"To serve and protect": These words capture what a law enforcement officer does every day. Unfortunately, the duties of protecting and serving others can be hazardous to your health. Television police dramas often portray a sensationalized version of what it means to be a cop. In real life, cops face dangers and stressors that can’t be resolved in an hour. Although the risk level increases for those working in larger cities, all cops face risks every time they go to work.
The Risk of Injury or Worse
On television, the biggest risk for cops seems to be taking down the criminals without messing up their lip gloss. In real life, the risks escalate to being injured or even killed on the job. Being a cop places you in situations that other jobs never do, such as going after drug dealers and stepping into the middle of volatile domestic violence calls. On a daily basis, officers go into circumstances that could get them shot, stabbed or maimed.
Police offers are often the first on the scene of accidents, which brings them in direct contact with blood and air borne pathogens. Pathogens cause diseases such as hepatitis or AIDS. Offices undergo rigorous training about the threat of these pathogens and learn how to protect themselves, but they may not always have time to put on protective gear. Officers never know if the person they are dealing with has a contagious disease like tuberculosis, so they face this risk every day.
Being a cop pushes the stress level into the stratosphere. Cops work long, erratic hours, which wreaks havoc on the body and relationships. Police officers are not the most highly paid individuals, so the stress of making a living on a cop's salary is another addition to the stress meter. Extended levels of stress can cause fatigue, depression or suicidal thoughts. Another outcome of high stress conditions is poor sleep. Not getting enough sleep has been known to cause obesity, which is not desirable for a police officer.
Remember all those times that you said you were not going to drive on a Saturday night because of too many idiots on the road? Well if you become a police officer, you will be out there with the idiots on a regular basis. Cops face many dangers on the road, not just from drunk drivers, but also from fleeing criminals and plain old careless drivers. A routine traffic stop can become a road hazard for a cop if a driver does not see her walking at the edge of the road. High speed pursuits pose especially high danger. In some cases, criminals may have weapons in their vehicles, which increases the danger even further.
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