PERHAPS IT WEIGHS only 2 ounces overall. Large ones may run to 4 ounces. But when that badge is pinned on, there is a weight unknown to most law enforcement officers. The true weight of the badge is not overcome by muscle, not found in the gym, not measured on a scale. This weight requires a strength and conditioning for which few officers are trained. The badge is not just pinned on a chest, it is pinned on a lifestyle. The heaviness of the badge makes the law enforcement officer different from other professionals. Over the course of the last ten years, working as psychologists with police officers, we have identified ten areas which make the badge heavy.
10 REASONS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ARE DIFFERENT
1) Law enforcement officers are seen as authority figures. People deal with them differently and treat them differently, even when they are not working. When a problem occurs, everyone looks to the officer to "take charge," to "solve the problem." Some say the cop is never off duty. Even when the officer is not working there is a tendency to attack problems and take charge. Sometimes taking charge is not preferable, and can cause particular strains in our world where many people like to linger with problems, never really solving anything. Recognizing the difference between a "problem solving" situation, where action is desirable, and a more passive situation, where action may alienate others, is difficult for the cop. 2) They are isolated. The wearing of a badge, uniform and gun makes a law officer separate from society. This segregation leads to many psychological effects which research shows can create negative personality traits. For example, psychological research shows the wearing of a uniform will tend to make any person de-humanize people who are without a uniform. Just wearing a badge or a gun can cause people to act more aggressively. These are changes that could happen to anyone wearing a uniform, badge and gun, thus these factors are expected to operate in some way on the police officer. Many officers suggest there is a "role," or "mask" which they put on along with their uniform. Sometimes this role leaks into their personal lives and changes the course of their relationships and leisure time.
3) Law enforcement officers work in a quasi-military, structured institution. There are mental health concerns associated with working within a "quasi-military structure" and other mental health concerns of working in an "institution." Military organizations require the sacrifice of the individual for the good of society. The "individual" is not a consideration; the "goal" of the group is paramount. In a military organization, the focus is on punishing the individual if he is not up to standards. It is a de-humanizing process to recognize that you are only valued as a part of a machine. The _institution' takes the same attitude, only a step further. In an institution, you are locked in a set process and the process is more important many times than, not only the individual, but also the goal. When an officer does a remarkable job of police work, perhaps even saves a life, he can still be reprimanded if he doesn't file the proper paperwork. The paperwork describing an action in many cases is more important to the institution than the action itself. Both the quasi-military nature of police work and the functioning within an institution combine for a mental health situation that is quite undesirable and very stressful.
4) Shift work is not normal. The "rotating shift" schedule is very taxing on an officer's life. Our bodies are adjusted on what is called "circadian schedules" which is a repetitive daily cycle. Our bodies like to have a regular eating time, sleeping time, waking time, etc. An officer doing shift work never gets a chance to stay on a schedule. This upsets his physical and mental balance in life. The changing work schedule also upsets the routine patterns that are needed in healthy marriage and...
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