure to others, a mentor to some, and out of touch by a few. Through it all I was a cop. I lasted as long as I did by managing expectations. Expectations of the citizens I served, politicians, supervisors, and fellow officers. I never lost sight of the importance of family which many in the job do because the work is all-consuming.

    In summary, officers deserve higher pay for the risks they are taking. You get what you pay for, Mr. Or Ms. Elected Official. As for those who decry a lack of leadership for the reason for leaving the job, leadership begins with the individual. If you can’t manage to motivate yourself to hold the best job in the world, you have no one to blame but yourself.

    • Jesus Christ Jim, did you become a cop when you were like 6? 50 years? And please, don’t confuse being a chief with being a CEO of a company in the private sector.

      And yes Jim, the salt has lead officers and also brass like you. You see Jim, or do you prefer to be called Chief, when the poo hits the fan, brass like you will always lean on the old salts like me to get the job done.

  6. Some departments suffer from all three, low pay, lack of quality leadership and poor community interaction…and to top it off, a large illegal immigrant population, gang and cartel presence, a dept that does not grow with the population or rising crime levels, all lead to a continual loss of personnel, which leads to lowering hiring standards, putting officers on the streets before they are ready or not fit for the profession to begin with. The list can go on for days, but the bottom line is that it’s almost impossible to run an effective law enforcement agency as long as it’s influenced and ran by politicians who only have their own interest in mind, who cut equipment, incentives and training budgets to satisfy the city council or county commissioners.

    • While I agree the police should be paid better, let me say this. When I was working, my department paid me well. I made a decent living. Mind you, I wasn’t wealthy though. I think some of ir boils down to how well the person manages the money they do get. It’s about personal responsibility too. Just saying.

      • Thank you Richard. There’s always a financial adviser in the group that thinks he’s Warren Buffet. The Salty One thanks you for your insight and wisdom.

  7. Police are our protection from the evils in society. They enforce the laws made by politicians elected by the people who they protect. They are not political and should not be influenced by politicians. This leads to corruption. Politicians are subject to the same laws as the people who elect them.
    I like most of what I have seen here. Allow police to do their jobs and back them when they do. Whenever (rarely) corruption is found in a police department, there is often politics involved. Some Chiefs/Commissioners are merely puppets of a leading politician who knows nothing of actual police WORK. Small wonder we have the problems we do.
    Stay safe all of you, while working to bring order back to a floundering country. please!

  8. Blah, blah blah…Policing is a term used so loosely now, it holds no weight. We go to work and try to make it through a shift with a$$ holes that never should have been the police, let alone make it through the twisted and grueling hiring process. Change only comes from good leadership. An effective leader must be 3 things…Authoritative, delagative, and participative. YES I SAID PARTICIPATIVE! Get out and answer some calls!!! Just because you have rank you think you can just watch Netflix all night?. Your job is to fight for rank and file, not kiss the a$$ above you. Keep all your theories,ie. “Broken windows”…people must care first…then change might happen…My advice!!! Teach officers how to be cops, not police…being a cop means you don’t take everything to serious, give a lot of breaks, and take into account all circumstances of the situation. THIS IS THE KEY TO BEING HAPPY IN TODAY’S POLICING CULTURE.

  9. I’ve been doing this for 45 years why I don’t know except for reason 1. Everything you say is right on. Supervisors who don’t know how to supervise. The only reason most want to get promoted is more pay, and not have to work the street. I had the opertunities at move up and had the rabbis to help me, but quite frankly I didn’t want to be a supervisor. Community policing, we have had it for years, the tough but fair cop on the street ho knew everyone on his beat, and people who cared enough about their community to let the police know what was going on in their neighborhood.

    • H.J. thanks for the kind words but why in the hell have you been doing this job for 45 years? Help me understand why you are still doing this job?

  10. Sarge
    If I might add a #4. Stress – internal [home life] or external [work related]. Which would touch on all of the listed items in different degrees.

