This news got me thinking. Does it really matter if the average ages of officers goes up? What do younger cops bring to the job that more mature ones don’t and vice versa? So entry starting salary for a new PC is 19k. I came to the job in my early 30’s from continuous private sector employment. I was the breadwinner, and the only pension we could afford was mine. My previous pay had been fairly rubbish but I’d kept off the dole – you might call me a ‘striver’ these days.
When I joined the job the pay was about …19k !!!! Factor in a decade of inflation, taxes and cost of living, what chance does a young cop stand on 19k today- indeed what chance does a mature cop like me have? I simply couldn’t do it again now. I would be committing family suicide.
But what practical differences are there – job wise- between young cops and mature ones?
The answer lies in your team mix.
I had a shift of almost exclusively young cops – they love to blue light and lock up the bad guys- great. But I found a serious lack of self discipline as well- things like getting to work on time, a reluctance to take more than a simple statement when required (rule one-secure your witnesses ) and many other things I could moan about another time such as hair colour and nails! What these people have in common is that the guilty ones were all single, and all are in their first real job.
I behaved like this as a teenage apprentice – my peers inflicted real discipline back then – so much so that you either took it or left. None of the protective bubble of rights that exist today, and that are even stronger in the police. You just can’t give them a good bollocking anymore.
I have run other shifts- my current one are all mature bar one 23yr old- and I find that when they go to jobs they will take all those statements, do the dirty work at the scene, without complaint- they will often contact me and say how disgusted they are with how the victim has been treated by the offender and they are determined to see it through. I believe this is an instinctive mature response to tragedy – in other words ‘that could be me or my family this happened to’ – and is a reaction found in the mature, developed mind of someone with some life experience.
When I lived at home, all I cared about was getting paid and going out on my night off. I’ve seen this countless times with young cops, their entire conversation revolves round the X factor.
It’s about priorities. The more mature will have much more empathy with others – even offenders- as they have something to lose .
So why does the team mix matter?
Take the single 23yr old on my team – he has his immature moments, but he has colleagues to lead by example- he sees them being thorough, they won’t put up with being left to clear up the mess alone, and can’t be bothered with the X factor social scene. This is what happened to me as an apprentice – the majority control the minority !
If that doesn’t reflect a democratic society I don’t know what does.