“Protect and serve—that used to be the law enforcement officer’s motto. It’s what the community they served asked of them. There was a respect, an admiration, a mutual understanding for the law enforcement officer and the challenges they faced. It’s the reason most of them put on the uniform.
The 21st century has given way to changes in the perceptions and expectations of the law enforcement officer. Today they function within a much different dynamic. Issues of national security, mental illness, the growing substance abuse epidemic, changing political and social trends, and conflicting legal theories are redefining—or attempting to redefine—the community perception of the local police officer.
This is taking a toll on the profession—and usually not in a good way. Where there used to be respect, there is now hostility. Where there used to be trust, there is now suspicion. This perception is not shared by the public at large. Law enforcement professionals are still viewed very favorably by the vast majority of citizens.
The “Protect and Serve” motto may still inspire the law enforcement officers of today, but the challenges they face are causing ever-increasing stress on the individual law enforcement officer—and it’s taking a toll on the profession. Retirements are sky-rocketing. Recruitment is difficult. Long-time officers are simply walking away from the job before reaching retirement. They’ve had enough.
This stress affects more than just the job. It affects their homes, their marriages, their family relationships, and their spiritual, physical, and mental well-being. These effects are often ignored. It’s not the nature of the law enforcement officer to admit these things exist, which only exacerbates the problem. Administration, front-line supervisors, and line officers will find value in this course–from their approach to their subordinates and peers, their life away from the “job,” and their interactions with the public.
This course seeks—in a hard-hitting way—to confront the stress, recognize its causes, and help alleviate its effects. It seeks to inspire the building of relationships and support systems that encourage and strengthen law enforcement professionals. By honestly examining the causes (whether personal, professional, organizational, or political) and recognizing the symptoms we can minimize the stress that leads to “professional burnout” and keeps the law enforcement professional healthy and committed to their community.”