    Internal….It starts early at home. You met and marry a nice woman and start a family. You find yourself working for a company that is never, ever closed. Then you are never home, you have most to work most weekends, all holidays and it takes years to get a summer vacation. Your bride grew up in a family where the father was home every day at 5 and had family dinner at 6. Not in your house because you work pm’s. You miss birthdays, anniversaries your kids activities, on and on. Sooner or later ‘she’ gets tired of it and leaves.

    External…..I worked for some of the best supervisors and some of the worst. The worst ones had a common background. They did a marginal job in a uniform district, and at the first opportunity transferred to a rubber gun unit. Then spent their on duty time studying for the next supervisor test. You go to work every day with a what will it be he/she doesn’t like now.

    One of my academy class lectures was by a shrink. He said that everyone carries around a bucket about 1/2 full of stress from home life and bills, etc., things that you can not avoid. As your work day continues a little more stress is added then a little more sometimes a lot more. Hopefully you can make it back home to the 1/2 bucket before it over flows.

    A police career is no longer looked at as a career opportunity. After retirement [28 yrs] from a mid-west city of 500k population. I watch the news and think why in the world would anybody want to be a cop now. Doing anything proactive is asking to be thrown under the bus or worse. There is no appreciation or respect for authority. I used to think the only real threat was a bank robbery or party armed call. Now it would be ambushed.

  11. yet another police article that doesn’t address the fact that mass incarceration for profit in privatized prison is human trafficking. instead it says, “pay us more, let us assault and abduct more, and the problem is solved.”
    Big surprise.

    • Human trafficking huh? Liston here Byron, I’m sorry your parents gave you such a lame name. And I’m sorry that your IQ will never reach above 70. Your argument lacks any supporting evidence or logic. My bet is that you’re a part time mall cop who could never pass the police exam.

    • Regurgitating lame talking points from sources like the Huffington Post / MSNBC says more about your lack of critical thinking and awareness of reality than anything else. Everyone is broken hearted that your mom won’t remodel the basement for you, but here is some free constructive philosophical advice for you: Fat, lazy and stupid is no way to go through life son.

  12. It is great to see how you guys turn your law enforcement experiences into sexy and manly jargons. I think you all work hard in your own fields of expertise.

  13. Byron you are blinded with anti law enforcement feelings. In other words your head is far up your ass. Trust me cops fon’t give a shit who owns the jails . We did such a good job, we meaning my department, sheriffs office and outlying police departments with arrest the jail that holds 600 jammed stuffed would come out an tell us the jail was full. We would have to prisoners to other jails. The crime on the street showed it too. Crime was down… now with all the political bullshit departments are lucky if an arrest is made… less contacts with the public and the crime rates show that….so take your anti police bullshit somewhere else.

  14. Very Good article. Under Leadership I would have mentioned the trend of developing leaders on a fast track, resulting in command staff that has spent very, very little time doing the job from an Officer’s prospective.

  15. I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed too.

  16. I’ve been retired for almost two years now after a 30-year career. I agree with all of your points. You are very perceptive.

  17. I’ve been the police for 84( 85 in December) years now, and have seen the landscape change considerably.

    But seriously,Get rid of PERF. Most of the idiotic ideas we have to put up with from management neighbobs and self-promoters originate from them. Law Enforcement is a unique entity, just like the military. Stop trying to shoehorn Civilian CEOs and business Leaders into management positions. Recognize what worked in Great Britain won’t work in the US. And recognize there are bad people out there, that can’t be restored.

  18. One of the things I noticed over the last 10 or 15 years of my career is that departments don’t want pro-active policing, because it brings lawsuit. The jurisdictions in turn pay off these lawsuits rather than fighting them because it is cheaper to do so. No matter wrong or right, just make it go away. I have seen police officers being trained to become glorified report takers, not proactive police officers.When I was a street sergeant I let my troops know that I will do all of the paperwork necessary on your arrest as long as it is legally righteous. That includes handling the complaints, the specials for pepper spray or taser deployment, or any other needed paperwork. BUT, let me catch you dirty or overstepping your legally mandated actions/reactions and you are on your own. Maintain your honor and the honor of those who came before you.

