The Elusive Perspective of Police
One of my favorite things to do in life is to explore and expose new perspectives about our country, our issues, and our relationships. When it comes to vocation, I discovered one of these new perspectives after getting my real estate license and attempting to be a full-time Realtor. Before I had taken the plunge I thought the life of a Realtor would be awesome— Just take people around to look at properties for sale, negotiate, and then when the house closes, collect a gigantic check. Voilà! I’m rich!
I quickly found out some truths about working in that industry. The job of being a real estate agent is not so easy. There’s a ton of work that an agent doesn’t get paid directly for doing. There’s hours and hours of cold-calls, thousands of dollars on mailers and advertising, events, floor time, coaching, and on and on go the expenses and tasks in order to try to drum up business. I had several times where I took people around for days and weeks trying to find them a property, only to have them call me one day telling me they decided to rent something. I never saw a dime from any of the time I spent with them.
Late night phone calls and last minute weekend showings were a regular occurrence. It was like I was on-call 24/7, 365 days a year. And if I did manage to close a deal and get that large commission check, there would be a split with all kinds of people, teams, and bosses depending on where the sale had originated.
My point here is that after having done it, I had a TOTALLY different perspective about the job of a Realtor. And unless you know a real estate agent or have done it, my bet is that you think like I first did.
Yet not understanding the job of a real estate agent has a minimal effect on us as a society. Realtors aren’t on the news nearly every day being reported on negatively. We aren’t less safe as a country, we aren’t bickering over rules and regulations for agents, nor are NFL players kneeling to protest anything real estate related.
Now, if you were passionate enough to want to know what it’s like, obtaining your real estate license is not that difficult. In the list of my lifetime achievements, I would rank it: Easy / Mild Nuisance.
Due to the complexity of the job, understanding the perspective of a police officer is infinitely more difficult than that of a real estate agent. You can’t go out, take a weeklong class, pass a test and be a licensed police officer. Just making it through a police department’s selection, hiring, and training process is exponentially more difficult and complex. Secondly there are far less police officers in America than there are real estate agents. Therefore it’s more difficult to even find someone who has the police perspective to share. The police officers that ARE in place, don’t typically talk. Fear of retribution from executives, fear of the media not reporting fairly, and fear of public backlash are all other reasons police don’t often address the public. Add to that the many different layers of oversight an officer has to answer to, and you will see officers are already scrutinized plenty.
The difference is that not understanding the perspective of a police officer IS detrimental to us as a society. We are less safe when we are scared of the police or don’t trust them. We don’t listen to what they tell us to do in an emergency. We may not even have the faith to call them. Officers are now being killed because people don’t understand the job, the circumstances of each case, and the applicable laws. People are out making summary judgments about every single case they hear about, after only hearing one side of the argument.
On top of one-sided media stories, it’s no secret people are intrigued by the job of a police officer. As evidence, I point to the many television and movie portrayals of cops. Some of the biggest movies and shows every year involve cops. This adds to the problem as Hollywood creates distorted views about the police and the job they do. The inundation of destructive Hollywood portrayals also leads people to make incorrect assessments about real-life police issues.
And while all this occurs, real officers are doing less police work so they reduce the risk of being involved in confrontation and controversy. Also, many police departments are changing their selection and hiring process to identify and promote passive personalities. At some point, this will cause people to be hurt when an officer fails to act.
Now if you are passionate about wanting to know what it really is like for cops, becoming a police officer just to see for yourself is probably not an option. IF you manage to make it though the rigorous selections process and IF you pass the academy and field training, it will be close to a year before you are out on your own. Then, you’ll need at least a couple years to be able to understand the job as a whole. I would rank the achievement of making it to my first day (by myself) on the street as an officer as: Extremely difficult – The hardest, most challenging accomplishment of my life – I’m forever more confident because I did it.
I’m willing to bet, like most Americans, you ARE intrigued and interested in the job of a police officer. Furthermore, I believe you care about increasing your safety and the overall safety of the community. And since you can’t run out and become an officer in a week or two, all you need now is an officer who is willing to speak up. Now that I have honorably retired after 15 years, I’m stepping forward to share with you. The last piece that’s missing, and all I need to help get my messages heard, is your attention.
As we move forward, I want you to know what I have to say is not political. I don’t care if you’re pro-life or pro-choice. I don’t care if you own guns or don’t. I don’t care what kind of social programs you are interested in or what tax rate you would like to see implemented. I don’t care what color you are, where you are from, what you do for a living, what religion you are. I don’t care if you’re gay or straight. All I care is that you are open and willing to listen to what I have to say.
I offer you something new, something that hasn’t ever been offered before- my perspective.
I have over 15 years of law enforcement experience. I worked in Districts 1,3,4,5, and 6 of the Denver Police Department. I was a financial crimes detective, an internal affairs investigator, certified hostage negotiator, field training officer, neighborhood police officer, sergeant, public relations supervisor and PIO.
During much of my time at the department, I was also a radio talk show host on 850KOA in Denver. Prior to that and also while I was an officer, I did hourly news updates, along with writing and producing news stories for Clear Channel.
I produced video content, podcasts and other material during my time as a public relations supervisor to try to show the good work officers do every day, in order to humanize the police to the public. I won four Edward R. Murrow Awards and two Emmy awards for this content.
I was one of a very few openly gay officers. I made it through a successful career in a hyper-masculine industry and while still managing to be well regarded and respected. The other cops often invited my significant other to be part of the outside work social group.
I tell you all this so you can learn about who I am, where I came from, what I’ve done, and why I’m doing what I’m doing.
After discovering I could never be a full-time Realtor, I’ve found myself full circle, coming back to police work and sharing the police perspective. I’ve just released my first tell-all memoir; I post articles and podcast every week on all my social media sites, sharing the truth from behind the line.
So just why am I doing this?
I’m doing this because I know one of the purposes of my life was to heal this important and critical divide between officers and citizens. I’m doing this because I care about you, this country, and our quality of life. I’m doing this because I love police officers and respect the REAL job they do every single day.
One of my most significant skills is strong communication. I’m going to use that to help Americans gain a new perspective, a more accurate one, about the most important job in the country. Imagine if all the police in America simultaneously walked off the job right now— just think about how quickly we would all be in danger even within the confines of our own homes.
**Steve Warneke is a retired Denver Police sergeant, police expert, consultant, speaker and author of From Boy To Blue. Find more from Steve at www.SteveWarneke.com.