Law Officer

A Cop’s New Year’s Resolution: A Balanced Life

With the business of trying to balance (hang on to this word) police work, home life and ministry, finding the time to write for Law Officer has been challenging. That said, and with the New Year upon us, now seems like a great time to talk about the concept of balance.

To be frank, serving in law enforcement and living a balanced life are two things most think can’t go together.  Young officers in particular can’t get enough of “the job” – including getting in as much overtime as possible (the latter being a recipe for disaster).  The result?  Burn out, negative impacts on our marriages and families (we continue to have one the highest rates of divorce in the nation), self-medicating (particularly with alcohol), a veritable cornucopia health issues and more.

Having been a law officer for thirty years now (and counting), not to mention my dual role as a police chaplain and minister with a focus on our own, it is safe to say that – like the insurance commercial – I “know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two” (including a plethora of mistakes I’ve made along the way).  Accordingly, I hope you’ll bear with me for a few minutes while I try to give you some meaningful direction here.

The title of this article begins with a word that is a mantra at the beginning of each new year and then fades away by February or March: “resolution.” Unfortunately, the word often goes hand-in-hand with failure, yet it is plays a big role in living a balanced life.  If you want to last or otherwise be successful in this profession, you had better RESOLVE (be intentional) to live a balanced life and then stick with. So what does that look like in a practical sense?  As I shared in previous article, we have three main dynamics that we should be focusing on: the mental, the physical and yes, the spiritual. Let’s break that down:

I mentioned overtime here. Yes, I realize that poor pay is still a huge issue for many of us (especially in the south and rural agencies). But making OT part of you budget is sure recipe for disaster should you get hurt or in trouble.  Again, being intentionally balanced is an essential.  Yes, mandatory call out and extra shifts may be the norm, especially in these times of being chronically short-staffed.  But don’t make seeking extra duty so much a part of your life that it becomes destructive.

Now is focusing on our law enforcement side (case law updates, officer safety/survival training such as “The First Three Seconds,” etc.) still important? Of course – and the fact that you’re reading Law Officer is a healthy part of that.  Again, the key word is balance, and that involves being intentional.

Need more help on this?  Law Officer provides us with a plethora (there’s that word again — seek to use this word in a police report – your supervisor will “love” it) of free resources in their Fitness section (including this excellent article on supplementation – Supplements 101 for Law Enforcement).  Again, balance!

More? Check out the many FREE resources we’ve made available for you through The Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry and the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers – USA.

Having a healthy, successful and hopefully long career in our special profession requires each of us to be intentionally balanced in every area of our lives. Accordingly, I join you in making a lasting resolution this year to do just that (like the meme, “your New Year’s resolution is my everyday”).  Moreover, let’s all resolve to do whatever is necessary to get home safe after our shifts.  Have a safe and balanced New Year.