  19. I’ve been retired from the job 10 years. In my 26 years working the job changed almost 100%, mostly since 9-11. Attitudes changed. Social media and cellphone videos highlight the bad things and rarely the good things happening. When a cop did something stupid 25-30 years ago you could help him/her out. Now everything is front page. Everything can be taken out of context. Every move is scrutinized. The people on top are politically motivated and don’t stand up for the rank and file anymore. The politicians jump right up with their apologizing antics to satify their constituents. The pay sucks. Holidays working. Missing family events. Having supervisors who sucked as cops and know nothing about leadership, but got the promotion because of who they know. Putting a summons on a car parked in front of a fire hydrant and being called a pr*ck! Is it really worth putting your life on the line anymore?

  20. 30 years in and retirement is just around the corner.

    You know what this “community policing” stuff, ice cream with a cop and dance-offs and all that does to us? Two things. One, it denigrates the profession. Some of these cops make fools of themselves to try to show we are “human”. That doesn’t serve me well. When I’m up against the worst, most violent type of turd, I want him to be terrified of me. I don’t want him thinking I’m a dancing, ice cream chowing fatass pushover.

    Secondly, it gives regular citizens this idea that our interactions are always supposed to be happy happy joy joy rainbow unicorn milk encounters. Then when we have to jam them up, they think we are bad cops and are more likely to lash out at us, resist, refuse to sign, basically act out.

    This is obviously no good. But it sure makes the liberals feel like they are connecting the police to the community.

    We are already at the point of no return, Sarge. The crime gains of the last 30 years are going bye bye, and all at the hands of those mental midgets who cannot tell the wolf from the sheepdog.

  21. Great article, dead nuts on. However my friend..you don’t have the market cornered on this one!!! I once was on a bridge overpass with a jumper. My drunk ass chief showed up, walked up to me while I was with the jumper…chewed my ass so badly about how my car was positioned that the jumper got off the bridge, looked at me, told me I had it worse than me and got into my car. Proof that an epic ass chewing doesn’t have to last 5 hours to earn its place in history!

  22. Once upon a time, our chief picked a couple of officers (I was one) to travel to a dozen different agencies, mostly in Southern California to study they agencies strengths, weaknesses, innovations and morale. I think that he knew this, but wanted us to bring it back and explain it to the line troops. We discovered a few innovations which we implemented, but mostly, we discovered that everything we considered as problems in our agency were universally problems in the police profession. The grass is greener where you water it… not necessarily at another agency. If an officer finds himself or herself going from agency to agency, being wholely unsatisfied, the answer might be within because if you aren’t going for the opportunity to get that special job, better pay, insurance and retirement, you are spinning your wheels.

  23. Hang in there “still looking”, there are a very few select agencies in the world that are willing to hire and keep an actually quality cop no matter the slander they have gone through. It sounds like your an awesome Sgt but just got the shaft from the department!

  24. I was waiting for someone to mention the people that we are now hiring. Some are stellar and take pride in the job while others ride the clock and only make an arrest when Driver #1 has a warrant. Both make the same pay so Hard Charger becomes disgruntled and looks to go elsewhere while Progressive Discipline keeps the Asshat hanging on for too long.

    By the way, in my day a “Sarge” was a tropical fish that feeds of algae.

    Semper Fi, Salty Sergeant!

    • Robert, brother, It took me 7 years to utter the word “Sarge” but over time I fell victim to the police culture and cop speak.

