In the past, a police officer's personal life was pretty
much his own.  I'm using the masculine pronoun
[his], because, in the past, nearly all police officers
were male.  Police officers were expected to keep
their personal affairs in order.  There was little
tolerance for personal crises which adversely
affected other police officers and their daily work
environment.  Of course, since police officers were
working in a single gender environment, they had a
tremendous support group.  

Police commanders rarely became involved in an
individual police officer's personal crisis.  When a
commander became aware of a crisis, or a perceived
crisis, in a police officer's personal life, he'd simply
make it known, to those subordinate to him, that
he wanted the problem addressed…and solved.  If
an effort was not already underway, that's when
the police officer's immediate supervisor and fellow
police officers would swing into action.

A lot is made of the fact that police officers deal
with some extremely stressful situations in their
work environment…and that's true.  But…police
officers are just people, and they experience the
same kinds of crises in their personal lives as
anyone else.  Many would argue that the police
officer's work environment contributes to, and
exacerbates, the seriousness and potential damage
from a personal crisis which would otherwise be less
were it not for the police officer's working
environment.  This goes right back to my point that
the police officer's working environment can be a
very positive factor when confronting a personal
crisis.  The truth is that police work is a very
convenient causal excuse for any number of
personal crises in police officers' lives.

When people talk about personal crisis, they tend
to miss the meaning of "personal."  The vast
majority of personal crises — for anyone — will
involve a personal relationship with a person of the
opposite sex.  It doesn't matter whether the cause
of the crisis is financial; work related or whether the
primary cause arises from unique circumstances
within the personal relationship.  The severity of the
crisis will depend upon how the crisis affects the
personal relationship.

Again…in the past…and before the crushing advance
of political correctness, police officers were quick to
support their own and do everything in their power
to provide good counsel to their  fellow police
officers.  The biggest advantage of any single
gender work environment is its ability to absorb a
multitude of views.  Police work used to be unique in
this regard.  A police officer could receive counsel
ranging from thoughtful to the absurd, but the
police officer had the advantage of evaluating his
crisis in the light of honest counsel.

Today, the absence of the single gender work
environment, and the onslaught of political
correctness has placed the personal crises of police
officers squarely within the domain of the Personal
Crisis Industry.  The informal peer counseling of the
past is now not only unwelcome, but it's also
dangerous to any police officer who might offer
counsel to a fellow police officer who is experiencing
a personal crisis.

When you begin your police career, you're going to
see a lot of police officers in crisis.  If you're a
relatively self sufficient individual, you're going to
view most of the "crises" you observe as just
everyday, normal problems people have.  While your
predecessors would have quickly verbalized that
view without fear of retaliation, you won't enjoy the
same freedom to express your views.
One of the greatest benefits of being a police officer
is the opportunity to view social behavior at its best
and worst; albeit, the worst far outweighs the
best.  However, that's good, because you see, first
hand, the often disastrous consequences that
result from irresponsible personal behavior.

So, why is irresponsible behavior so tolerated, and
even acceptable, in so many parts of the society
you serve?  The short answer is, it's profitable.  A
growing economy combined with doctors, lawyers,
all kinds of advocates, and a runaway healthcare
system have made personal crisis a multi-billion
dollar industry.

However, the personal crisis industry is suffering
the same growing pains any industry suffers from
fast and furious growth.  Any infrastructure is only
as good as its ability to handle the volume for which
it's designed.  When the volume exceeds the
design, things start to become complicated.

Police officers have always been at risk of being
adversely affected psychologically by situations and
circumstances that come with the territory.  Some
may become physically ill from some of the things
they simply witness.  In the past, a police officer
either put all the awful things into perspective, or
the police officer would resign and look for another
line of work.  Peer pressure contributed significantly
to weeding out those who were psychologically
unsuited for police work.  That pressure was rarely
mean spirited.  Instead, the pressure was applied in
good faith with the welfare of the individual police
officer as the primary factor.  Of course, since police
officers are so dependent upon one another, the
group's welfare was also of paramount importance.

Things weren't perfect.  Some police officers would
succumb to stress and emulate, in various degrees,
some of the irresponsible behavior they observed in
others on a daily basis.  However, most would
disdain such behavior, and they would consciously
work to prevent similarly destructive behavior from
entering their personal lives.  In other words, they
learned from their observations.

Today, the weeding out process by peer pressure
has pretty much come to a halt.  To ever increasing
degrees, it's now acceptable for police officers to be
just as weak and dependent as the next person.  
You might ask the question, "What about the pre-
employment psychological testing?"  Good
question.  Most, if not all police departments, now
require psychological evaluation of people seeking to
become police officers.  Of course, the primary
purpose of pre-employment psychological testing is
to identify the aggressive personalities among us.  
Pretty much everything else can be fixed later on by
the Industry…or so some believe.

There are two exceptions to the "fix it later"
category.  Domestic violence and sexual harassment
are gender specific zero tolerance items.  Both of
these transgressions will prevent your employment
as a police officer in the first place.  If they occur
post employment, you'll find no sympathetic
counseling solutions from the Industry.  If you have
to ask what is meant by "gender specific," you'll
have to work on your powers of observation.

Every person will have a personal crisis, from time
to time, in his or her life.  These occurrences are
normal and inevitable.  Normality applies when
you're subjected to a personal crisis which is
beyond your ability to control.  Obviously, these
crises would include actions by others close to you
which may cause you stress and worry in varying
degrees.  Ill health or death of a family member or a
close friend comes in at the top of that list.
Personal Crisis
"Any infrastructure is only as good as its ability
to handle the volume for which it's designed."
~ Barry M. Baker
In case you haven't noticed, you're living in a
personal crisis society.  As a police officer, you'll
deal with some kind of crisis nearly every day of
your career.  It's always been that way for police
officers.  The biggest risk you face — even bigger
than risk to your physical safety — is becoming a
casualty of the ever increasing personal crisis mania.

Today, personal courage is expressed in some
pretty perverse ways.  You're told it's okay if you're
as weak and inadequate as the next guy.  An entire
industry has been built around personal crisis, and
police officers are an ideal target for this burgeoning
industry.  The next time you watch your favorite
cop show on television, take note of how much time
is devoted to the personal crises of the cop cast.
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker