We all know someone whose kid wants to be a cop someday. The image of a police officer we commonly encounter in the media is one that’s associated with action, adventure, and danger – stuff that kids tend to find exciting. In real life, most law enforcement work involves a bunch of more ordinary tasks on an everyday basis. Yet this doesn’t mean the job is any less dangerous; some of a cop’s daily routines pose the highest risk.
If you’ve ever held a serious interest in becoming a police officer, you know that they train you to handle dangerous situations. But are you ready to withstand the everyday risks of the job? Here are four common dangers you should be prepared for.
Law enforcement officers of all stripes tend to have one thing in common – they spend a lot of time on the road. Whether you’re on routine patrol duty, engaged in pursuit, or enforcing traffic regulations, you’ll be continuously exposed to the risk of vehicle-related accidents. It’s no wonder that over recent years, traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death in the force.
Not only should you embody traffic safety and responsible driving practices, but be attuned to other motorists and give deliberate signals as to what you’re doing. Check that your emergency lights and police siren are in good working order and wear a seatbelt each time you go out.
Cops have to be physically fit, and while not every officer gets assigned to do dangerous work, you still have to take your training seriously. If your department doesn’t conduct regular drills, you have to stay motivated and keep working out. This will help you stay in shape and be ready for the occasional hazardous situations that require high-intensity activity.
Injuries tend to happen when you haven’t been maintaining regular exercise, and when you’re fatigued. Conditioning is about being steady and consistent. Avoid letting your irregular work schedule affect your workout and listen to your body; don’t push yourself.
The long work hours, shifting schedules, and often poor ergonomics of police work can lead to irregular sleeping habits and various bodily aches. Not only does this make it that much harder to work out the next morning, but it can also encourage unhealthy eating habits. Beat the stereotype of the doughnut-loving cop; watch your diet, and observe proper nutrition. And make sure to prioritize getting the sleep you need.
Mental health issues
While you may be aware of the risk of emotional trauma and PTSD as a result of violence or dangerous situations encountered in the line of work, keep in mind that your everyday duties as a cop also put you at risk for mental health issues. High levels of stress, anxiety, work-related pressure, and possibly a lack of emotional connection or support, can all contribute to psychological suffering.
In an environment where you could be surrounded by type-A personalities or where being emotionally open is discouraged, you must seek help and support – consult with a professional if necessary. Resilience training can also be effective at maintaining your mental wellness.
Police work will always be fraught with danger, but while violent encounters may be rare, everyday dangers are a constant. Learn the risks and prepare yourself as you get ready to join the force and serve your community.