What Did You Do After Leaving The Police Service?
It has now been a little over a year since quitting policing, and in this time I have learned a number of important life lessons, I’ve grown a much stronger relationship with my spouse, really revved up my physical capabilities and have changed my views on quite a few things. I have received many messaged from readers of my first post about why I quit policing, which has forced me to reflect a lot on my decision. So I thought I would share a bit about why I don’t regret my decision to quit being a police officer.
If you’re interested in a deeper dive of my reasoning for leaving, some of the realities I learned about policing, and where I am today.
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Finding Work After Policing
For anyone who follows our blog or Facebook page, you may know that after quitting our jobs, we sold almost everything we owned and moved abroad, landing us in Chile, a country neither of us had visited before. In a new country and not knowing Spanish, my search for work after policing was a little tough. Of course, everyone told me “don’t worry, you’ve got over five years of ‘professional experience.'” But the more and more jobs I applied to, the more I debated pulling my policing experience off my resume, and the more I started using stories and examples from other areas of my life (volunteer work, athletics, starting races, etc.) during interviews and on applications. To be honest, I found people weren’t really sure what to do with a story from that family fight you responded to, or that drug dealer you once investigated. I’ve recently wrote in detail about my experiences finding work after policing, and more specifically why I took police officer OFF my resume.
Does Being A Police Officer Affect Your Relationships?
Another significant change I noticed after leaving the police force, was the kind of relationship I had with my now wife, Melissa. This one shouldn’t come as a huge shock to anyone as the stats have shown that 60-70% of police relationships end in divorce. Why the change? It may have been due to us both working at home, so were now spending quite literally 24hrs a day together. It may be due to the fact moving abroad took away many other “comforts” or “familiarities.” But there was absolutely something to not coming home every night and sharing all the crap I had to deal with that day, complaining about the system and how dysfunctional it was, or rushing to bed (at all hours of the day) because my next shift started in 12 hours. There was definitely a negative energy that I was able to shed when I left the police, and this opened up time and room for deeper conversations about our beliefs, values and desires. The kind of things that shape our personalities, not simply the type of things that make up our identity.
Health Improvements After I Left The Police
I mentioned in my first post how the emphasis put on physical fitness was almost embarrassing. Well since leaving the shift work environment, the clunky “sam brown” belt, and other stressors that come with working as a police officer, I have noticed huge improvements in my health and fitness. Training for ultra marathons can be tough when you have to do hard intervals or a 2-3 hour run before an 11 hour night shift, wearing 10 pounds of gear on your hips, and let’s face it, spending 80% of your time either sitting in a car or sitting at a desk is not the healthiest. So by eliminating these, we’ve been able to ramp up our training so much actually that we’ll be taking on a 200-mile race this year, our longest race distance ever! Understanding long distance running might not be for everyone however, we’ve also branched into other things, developing our skills in a lot of bodyweight gymnastics and other more advanced yoga movements.
Now explaining the health changes is a little more difficult, and I’m not going to go into anything major, but since quitting policing most of my stress indicators such as canker sores, digestive pains, and acne, have all but disappeared. And when they do revisit, I can almost always pinpoint attribute them to a single “stressful email” or even a single food I ate. Dealing with it or eliminating it the next day, symptoms gone, just like that. I can’t even imagine returning to the police work environment and letting these types of “small things” manifest and deteriorate my body slowly over the years. To me it’s just not worth it, even if they do pay you an extra $1.20 per hour during night shift. (Literally, thats it!)
Have I Changed As a Person?
Whether it was the police environment or perhaps even the city of Edmonton, Alberta, but since leaving it all there have been a number of small but significant changes I myself have noticed but so have my family and friends.
- I hardly swear anymore
- I’m nowhere near as cynical
- I am SO much more relaxed when driving
- My mood and energy levels are more consistent and “more uplifting” (as Mel puts it!)
What Life Lessons Have I Learned?
There have been so many, but something that I have noticed/learned since quitting policing, is that it’s fine, and sometimes even beneficial to go against the grain and “break the rules” every now and then. You see, in the police world, you follow the rules or you get in trouble. Even if you’re actions got the job done faster than if you sat in the “paralysis by analysis” norm of policing. There are three police officers I used to work with and knew quite well. They were all phenomenal cops, in part because they were not scared to make a quick decision to get the job done. This, unfortunately, got them in trouble. Despite being incredibly smart and knowledgeable, as well as reactive and capable of leading others in stressful situations, the police service penalized them for not standing in line and following their ineffective ways of dealing with things.
I have always been the type of person who will follow rules, but when an opportunity arises that could be handled differently, more efficiently than before, I will go against rules and take that action. Since leaving the straight-laced police service, this skill has landed me my current job, incredible partnerships to help me race in different countries, published articles in Canadian and American magazines, and I would never again want to be forced into that mold that required you to talk a certain way and act a certain way. The rest of the world is trying to stay with the times, encouraging innovation and new ways of thinking about things or doing things, I think it’s time the policing world caught up and acknowledged the way they do many things is sub par.
Closing Thoughts On Life After Quitting Policing
I’d like to stem this closing thought off a quote from Time Ferris: “It’s better to design an ideal lifestyle and then fill in the gaps with high-output streamlined work than to fill the calendar with as much as possible and hope an acceptable lifestyle will be the by-product.” My life after quitting policing has been focused more on designing my ideal lifestyle and filling in the holes from there. Detaching myself from the 40 hour a week job (especially one where you’re working for someone else), the big empty house, the cars and other toys, have all opened up room to do more and own more of the things that truly matter to me. Each day we only have a certain number of decisions we can make, emotions we can process, and things we can do, make sure you’re focusing your attention on the ones that really matter to you!
"Wearing the Badge" Ebook
Read Jonathan's story about why he left policing, the realities of the job not often talked about, and where he is now today.