  25. I retired early from federal service, customs and border protection. My agency could have back to me and had me go through Some medical to treat me for concussions and a few other things instead they left me hanging. I resigned filed my own medical retirement paperwork which was approved. Did leadership care? All I know is three years into my retirement I still get technical questions. There are still supervisors who are being promoted with only 5 years on the job. No previous LEO experience. CBP pays great. We do zero outreach, and watch the news, our leadership fails weekly.

  26. I was a working cop for 30 years and have been retired for 20. I learned to work my beat by getting to know the residents & business people face to face. Today it’s called Community Policing and everyone thinks it’s new, different and the answer to all our problems. As to the bosses I had there were more bad ones than good, but I learned how to be a manager from both (retired as a captain). I put the blame on the current police hate squarely on the shoulders of our former president and the media. Snap judgements absent all the facts are almost always wrong and he should have known better. I’m happy to be retired and worry about those still on the job.

  27. Don’t let the salary fool you. I work in dept where the avg. patrolman salary is 130k. Moral and leadership is in the shitter, our union is in shambles, patrol cars are falling apart (yep, even the new explorers), gossip echoes through the halls, and productivity has never been lower. Promotions are based on a written test, with little to no bearing on ones personal appearance, work ethic, work history, etc. Guys don’t care, just as long as that paycheck clears.

  28. I wish we made of $68k. My take home is about $32 for a detective. Our pay schedule is the same as the sergeants pay schedule. It’s sad.

  29. Amen, but I’ll add, having just retired after 20 years of the “Jerry Springer Show” as I tell all non-cops who ask, I spent my last two years under a Narcissistic Mayor and an equally narcissistic puppet hire Police Chief brought in from out-of-state. These two knuckleheads used Community Policing not only to drive a deeper wedge between the department and an indigenous population, they also took every opportunity to use it as a photo-op for headline news, social media attention and the mayor’s own re-election which thankfully failed. I saw Officers routinely taken from their duties to attend B.S. functions. The Officers knew it was a joke but laughed about it citing that as long as they play ball they will ride under the radar of management.

  30. Great article Sarge! True what Robert says about community policing. It is a philosophy and practice not some catch slogan. Every community needs and wants proactive policing, otherwise the issues they once faced resurface, but only worse. You cant keep applying a bandaid and then ripping it off before the wound heals. Otherwise the criminals comes back with a greater vengeance and more empowered. While strategy does play a role, good ole fashion in your face policing still does have a place in law enforcement. Its too bad that 21st Century Policing does not advocate proactive policing, but instead preaches tolerance and forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, 21st Century Policing has some great merits and changes in law enforcement are often tough to swallow. I am nearing retirement in this career and hoping to promote to executive management soon, where I can hopefully help steer the ship in the right direction. Your article is spot on about why cops are leaving this once illustrious career though. My agency is going through similar pains and I am hoping that good solid leadership from within can steer through the land mines and advance the agency within the newly adopted principled policing (which by the way many agencies, mine included have been doing all along), and right the ship.

  31. One of my favorite quotes from Robert F. Kennedy:

    “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”

    I have never left a job based on pay alone, there were always non-economic reasons, mainly poor management.

    If people think that the police suck now, they will love it in 10 years. It is easy to decrease deadly force incidents, just show up late after everyone is dead or gone.

    Policing is an ugly business. I could write a thesis on the crap I’ve seen and done, but if you have experienced it, I don’t need to lecture. If you haven’t experienced it, you won’t understand.

