Throughout my policing career I occasionally found myself wondering why I wasn’t quite enjoying work as much as I’d hoped. You may feel the same way, now and then. Here was my response to that debilitating feeling.
During the mid-1990s I had a bit of a wobble. The stresses I suffered resulted, in part I believe, from being transferred to a small out-station – I hadn’t asked for it, I didn’t want it, I certainly didn’t enjoy it (even though the people I worked with were great). Confession – community-based PR-type work wasn’t for me. I liked action. I liked being at the centre of ‘fun’ and wandering around chatting to people – not my bag. Yes, I know it is important but so is exercise – I do it, and I do it as well as I can – but I don’t necessarily enjoy it!
At around the same time I attended a lecture on Tracing Debtors. It intrigued me – I could find a new interest in work by focusing my efforts on finding those miscreants who were trying to avoid arrest for crimes under investigation – the wanted – or those who were avoiding the consequences of their actions – the bail-jumpers. I decided to become Boba Fett.
The beauty of this new focus was that it served, was aligned with and could be undertaken in parallel with my ‘normal’ policing responsibilities. I did my research on the various powers – powers of entry in pursuit of the wanted being a particular favourite – one that often resulted in the destruction of doors. I set goals – 100 warrant arrests one year, 150 the next – both hit, just. (Fines didn’t count unless they paralleled a bail-skip). And those numbers excluded ‘normal’ arrests for crimes, and the detections caused by finding and dealing with the Wanted Persons list for my section (and indeed any section in the force if I could find them). I was also an avid user and provider of intelligence on the subjects of my pursuits. I had so much fun and gained a positive reputation.
My stress levels plummeted. The detection rate soared. And the best feeling? I had a few regulars, those who would offend, get bail, and fail to appear while committing further crime. I’d arrest them time and time again and the custody unit would bail them, again.
But one day I walked past the Magistrates Court – and there were several of my regulars, all dutifully presenting themselves. I’d won, they’d given up.
I’d encourage you to do the same – not necessarily tracing wanted people, but something that you absolutely love doing within the context of your particular role, which also involves researching and ‘sub-specialising’ in that area. Make sure it enhances rather than interferes with your responsibilities. Involve and teach others – I had so much support from my relief because of the fun we had. I also now dislike Hawaii 5-0 because they never cover the back – soooo unprofessional!
Find a niche – no, not that one – and get bloody good at it. You’ll find a new love for your work and your stress levels will be greatly lowered. And then perhaps, like me – you can also write a book on the subject and earn mo’ money. Which also reduces stress…….