Why I Quit Being a Police Officer

Since leaving my job with the Edmonton Police last year for a major life shift, countless people have asked me; Why did you leave? Did you like being a cop? Would you do it again?

After answering this question to disapproving people, supportive people, friends, family, strangers, and most importantly myself, here is just a raw compilation of thoughts, emotions and plans for my future out of the uniform.

Graduation day - EPS

Graduation Day

During my 5 years working in the police force (I’m allowed to use that word now, I don’t care if it seems “too intimidating to the public” haha) I found my own way to do things.  A way that stayed within the boundaries set out by the job (for the most part) and stayed authentic to who I was.  Some of the biggest lessons I learned in my time in uniform?

  1. Just be yourself, people will respect you for it – If someone thinks the justice system is messed up, and you agree, tell them you agree.  If someone is yelling at you, ask them “why are you yelling?”, try it, most people calm down.  Point being, when people sense you’re putting on an act (we’ve all seen the macho cop trying to be tougher than he is) they’ll lie to you, they might try to fight you, and it all usually ends up on the news and you know the news is never good.  So be yourself:)
  2. Work hard – Not because its going to get you anywhere, (I’ll touch on that later) but because of the reputation you will build.  Even after leaving the police force, one of my old sergeants, who is a huge role model of mine to this day, wrote me a bulletproof letter of recommendation to use in my future endeavours.  Now I’m not sure I could live up to all they made me out to be, but I am forever grateful for the kind words, and I truly believe it was genuine hard work that earned this letter.
  3. Lessons are everywhere – I love education, training and finding ways to better yourself, mentally and physically.  What I learned from my time working in a few different roles as a police officer was that skills and lessons could be found in anything you do.  For example, my time working as a dispatcher, using 5 computer screens and multiple computer programs, all while managing our athlete social media, writing on this blog, pitching freelancing articles all on the side…… well that made me quite a computer multi-tasker.  How useful for landing me an SEO job shortly after moving abroad:)  So while it might not always be clear, you can find a lesson or benefit in anything you do.

Now fast forward a bit, to when my sights shifted from advancing my career, to planning my exit from the police force.  With no family in Edmonton, and a new found passion for the outdoors (something that city just does NOT satisfy) I knew it was time for a change.  After a little bit planning, lots of dreaming, and some research into where we could pivot our lives, I was ready to leave.  This was not a lightbulb moment, or a knee jerk reaction, it was a slow development that brought me to the decision that a career spent as a police officer was not what I wanted.

So why did I leave?

Policing a conveyer belt profession

That badge number you get the day you sign up, is your number in line.  You can answer your phone on days off, come in to work overtime, be proactive and take on things far beyond your seniority, all in all work your ass off, but when it comes down to it, in the policing world, seniority trumps all.  On multiple occasions after submitting an application to go on a training course or be transfered to a new position, I received the email saying “we went with the two most senior people, better luck next time.”  The internal politics in a government environment (especially one filled with a bunch of alpha dogs) is brutal.  And instead of examining people for who they are, what potential they show, or what work they’ve achieved to date, why not just pick the next number in line and not have to look like the bad guy.  This structure simply didn’t jive with me.  If someone is a hard worker, that hard work must be rewarded, not taken advantage of.

Health and fitness in Policing falls way down the list of priorities  

world police fire games jon

Representing Edmonton Police at the World Police and Fire Games

I know what you’re probably thinking… what??? But to be honest, aside from a few short lectures once or twice a year about how to take care of your health and stay in shape while working night shift, many people let themselves slide once they’ve graduated from recruit class.  And this lack of self care comes on many levels.  The individual, I mean some people simply stopped working out at all after they finished being told to work out in class.  An organizational level, when requests for improved equipment or changes to schedules to accommodate healthy levels of sleep, they we’re placed about as high on the list as renovating that 3rd floor washroom.  Lastly, I cannot leave out the overall shift in society to a level of health dependent on our “free” healthcare.  Yes this “I’m going to eat what I like while I’m alive” mentality works its way into policing, and though I desperately wanted the will power of the police service to rise above this mentality and stand tall saying “we will be better,” people give in and McFlurries and Baconators become all too common.  Want to know the truth, there is absolutely no mandate for police officers in Edmonton to maintain a level of fitness.  If you fail your fitness test, if you physically can’t do a pushup or run across the gym….. well it doesn’t really matter, no one really cares.  So when it comes to a citizen relying on us to chase a guy down for them, well, there’s a good chance the cop will run out of breath before the bad guy.

Long term detriments of being a Cop

This one might seem similar to the last point, but I’m talking more about the long term aspects of it.  Everyone knows smoking is bad for you right, so what do we do? We quit.  Everyone knows working shift work is bad for you right, so what do we do? … Keep doing it:S?:S? Personally I didn’t want to see how much I could age myself working nightshifts for the next 20 years.  And has anyone ever put on a police officers duty belt before?  They are quite possibly the LEAST ergonomic accessory to wear, and that’s before we add 5-10lbs of gear to it.  I mean my hips are already tight from running so much, but you wear that back breaker for 11 hours and we’re just adding to the aging and crippling effects.  Lets step back and look at this, we are in an era where we carry a smartphone on our wrist, no one can think of a better way to carry this stuff?  Anyways, I came to the realization that I put too much effort into my fitness, that to let it all wilt away because of logistics such as these was just not a game I wanted to play.

Ineffective Justice System

When I joined, I wanted a job where no day was the same, and I went home knowing I made a difference.  After a few years getting to know the game, it started to all blend together.  Maybe different names and different addresses, but the calls were all the same.  The people you arrested yesterday, got out because Canadian judges are too scared to lock anyone up, and you’re chasing them again today.  You realize the work you do today rarely changes the shape of tomorrow, and all in the effort, people record you on their phones to try and sewer you when they have the chance.  Maybe I’m weak-minded or impatient but I thought it was a waste of my time and a bit of an uphill battle that’s not even worth fighting.

This post ended up being longer than I planned so let me finish things up with one final thought.  Policing is unfortunately necessary in today’s society, and to those who see the bigger picture and where they fit into the net, I tip my hat to you.  I however have chosen to go in search of work more suited to my beliefs and values, those which value the person doing the work, their well being, their growth and success, and most importantly the role they play in the universe.  To the police officers working across the globe, god speed and if I can ever be of assistance I will do my best.

Honestly and respectfully written,

Jonathan

I also wrote a reflection 1 year later, if you’re curious about what life is like after quitting policing

Sandal, madagascar, racing the planet

Decluttering your Home from “Stuff”

We have spent countless hours over the past year reading blogs, websites and articles about selling all your belongings, whether its simply decluttering your home or preparing for a move abroad.  Having left our lives in Canada just last weekend, we figure now is a great time to share our experiences.  We’ve left jobs, sold houses and cars, and most importantly reduced the amount of STUFF that we have by either selling or donating.

‘LIFE IS EITHER A GREAT ADVENTURE OR NOTHING” – Helen Keller

Jonathan quit edmonton police

Melissa meditation yoga omLeaving jobs was a relatively simple part of our move, Melissa leaving part time jobs at both Prana Yoga Studio and Optimum Health and myself leaving the Edmonton Police.  While it was difficult to “pull the pin” and hand in our letters of resignation letters, we found co-workers, supervisors and family overwhelmingly supportive of our decision.  It even sparked up some fascinating conversations with these people you thought you knew, until they open up and share their stories of travel, back packing, moving abroad, or other types of adventures.

 

 

Mel and Jon sell houseThe biggest reality checks for us was selling off our house and cars.  Your tomorrow doesn’t change much after selling a circular saw. But, to no longer have a set of wheels to get around town, or to suddenly no longer have an address that is yours to put on forms…it can all feel a little odd.  On the flip side however, the feeling that you are cutting loose from these anchors to set sail on a new adventure are equally stimulating and will fire the feeling of excitement within!

 

Now, when it comes to the stuff… where to begin.  There are so many reasons people will take cleanse like this, whether to move internationally, downsizing, just wanting some new things, or shifting to a minimalist lifestyle overall.  First step we feel that is helpful is coming up with a plan either on your own, or with your spouse and/or family that will be coming along for the ride.  Its best to have everyone on the same page and a direction for the kinds of things you want to keep, and the amount of stuff that is “worth” hanging onto.

packing for adventure travel abroad

Gotta love vacuum packing bags!

Once you have a game plan, find a portal that you can use to show off your inventory.  For us, we posted most of our things on kijiji and also had quite a bit of luck posting things on our Facebook pages.  And the best bang for your buck is going to be returning things that qualify, we have learned a ton about different companies return policies and will share some interesting stories with you!

The benefits of Kijiji:

Free to post, decent exposure within your local area, and you never have to pay any commission for items that sell.

The downside of Kijiji:

People are unreliable to appointments, you will receive some ridiculously low offers for items (and I seriously mean ridiculous!!), and you will have strangers coming to your house to check things out/pick them up.

The benefits of Facebook:

You know the people you’re dealing with, so you won’t get low balled nearly as bad, and you feel safer having people come to pick things up. (You might even have a chance to reconnect with some old friends!)

The downside of Facebook:

Just because they are your friends doesn’t mean they won’t flake out on you, haha, and with this you’re reach is limited to your Facebook friends which for most of us won’t be nearly the size of a kijiji audience.

If you are skimming over this article…..read THIS paragraph!!!

So return policies vary from company to company, and I can almost guarantee that we’ve all thrown stuff out or donated items that literally could have been taken back for a full refund.  We will share with you three scenarios that could save you a ton of money.

  1. Costo

    • –> They have an amazing return policy on almost everything in their store, even their food.  Their one restriction is electronics which limits the in store returns to 60 or 90 days.  For everything else if you are not satisfied with how long it lasted, how the clothes are fitting, or just simply bought something on a whim and have never used it, take it back and talk with them, more likely than not they’ll take it back!  If you want to hear one of the best stories of a return, send us an email, its priceless but not something we want to post publicly 😛
  2. MEC outdoor gear

    Mountain Equipment Co-op

    • –>  Being a co-op they offer some quality products a very reasonable prices so for the items we returned here, we were very careful not to return stuff to waste their money and time, as that would in turn drive up prices in the future.  But on items that you buy and never get around to using (for us we bought a bunch of bike accessories a month before selling our bikes, so all of them were still in a condition to go back on the shelves), take it in and explain the situation, they are more than reasonable!
  3. Clothing stores

    • –> There are a number of clothing stores which offer customer satisfaction guarantees on their product, so if you are sitting at home going through you’re closet and you have something you have almost never worn because it just doesn’t feel right, then take it in and explain, many will let you pick something new, and some might just refund it.

So you’ve tried selling it, thought about returning it…BUT, now before you burn it….consider whether someone less fortunate could use such an item.  There are dozens of places to take gently used clothing and other items that can be given to those in need.  Shelters are often willing to take your donations, as well as places like Goodwill or Value Village, all of which operate on your generous donations.

Now the load is getting lighter and your house is becoming less cluttered!  You might even be shocked how much space you really have now that its not full of STUFF.  We just want to finish with a couple key questions we asked each other almost on a daily basis while sorting through our belongings:

  • How many times have you worn it in the past year?
  • Is there an item on the market that can do the job of both of those? Is it worth investing in that?
  • Sporting goods –> How many times a year do you ski, golf, or whatever else?  Would the cost of renting be cheaper than the depreciation on your clubs, skis, or whatever other toy you have stores in the garage????
  • Is it cheaper to ship it or buy a new one once you land?? (For long distance moves)

moving abroad packing adventure

Landing in Chile, we carried with us two checked bags and one carry on, containing everything we felt that we needed.  Sure there are a half dozen boxes stored back home with some less useful items that carry more of a sentimental value.  However, over the past 12 months we have learned that the basic necessities of life are quite simple.  We have learned that buying something because it is on sale is not saving you money when you don’t need it in the first place.  And together have started focusing our money and attention into things that will open up our minds, and maintain our health.

The world is our playground don’t hunker down in one place and miss your chance to explore!

Chao from Chile!