  32. Sarge,
    Great article. I agree with 95% of it. The one I don’t is pay. Now I truly understand that numerous agencies across the country pay peanuts, and have horrible benefits, but mine wasn’t one of them. I started in 1984 at 40K a year, and all the OT I could eat in the jails. When I retired in 2015, I was a top step patrol sergeant, making 124K a year. My retirement is solid, and my medical is paid for. As I used to tell the newbies, “Please tell me where you can start a career like that in the real world with a high school diploma, and 30 units of screwing around at the local JC.” But that is in the past now. While our pay is good, the very people we serve have undercut law enforcement, whether they know it or not. When they screamed about pension reform, my department had to create a second retirement tier for new hires. If your not fully vested in an additional personal retirement plan, there won’t be much waiting for you when you pull the plug. When the governor “realigns” the state jail population, shifting the responsibility for housing any felon with less than 3 years to the county jail system, overcrowding and early releases become the norm. Of course then California voter approved propositions 47 and 57, essentially making possession of most schedule 1 and 2 drugs a misdemeanor. Of course, then residential burglaries exploded, since using drugs was no longer risky, unless of course, you died. So what was the answer? Redefine what constituted a burglary, and push for more early releases with prop 57. Finally add legalized marijuana, and the undercutting is complete. This is the 4th point I would have added to your article, at least the California edition. Stay salty my friend……

  33. This is one of the reasons, one of many reasons why good candidates are not applying….I sent this to speaker paul ryan’s Facebook page….This bit of news is out all over…you cannot cover up anymore…if you do nothing you need to be investigated and see how far the corruption of our government goes….“We [Charlotesville police] were ordered to bring the rival groups together – and then…”

    A Charlottesville police officer has come forward to express his outrage at being told to “stand down” by the city mayor during violent clashes between protesters.

    The officer also claims the protests, which pitched “white supremacists” against members of Antifa, were “set up” to allow for the groups to ignite into exactly what happened.

    “We [Charlotesville police] were ordered to bring the rival groups together. As soon as they were in contact with each other, we were told to stand down. It was outrageous. We weren’t allowed to arrest anyone without asking the mayor first. We weren’t even allowed to stop the driver as he sped away.“

    “The event was being set up as far back as at least May and it went like clockwork.”

    Notice the officers looking directly at the suspect in his torn-up car, knowing that he had just run over people yet they allow him to continue and make no effort whatsoever to stop him.

  34. I am retiring next March after 35 years of Policing. The reason I have stayed on as long as I have is I have a daughter with Epilespy that is still covered by my insurance until next March. If it wasn’t for my daughter I would have left probably 6 years ago. In 35 years I have seen LEO criticized for all types of actions. However, this latest is the worst I have ever witnessed. It doesn’t matter what your race is, your religion, your culture or sex. If you are LEO “you are wrong!” I used to want to help people. Then I wanted to enforce the laws to provide that help. After being told by several “managers” my job was NOT to help people and it was to enforce ONLY the laws they wanted enforced, I decided to retire. I believe it is going to get a lot worse before ii gets better. When it does, I will simply watch from the sidelines.

  35. Robert…spot on. As mentioned by you and others in this forum, our police force is a sad state of affairs. Salaries, promotion, rewarding excellence, experience and education, in today’s pc world is getting tougher to deal with by the officers on the street. Priorities need adjustments and appropriate responses. My son has been in enforcement for nearly 20 years and because of several mentioned failures in department administration’s to recognize and reward his professional and educational background, for the first time I heard him say that he hates his job, not career. As a young man my advice to him was to find a career not a job. He found that career, but now its become a job, something to pay the bills. I hurt for him.

  36. Juneau Police Dept, (Alaska, but just barely – more of a middle ground between Seattle and Anchorage). It’s a great department, but is seriously short handed. Pays well, great benefits, retirement etc. Lots of overtime too. I know this because my son in law is a Sergeant there and they’re always recruiting. Not the easiest place to live because it is an island, so things tend to cost a bit more. That being said, its gorgeous and if you like the outdoors, fishing, hunting, crabbing there’s never a shortage of something to do.

