Not much has been written about America’s first responders retiring in unprecedented numbers all across America. The Chicago Police Department for example has endured over 2,000 retirements alone in the last few years. Most of the interest has been in the Defund the Police movements and of course, the sensationalized stories of police-involved controversies. Mistakes, corruption, and the great art of second-guessing which has become a cottage industry while enjoying a bowl of Wheaties or looking at a video in slow motion while perusing the internet or reading, and watching the news. Most of the time in a nice quiet environment with no distractions where, woulda, shoulda, coulda, ARE REFINED COURSES AND solve all problems.
With very few exceptions if one really delved into the reasons why cops and first responders decide to step away I can say this with a very minimum of guesswork, 33 years of personal experience is a front-row seat. There are of course many reasons why that last straw finally broke the camel’s back but for cops and first responders, it’s kind of a take your pick scenario.
They just don’t want to see any more suffering, injustice, or cruelty.
They don’t want to hear any more victims — the sobbing and the shrieks of grieving loved ones.
They don’t want to be around any more thugs, gangsters, killers, sociopaths, lunatics, and most of all critics and second guessers.
They no longer want to be someone in a cesspool, working in it, day after day, year after year, ten to twelve hours a day. Working desperately to try and make sense of dealing with past political and social failures that have doomed so many of Chicago’s neighborhoods.
They no longer want to drown in the crap and stink and filth of it all.
They no longer want to work holidays and off-hours, the missing hundreds of family moments and events and precious family time that can never be made up.
They are exhausted from extending a helping hand to politicians, police brass, and city leaders and being lucky to just get their hands back from the gutless and timid leadership.
It’s not just one thing that suddenly makes that push to get out, it’s kinda like that old Chinese torture “DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS.” What cops and first responders see in those neighborhoods is completely out of the realm of most people’s minds and imaginations.
Working in law enforcement in Chicago and being a first responder is akin to being in a war zone. Being on patrol and responding to violence can and does change the way a human being thinks and acts. Anybody who thinks differently is not really thinking or is completely in denial. The city gangs are front and center, no area of the city is safe. Since 2016 there have been 23,381 people shot and 4,480 souls murdered. Carjacking has become an epidemic with more than 4,000 in the last 2 years alone.
Responding to traumatic events over and over again is known as Critical Incident Exposure.” The mind becomes fixated to be always on the lookout for threats and constantly guarded. Anyone who is interested in being a first responder or do you know anyone who is? Talk to those who rode the beats. Those 2-hour movies and television shows are fantasies. Serving and protecting have a price to pay.
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