‘The Prestige’

‘What is it about Police Now / Direct Entry that attracts those who weren’t interested?’ (in joining via normal means) @Constable_X

‘They didn’t go to uni for a job which doesn’t need a degree, too poor pay and too low prestige. See PN case for change p11’ @MarkJMcKay

I have never thought of policing as a ‘prestigious’ job.

When I changed career from what I could arguably call a successful first career in uniformed services, followed by a short time in the private sector overseas, I certainly didn’t become a cop for the pay either! Like many I took a pay cut to join the job.

I’m not sure why reading the comments by Mark McKay, a Police Now entrant, got my back up so much, (after all I genuinely do appreciate that twitter is not the easiest medium to communicate complicated concepts!) but it did get me reflecting on why I became a cop. We all have different reasons I guess. For me it came down to a few things:

  • A desire to continue in a job that was different day to day.
  • A job that presented challenges that I could learn from the ground up again and take pride in hopefully doing well, drawing satisfaction from the sometimes tough nature of the work.
  • An opportunity that as I moved on in the job to hopefully show I could lead other cops in this environment and make a fist of that too.
  • But most of all I left the private sector to go back to the public sector because I wanted my job to mean something more than the bottom line.

I didn’t join for the prestige…. and I am not sure I want to work with people who did.

Because once I joined I found that despite starting at the ground floor of policing (and arguably it’s engine room – response policing), I loved it. I also found if I worked hard opportunities opened up for me. Indeed for me the harder I worked the luckier I seem to have gotten. Like many I have been dragged away for ‘development opportunities’, projects that whilst I found I was working with great folk really trying to do their best, just solidified for me a few home truths that now kind of drive my thinking on policing. I found out that:

  • Its the ‘engine room’ that makes me most happy in the job.
  • Its being around cops, sergeants and inspectors that handle each call coming into the service that needs police to come and sort it out, even when its not our job.
  • As a Sergeant now I am more interested in how I can positively influence my little part of the policing world and help and develop the cops I work with.
  • For me personally its about constantly seeking to be a better leader and get technically better at my job.

These are the things that make the job fullfilling for me just now. If you follow my timeline you’ll know this week I had some frustrations with back office staff I felt maybe didn’t provide me with the support I needed to do the job. But even despite these frustrations I found it hugely cathartic to share these with other folk doing the same job as me who swore with me, agreed and just generally let me vent! You couldn’t want for better therapy!

No doubt I will move again from frontline policing at some stage to other areas but I hope I still remember what really drives me, gives me the most satisfaction and allows me to stay true to why I do my job.

I’m not saying I am some crack frontline Sergeant, or that my ideals for the job are the ‘only true path’ or some absolute rubbish like that. Far from it, I am learning everyday as a very very junior Sergeant, making my own mistakes along the way – but hopefully only making them once; and at the same time I’m old enough to know that people all join for different reasons.

But there is something that just doesn’t ring true for me that there might exist folk who have been fast tracked into the job that may feel that any other method of entry lacked the ‘prestige’ they needed to derive satisfaction from the work. Perhaps I am being unfair and reactionary to the comments I read today.

For me Vince Lombardi said it best:

‘.. in truth I’ve never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn’t appreciate the grind, the discipline.’

I didn’t become a cop because it was prestigious, I joined because it was hard.


Author: West Coast Response

I'm a Police Sergeant here on the West Coast of Scotland. I love the job and the folk that do it. I enjoy polite debate on policing and criminal justice and am particularly interested in the practical impact of policing policy, police leadership & making the job better for frontline officers.

One thought on “‘The Prestige’”

  1. Spot on.

    “Remember always, a wise man walks with is head bowed, humble, like the dust” – Master Kan, Kung Fu

    Unfortunately the views expressed by the original poster are a product of the ‘me’ generation. Notions of duty, honour, service & sacrifice mean nothing to them.

    This job is largely thinking about others, the victim, the public, your colleagues; not yourself. A DS friend of mine from Skye always used to say ‘think of JOY’ – Jesus, others, yourself. For a large swathe of PN / DE people it’s all about them.

    It saddens me that the job has come to this.

    Liked by 1 person

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