  37. as I’ve said before I do love your articles because they give me a good insight into what my son is going through and what he does. Just wanted to let you know he’s been an officer for about two and a half years I won’t say what agency he works for it’s in New Mexico is all I will say so for two and a half years of being a police officer he makes $20.73 an hour yep and his department is wondering why they can’t keep officers and everybody is jumping ship. And I do have to wonder why he puts his life on the line every day for that. As I said before some of the horror stories that he has told me I just don’t understand how his Department can justify that kind of pay. It’s very disheartening

    • Thank you Leslie for the kind words. As I have mentioned in other articles, a free market society usually tends to make corrections when a specific occupation fails to keep up with demand. Have a great weekend Leslie!

  38. Good article that describes why I retired two years ago after a little more than 30 years (25 as an investigator). Add to that the reasons enumerated in Why Cops Retire at 50, and it pretty much sums it up.

  39. Great article, Sarge. A few things I wouldn’t mind adding.

    Community Policing
    In the city I work in, Murder Capital of the US, they tout community policing while demanding meaningless stats. The truth is being undermanned, underpaid, and having patrol units getting meaningless one pill arrests puts the entire sector/district at risk. As a patrolman we need to be answering calls, talking with the locals, and store owners/workers. That’s how you get true intel and know what to watch for. While the leadership as clapping the pill chasing patrolman on the back and giving him awards, that officer is putting his district and sector in more risk by taking one more cop off the street to process an arrest that leaves Mr. Thug back on the street in a few hours. The truth is I’ve seen the least amount of violence and crime when patrol officers are all doing their job answering their calls, communicating with citizens and business owners and staying active and watchful in the high drug/violence areas.

    Hands off policing
    We have officers getting charged criminally for putting their hands on a criminal to arrest him. Literally just grabbing a belligerent fool who is disobeying lawful orders and screaming profanities in an officers face while threatening him. Then he strikes the officer, and the officer is charged. What the hell? Literally putting hands on a subject at all gives you an IA number, unless they put their hands behind their back and say please arrest me they are being investigated for assault. How can we work and do our jobs in one of the most dangerous cities in America, when our leadership is cutting off all our tools and putting us in cuffs?

    Justice System
    Our Justice System is a joke in this city. Dozens of violent repeat offenders are released back on the streets with little to no bail. Then when their case goes their are getting “null prossed” “pbj’ed” and suspended sentences at an alarming rate. I’m talking convicted murderers out in 2 to 3 years. How are we supposed to do our job as police when our arrests have 0 impacts. I’ve been told personally, multiple times, I’ll be out be back out tonight, and damn it all if they aren’t telling the truth.

    Our leadership is a straight joke, they cry out about their terrible officers and what they have to work with, throwing us under the bus every time because we have some bad apples. Bad apples are in every occupation, everywhere across this country, to include police. To have your own commissioner talk about how we need to change our policing in a nationalized documentary is the ultimate f$** you. Current leadership are just politicians looking out for themselves who could care less what happens to you.

    The Condition That Shall Not Be Named
    PTSD. COP SUICIDE. They are real, and an epidemic. The police culture is drown your problems in alcohol and women and everything will be ok. Don’t talk about your issues cause if you have “head” issues you are a p**sy and need to drink more or womanize more or emotionally and verbally abuse your spouse and children.
    It’s ok if you’re a veteran and have PTSD but being a cop and dealing with constant adrenaline rushes and traumatic situations is somehow less of a big deal.

    Anyways good article, keep posting the good stuff!

  40. I worked just over 4 years for a 70 man PD. Picked up extra shifts, court overtime the whole 9 yards and I still qualified for WIC. There I am a Police Officer sitting with my wife at the WIC office because I couldn’t afford the formula my kid had to be on otherwise. I just resigned there and moved north where the pay is better. I start with my new agency Monday but something definitely needs to change. You won’t attract anyone, especially those who have family’s to support with pay like that.

  41. From an Aussie viewpoint, I believe we gat paid well for what we do. The pay is theonly reason that I’m still in this job. What I don’t like is the micromanagement. Too many people having an input and too many supervisors with too much time on their hands that pick faults with just about everything that you do. That being said, that never have the time to recognise good work and if someone submits a complaint, it’s all about them in order to preserve public image.
    Totally agree that community policing is in your face. Hassle the crooks to keep the community safer, but the crooks know that they only have to file a harrassment complaint and said supervisor with too much spare time will order us to back off.