Mel and Jon

…Here’s a great video if you’re thinking of de-cluttering your stuff! –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgBpyNsS-jU

100 Days of Happiness :)

For those of you who follow the Ultra Mel and Jon Facebook page, I’m sure you’ve been seeing our day by day pictures tagged with #100happydays.  100 Happy days was a foundation created to bring small bits of happiness back into peoples everyday lives.  Or more importantly, its focus is to bring attention to these moments of pure happiness and help us appreciate them.happy inspirational quote

#100happydays is free to do and you can use twitter, Facebook or instagram as your platform for posting your moments of happy!  If you can maintain this pattern of happiness by posting 100 days in a row, then you can “back” their foundation (on multiple different levels) and have a photo album created with all 100 of your happy photo’s!!

Visit their website for all the information as well as more details on their foundation and what they do to share happiness all over the world.  http://100happydays.com/

Why we chose to participate???  Sometimes the best parts in life are so very simple.  Remembering to capture and share a moment in your day that brought you happiness takes almost no effort at all, yet bring us great appreciation for the blissful moments.  In the long run, doing something continuous for 100 days straight can easily lay a foundation for a continious habit in your life.  So take part, sign up and share your happiness with those around you! :)

 

We hope to see many of those who comment, like, retweet or whatever this topic, sign up and find their own 100 Days of Happiness!!!

Ultra Mel & Jon share happiness– Mel and Jon

Running on Empty – Marshall Ulrich

Running on empty cover RUNNING ON EMPTY

– Ultra-marathoners Story of Love, Loss and Record Setting

By: Marshall Ulrich

 

This book has a multitude of different aspects and emotions woven through it.  The most obvious is the author’s introduction and induction into the world of ultramarathon running.  Having taken up running as more of a safe haven from his struggles at home, Ulrich talks about the effects that it had on his wife and children.  For me it was a great reminder that taking on anything as demanding as ultra running requires a lot of support from your family and can quickly take over your life if you let it.  Ulrich creates quite a bit of vulnerability within himself as he reflects on his mediocre job as a father as well as his three (completely different in dynamic) marriages.  It becomes quite easy to relate the story to your own life and stuggles that you may have gone through, family members which you might have tension with, or dreams that rattle around in your head waiting to be chased.

The more inspiring side of the book was what really had me glued to it more than anything else.  Ulrich didn’t simply stay around his home town to run the same races each year.  He quickly searched far and wide for races which could both challenge him and bring him to places all over the US.  Not even staying within the realm of one particular style of racing, Ulrich bounced between road marathons, trail races, 5k’s to 100 milers, and even into multi-day adventure races.  With each race fertilizing that little seed in his mind telling him that anything is possible, Ulrich started to up the anti.  Creating goals which to some would seem suicidal, like climbing Mount Everest (Summit photo below), and others which people simply haven’t thought to try yet, say Leadville Trail 100 and Pikes Peak Marathon on the same weekend.

uLRICH EVEREST

Getting to the chunk of the book that truly matters, at least in the eyes of Guinness!  Ulrich talk extensively about his record setting run from coast to coast across the United States.  Without taking anything away from this great novel, this epic story has a little bit of everything.  It’ll show you that weather won’t always cooperate with plans, sponsors can turn “corporate” at the snap of a finger, it’s never too late for family, distance running can ramp up your sex drive :S, farmers shoot first and ask questions later, friends can turn on you, friends can save you, and most important of all the human spirit has no boundaries!

A great book that I would recommend to just about anyone and highly recommend any ultra runner to pick up.  Ulrich was generous enough to include a vast amount of information about his trans-continental run, including training programs, nutritional info, injuries and prevention/treatments, and all of the equipment and clothing that was used.

Run free and read lots!!

– Jon –

How to Tie Huarache Sandals like a Tarahumara!!

How To Tie Huaraches

When we travelled to Costa Rica to run the La Ruta ultra marathon, we were fortunate enough to spend the week before the race with about 15 Tarahumara runners who had travelled from Mexico to compete in the race.  In this time we shared our modern day style huarache sandals from Xero Shoes, and they shared their handmade traditional huarache sandals with us.  At first we were skeptical about their tying method, as it looked quite insecure, we were convinced after the Tarahumara racers swept the podium, wearing their simple huaraches for the entire 100km ultra marathon.  This is how the Tarahumara showed us how to tie huarache sandals, and we hope you give it a try and send us a pic!!!

How to Tie Huarache Sandals like the Tarahumara

tying huarache sandals mel and tarahumara runner

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