The Risk and Reward of Being a Police Officer


Carolina K. Smith

Long exposure to capture the full array of police car lights. 12MP camera.

Police officers in our community do more than people know. Behind closed doors, they deal with the nitty-gritty things the general public would rather not see. These officers also put their lives at risk every day when they go to work, but the crazy thing is they risk their lives to keep us safe. It takes a special type of person to want the job of a police officer as they have long days to go with the stress of the job.  

Many people know that police officers put their lives at risk but not many know everything that goes on within the job. According to Police One, a popular source for insight about police officers, the stress of being an officer is taxing on for their health. Also according to Police One, many officers experience trouble with family life as they carry the stress of the job with them. According to a study done at The University of Buffalo some health problems they are more at risk for include: high blood pressure, insomnia, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). All these health problems connect back to the stress of the job due to the high-intensity situations they are put into. This stress comes from a reaction called fight or flight. According to Responding with Fight or Flight, a website to explain the fight or flight process, officers who go through this reaction will produce more energy and strength than they are used to. According to Science Daily many officers may not realize they are injured which can cause further damage to the injury. Officers are also faced with the tough task of seeing people after they have passed whether it’s at a tragic car accident or in a criminal investigation. They will have to deliver the news nobody wants to hear, that a loved one has passed away in a tragic accident. These emotions and sights can stick with officers which can cause insomnia as they think about whether they could have done anything differently to have a better outcome. 

Aside from all of the negative parts of being a police officer they do have parts that can be rewarding. The job of a police officer can make someone feel like they are part of a family. The people they work with every day are the ones keeping the public safe. The brotherhood and sisterhood that is formed during the job is something that can’t be broken. Saving lives is one of the biggest rewards there is. It’s a sense of doing something good for the community; it’s being able to tell loved ones their relative is safe and will be able to go home. One of the more repeated rewards is knowing that they are keeping the community and people within the community safe. 

I had the chance to go on a ride along with the Milford Police Department from 6pm-2am. According to Sgt. Dan Campbell of the Milford NH Police Department it’s an important shift as more than 50% of calls come between the time 6pm and 2am. The police officers are always trying to be proactive to help keep people safe. During the ride along we faced many calls and did a few traffic stops. One call we received was at about 8 pm so it was dark out and the call details were that a suspicious ford truck was running in the parking lot of a storage unit. When we arrived on scene the gentleman immediately hopped out of the truck and walked towards us. When a person approaches a police officer on a stop, it can raise a red flag for the officers safety. Despite the officers’ concerns, they talked to the person and nothing came out of this call.  

The next call we went on didn’t go as smoothly. We were dispatched to an apartment at about 10:15 pm with reports of a domestic disturbance in progress. When we arrived we were accompanied by another officer and as we made entry into the apartment we could hear screaming and yelling. By separating the two people, the situation calmed down. It was apparent that the male party had been drinking and was intoxicated. The female party in this situation was physically harmed as she had a black eye and visible red marks on her arm. This call ended in the male being arrested then being transported to the nearest jail where he would wait for his court date.  

The last interesting event of the night came from us noticing a suspicious vehicle in the Keyes Field parking lot. The time was around 11:30 pm, well after the park has closed. We drove down the long road and turned on the blue lights. The car then started to back up, then quickly stop. When we made contact with the driver, she said they were playing Pokémon Go. The officer ran the driver’s license, and everything came back normal. Since we had no indicators of illegal activity the driver was let go with a warning for trespassing. After that call, our night had come to an end and we made it home safely. 

The job of a police officer is dangerous and comes with many pros and cons regarding their health and the effects they can have on the community. It takes a very special person to be a police officer. People within the community should thank the officers for the service they do because without them the towns and cities where people live would be very different. The police officers within our community put themselves at risk every day when they put the uniform on and hop into their patrol car. As a community, the best thing we can do to help them is to just cooperate and be respectful, as respect and honesty go a long way.