  42. I appreciate the nuance here. Completely agree pay is as issue (a casualty of the war on paying government employees as legitimate professionals). You mentioned that you want zero tolerance policing but not abusive policing. How do you mark that line and keep it from being dominated by even well meaning implicit bias?

  43. There are far too many variables to narrow it down as easily as done here. At the end of the Vietnam war era many of us entered law enforcement as a helping profession — community caretaking is a fair phrase to use. But law enforcement changed. We were community policing before it became a buzz phrase. But politicians and others morphed the job from being peace officers to being law enforcement officers (mandatory arrests, policing for profit — I remember when we’d get yelled at for writing too many tickets) with less discretion. Then the transition to the tactical warrior mode in which we expected local police officers to pick up the slack for a sick society that politicians (of BOTH parties) and others helped foster. I’m sure we can all tag a lot of other things on this but it all flows from that. And guess what? At the end of the day the most effective policing remains 1930’s (or even 1830’s, for that matter) beat-cop style policing. It would be difficult to go back to that but we have contorted local policing into what it was never intended to be and then expect unrealistic results.

    I’m not entirely sure what the cure is but some ideas would start at going back to old style policing — be there, interact with the community, set an example to follow and, when necessary, be not afraid to do what has to be done according to the minimum amount of enforcement effort needed. Yes, we all liked a good bust (and even more good war stories) but there was a time when custodial arrests were often seen as a sign of failure — we failed to restore the peace by other means and had to escalate. Obviously there were situations where public safety demanded immediate and decisive forceful action but then we let the politicians and others screw things up to the point where officers became afraid to use lawful force (and I am not even thinking of fatal force here) and the public freaked out when officers did. As for fatal force, yes, we learned that it was better to be tried by 12 than carried by six, but many of these incidents we see today might technically be lawful but some perhaps could have been avoided.

    My 40+ years in criminal justice support the theory that if you take care of your employees they will take care of the public and do a good job. Conversely it seems that when officers aren’t treated well their interactions with the public often suffer. It’s not rocket science — it’s basic management.

  44. Great article!!!!! Former LEO here.

    Another aspect to the problems in policing is cops are no longer making that split second decision of “is it right or not” vs. what the new reality is: “will I get in trouble” “How will the media see it”. The latter two while becoming more and more prevalent are a detriment to cops in my humble opinion.

  45. Now, I may be a bit (read: absolutely am) biased here as an anarchist, and I did like a lot of what you just wrote, but I just have do disagree on one fundamental point: I do believe that your average joe thug causes less harm than you average jackass speeding down a residential street, but maybe that’s just because I think the life of some idiot kid is more valuable than some idiot dude’s gold watch or broken nose or whatever he gets jacked for. Differences in environment may apply.

  46. Great article! Your blogs are usually “right on the money.” I use that phrase, because I think money is the only option to draw good people to our profession. Police work needs doing, but fewer people will consider it because of the assault on it by mass media and the sheeple that buy into the narrative.

    I am finally retiring after 26 years of front line assingments, the last and best being a K9 handler. I spent the last two months of it at a desk due to a (second) shoulder injury from a K9 deployment that hopefully gets fixed (right this time) tomorrow when I have surgery.

    For light duty, they put me in backgrounds and recruiting and it was eye opening. 26 years ago, there were 100+ good candidates trying for every trainee spot, and dozens of laterals available to pick from that weren’t just another Department’s problem trying to move out from under a jacket. Not now. Pickings are slim with only the occasional gem, and every Department around us is also short staffed and fishing in the same little pond. The guy with the best lure will be the one that catches the fish. That lure is money, benefits and perks….

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