Police work is a job that produces constant tension and inner conflict. A police officer is trained to approach all interactions with the public with extreme caution. On duty, every interaction must be handled according to defined procedures and with the commanding demeanor and presence of authority. But the public expects a certain level of respect, personability, and even sensitivity from its so-called civil servants. For the officer, maintaining a proper balance of comportment between affable personability and the required demeanor of authority can create a number of complicated problems with potential negative consequences. To the hardened criminal, kindness can be interpreted as a weakness to be exploited. But for innocent citizens inexperienced with the police, being treated too authoritatively can be offensive, frustrating, and even a source of real stress and anxiety. Knowing how to navigate this nearly unwinnable interaction puzzle can become a constant source of stress for the officer. One of the ways officers frequently cope with this type of stress is by inevitably leaning more on detachment and strict procedure following. While detachment and following procedure may be the easiest way possible for the officer to walk the line of personal safety, it can nonetheless be extremely alienating for the public. Even worse is that procedure following cannot solve many of the real world problems with which police are confronted. In these cases, the officer must use personal judgment. But deviating from standard policy and procedure can create real liabilities for the city, the police department, and the officers themselves. This never-ending circle of social dilemmas keeps many police officers in a constant state of discomfort and stress. It is tragic, but many police officers have been greatly desensitized to the suffering of others by their job, and of course through their own choices and priorities. Many police officers struggle with depression and feel their job is creating a literal battle within; that is, a battle for their soul and their own humanity.
— Bryant McGill
post "The Police: Crucibles of Society and Enforcement"
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