Why Cops/Soldiers are Different


PERHAPS IT ONLY WEIGHS 2 ounces overall, but when that badge or insignia is pinned on, or when you put it on, there is a weight (experienced)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. The weight for soldiers is similar when deployed, wearing BDUs and/or with all their gear - in often times deplorable conditions with tremendously long shifts/tours of hyper-vigilance. This weight requires a strength and conditioning for which few officers or soldiers are adequately trained. The badge is not just pinned on a chest nor is the M-4 merely slung over a soldiers weak-side shoulder. It is pinned and slung on a lifestyle. The heaviness and responsibility of this lifestyle makes the law enforcement officer and the soldier different from other professionals.

Here's ten of the reasons we have gathered from talking with the brotherhood. If you have thoughts, we will update information like this regularly. Please contact us and share your thoughts, ideas and concerns.


You are authority figures. People deal with you differently, even when they are not working. When a problem occurs, everyone looks to you to "take charge," to "solve the problem." You know that you are never off duty. Even when not "on duty" there is a tendency for you 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 or soldier. "For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." ~Romans 13:4


You are generally isolated. The wearing of a badge, uniform and gun makes you 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. "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."~Romans 14:7-8


Law enforcement officers work in a quasi-military, structured institution. Soldiers are in the most structured institution known to man. There are mental health concerns associated with working within this environment. 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 for both LE and soldiers combine for a mental health situation that is quite undesirable and very stressful. "Praise be to the LORD my Rock,who trains my hands for war,my fingers for battle."~Psalm 144:1


Shift work is not normal. Protracted deployments are not normal. The "rotating shift" schedule is very taxing. 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 family development. Strong marital and family development is based on rituals, like dinners together, "inside jokes," repeated activities, etc. The rotating shift worker has less chance to develop these rituals and his relationships suffer. This predisposes the officer's and soldier's family to potential problems ranging from divorces, to children acting-out. In fact our divorce rates and suicide rates are higher than the general populace as a result. A Law Enforcement Officers are twice as likely to die by their own hand than that of offenders. Police are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. Police divorce rates are 60-75 percent from around our country compared to 50% in the general population. You are 5 times more likely to commit suicide when something goes wrong with your marriage and 7 times more likely to commit suicide when something goes wrong at your jobs! Apparently, you love your jobs more than your wives! A soldier's divorce rate has been up almost 80% since 2003 - USA today and suicide is up 26% since 2003. "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, he name of the LORD is to be praised." ~Psalm 113:3


Camaraderie can be a two-edged sword! Our jobs nurture a sense of teamwork and unity with co-workers, what was once called "esprit de corps." The fraternity helps us on the job feel secure about getting the needed support in dangerous situations. It also stimulates a sense of belonging that can create an "us and them" view of the world. This makes our "clique" harder to leave when retiring and makes us more protective of each other. It also makes it more difficult to accept someone within the fraternal organization leaving or being killed.Think back to how it affected you when you lost a fellow officer or soldier. "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." ~1 Peter 3:8


Even the stress is different. We have a different kind of stress in our jobs, called "burst stress." Burst stress means there is not always a steady stressor, but at times, there is an immediate "burst" from low stress to a high stress state. In other words, we go from complete calm, to high activity and pressure in one "burst." It has been said that LE is 90% sheer boredom and 10% pure adrenalin madness, the same could be said for deployed military. The normal stress situation for most of the rest of the work force consists of a stress building process that can be either reduced or adapted to before it gets "out of control." This is not the case for police or soldiers, because "out of control" can happen in seconds. Our jobs are more reactive, than proactive. We cannot usually control entrance into most situations we face, unlike most people who get warnings. We have to react, not prevent problems. It is difficult to defend against this burst stress. "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life." ~2 Corinthians 1:8


We are expected to in constant emotional control while hyper-vigilant. Firefighters have alternate jobs when they are not "sleeping till they get hungry and eating till they get sleepy."?Our side jobs are almost always overtime or security related.? We must be hyper-vigilant at all times - it takes its toll. We also have jobs that require extreme restraint under highly emotional circumstances. We are told when we are extremely excited, we have to act or remain calm. We are told when we are nervous; we still have to be in charge. We are taught to be stoic when emotional and we are programmed to interact with the world in a role. The emotional constraint of the role takes tremendous mental energy, much more energy than expressing true emotions. When the energy drain is very strong, it may makes us more prone to exhaustion outside of work, such as not wanting to participate in social or family life. This energy drain can also create a sense of job and social burnout. "Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." ~Psalm 62:5


There are few gray areas. On the street or in battle, we work in a fact-based world with everything compared to written law. Right and wrong is determined by a standard. Police and soldiers have a set way of going about gathering the proper evidence to do what they must for the mission and to justify our actions because they represent the "good and right side." In the real world, clear rights and wrongs are not as likely to occur. The newspapers are an opinion-based system, the court system is an opinion-based system and, needless to say, relationship decisions and proper parenting techniques are opinion-based systems. Adjusting from right and wrong, black-and-white systems, to opinion-based systems is very difficult and requires a complete change in mental attitude. "Since you are my rock and my fortress,?for the sake of your name lead and guide me." ~Psalm 31:3


We are prone to be very cynical and negative. We see the worst part of society - the criminal, the abuser of the rules, the cowardly insurgent or homicide bomber. This is almost certain to skew our opinions on the character of the average human being. It creates a cynicism, a critical view of the world. It is hard to adjust to trusting a fellow human being when so much of the day is spent with people who are not trustworthy and generally scumbags. It is hard to believe in positive intentions of people, when the day is spent with people who are intending to hurt each other or hurt you. This lack of trust can show up in the way we deal with people on a personal level, with neighbors, with a spouse. It can even show up in the way our children are raised, as parents we may tend to be stricter in discipline and more careful with privilege.???"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." ~Matthew 7:2


You are the Tip of the Spear. You are on the bleeding edge. You deliberately have chosen to be in this position.You see the worst side of everyone and everything and yet still are required to function in society as husbands, fathers and sons.? You handle everyone else's major life problems and you've seen things - you've done things, that perhaps no one else would or will ever understand or fathom - yet you stand for everything right in this world - you are the real heroes of this society - not the sports stars, movie stars or politicians. "The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies." ~Isaiah 42:13