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"Hey Rookie" - Advice on How to Make It to Retirement | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

“Hey Rookie” – Advice on How to Make It to Retirement

It’s hard for me to believe, but 2017 means I have entered my 20th year with my current department. When you consider prior service, I have been carrying a badge longer than today’s recruits have been alive. When I started, retirement was so far off, I hardly gave it a thought, believing I would be doing this forever. Now, as it draws ever closer to ending, I wonder how I made it this far. If only I had known then what I know now.

Despite what I thought 20 years ago or believe today, I have made it. While I do not intend on hanging it up just yet, I have done something that, in the beginning, seemed almost impossible. With that in mind, I would like to share some advice – simple tips to help the current new guys on the straight and narrow plugging away until they, too, can see the end is closer than the beginning.

  1. Always go home – I know you hear it all the time, but you can’t hear it enough. You can’t always control what happens, but try to control how you respond so you can do what is necessary to end every shift on your feet.
  2. Give 110% every time – In the beginning, you will want go on every call. Then you might only want exciting calls, and finally, the exciting calls don’t sound so exciting anymore. If this happens, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your priorities. It might be your 10th fender bender of the week, but it’s probably the only time those involved will need police assistance, so give them the same service you gave number one.
  3. Have a release – Most rookies eat, sleep and live the job. This is good to a point – but only for a little while. After that, it leads to burn out, broken relationships and eventually an inability to walk away. Have some way to let go, forget the job and recharge.
  4. Do you part and don’t worry about those who don’t – One of the hardest lessons for me to learn, and one which caused a great deal of heartburn until I did, is that I can’t control who else does or doesn’t do their job. This is most commonly an issue when it comes to the courts. We can catch them, we can collect evidence and we can testify. What we cannot do is keep bad guys from getting cushy deals, light sentences or 2nd chances for the 3rd time. You can get pissed but you can’t take it personally – not if you know you did your part.
  5. Don’t forget why you took the oath- Law enforcement has changed a lot in the last 20 years and will probably change even more in the next 20. No matter how bleak things look, how much other seem to misunderstand or how much mud gets flung your way, remember why you took a job most others would run from. I’ll share a tip I heard from an early instructor “Do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason, and you can’t go wrong.”

Look me up in another 20 and I’ll buy you a beer – check the fishing pier or tree stand depending on the season!

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

2 thoughts on ““Hey Rookie” – Advice on How to Make It to Retirement

  1. Hello,

    Congratulations are in order. I agree with everything that you have written and I believe it is sage advice for everyone still on the job.


    Allen L. Hill

  2. I agree. Family first, Job comes second. Thank you for your article.

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