Recently, a friend of mine reminded me that most officers don’t have a problem with the stress that comes from working the streets, but they struggle to deal with the shit that goes on inside the department. I have to agree. Most officers expect criticism from the public, public officials, media, etc., but when the criticism and unrealistic expectations come from within, it can be very unsettling.
As a police officer / First Responder we need to have a place where we feel safe. Where we can laugh, joke, and vent without fear of reprisal. Ideally, one of those places would be our place of employment, Unfortunately for many, that situation doesn’t exist.
For a long time employee (10+ years), organizational stress can be especially disconcerting. Why? Because they feel trapped. Rarely can a first responder with rank move from one employer to the next and make the same amount of money. So, unless they are willing to take a significant cut in salary, they are stuck. Why? Because the majority of First Responders and everyone else base their current life style on their current income.
Answer: I wish I had an answer that would solve all of your organizational stress issues, but I don’t. I will offer that you might try the following:
- Continue to focus on your performance, not the performance of others (supervisors, command staff, etc.). You cannot change their behavior and sadly many don’t know they suck as supervisors and / or don’t have the desire to change.
- Take care of yourself (mentally, physically and spiritually). If you are “well,” you will be in a better position to handle the bullshit.
- Be mindful (live in the present). Too often we spend our time thinking about the past, which there is nothing we can do to change and /or the future which hasn’t happened yet.
Chief’s / Command Staff: You set the tone for how your subordinates treat their employees. Demand professionalism, but have a heart!
Supervisors: Typically, officers / First Responders don’t quit because of departmental bullshit, they quit because you treated them like bullshit!