Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Guest blog: Baloo!


I was recently invited by Kevin (a.k.a. Sunshine) to share a bit about myself, my perspective about the academy, and share a few words concerning something most people don’t like to think about when deciding if law enforcement is the right career for them.

I attended college in Minnesota, married my lovely wife, and moved to Nebraska for graduate school. During this time, I had the opportunity to train as a post-collegiate athlete, and finished my athletic career in the finals of the 2004 USA Olympic Trials. Following graduate school we moved to Colorado, where I spent a few years in the insurance industry. For those of you who may be reading this from a cubicle, you will easily understand why I decided to leave insurance behind and focus on a career in law enforcement.

Overall, the academy experience has been a very positive one. Every day brings the constant challenge of trying to learn new information, while attempting to retain all of the other “stuff” taught from day one – this can be difficult and frustrating. If you have a competitive spirit, you can only imagine sometimes how discouraging this can be when you want to know it all, yet fail miserably! The reality of the academy life is that you do the best you can, take the punches when they come, and then get up and keep trying to improve – NEVER QUIT! One of the great things about a law enforcement career is the variety. There are some days you feel on top of the world and others when you wonder if you’re going to have a job at the end of the day.

This brings me to an obvious point: “This is not an easy job!” Not only is the training physically and mentally challenging, but it is important to acknowledge and consider what will be required of you besides “just helping people.” I imagine that every person has somewhat different motives for choosing law enforcement. For some of you, you may see an investigator on television that gets to a crime scene, evaluates it, processes it, and solves the crime in less than an hour and think, “Wow, that’s cool, where can I get me one of those suits, a gun and badge?” Others may not be quite that na├»ve, but still don’t have a full understanding of the sacrifice that law enforcement officers make to serve their community. Let’s evaluate some realities of the job that we discuss in the academy, and see if we can take an honest look at what you may encounter on a day-to-day basis.

First, after successfully completing the 20 week training academy, you may spend some time working in the jail. It is important to know that you will work every day with people who have violated a law, or two…or ten. These crimes range from murder, rape and assault, to failure to pay child support. These individuals may want to harm you and/or your family, and will most likely try to manipulate you, and/or see if they can compromise your professionalism over days or years. You will be directly exposed throughout your career to bodily fluids (i.e. blood, urine, spit, poo, puke, etc.), funky smells, ‘R’ rated images, death, and drugs. It is possible that your life will be in jeopardy at least once in your career, and that you will be attacked, assaulted, and/or harassed to varying degrees on more than one occasion. There will be times when you will be required to work long hours, work by yourself in secluded areas of the county, and face off with pit bulls, or even Chihuahuas! And for those of you who want to become an investigator, or work in a specialty unit, you will get the privilege of carrying a pager, which allows you to be called back to work at all hours of the day or night.

According to the psychologists that visited our academy, 75% of all male law enforcement officers will be divorced at least once, and for the females out there…well…if I remember right, that number rises to about 99.9%. Pretty crazy, huh?

So, now that I’ve provided you will a little reality, do you still have a desire to begin the long journey required to become a Deputy Sheriff of Jefferson County? I hope so, because it has the potential, beyond the seemingly dismal reality :), to bring an incredible reward. The truths of what we may encounter day to day are intense, but the pride, honor, and potential to influence others at a critical time in their lives are worth the risk and sacrifice. May you be blessed as much as I have been on your journey to becoming a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy.