In all my years in policing whether on the front lines or running the Toronto Police Association I have only seen and heard ‘bad’ police morale. I can honestly say I have never witnessed or heard of ‘good’ police morale. It seems it has always been the right of every police officer to complain about the job, never being satisfied, always wanting more and an attitude of ‘what have you done for me lately’. This attitude comes from society always treating any bad news story about the police as the priority over any good news.
If there is a negative story about a police officer or police organization it will appear within the first couple pages of a newspaper or within the first couple minutes of a news cast on TV. The hero stories involving police will be buried in a newspaper and not even air on TV. Negative stories in general sell better in the media, negative stories involving the police are gold.
You hear today ‘police morale is bad, it has never been worse’, the reality is it has not changed over the past 30 years. It has always been bad, coppers truly feel it is ‘us against the world’ and for good reason. Policing is a profession that just deals with the bad parts of society, a police officer in his/her career will see things the average citizen could not imagine. Police officers will deal with criminals who do not go by the book, will break every rule to succeed as a bad guy, a cop has to be perfect in a very imperfect world. A copper can go years being a great cop, but the first time they screw up, no matter how minor, they will be known for their screw up, not the great years of work. Nothing prepares a cop for being front-page news for something they are accused of. There is no course in police college saying you may one day be on the front page of the local news paper for doing your job, then have to explain the situation to your family, friends and neighbours.
Most police officers that get in ‘trouble’ get cleared and end up back at work, but the damage is done, most will not recover from any negativity about their career whether within the walls of their police station or on the streets. The morale is bad because police officers see how their own are treated everyday, and most of the time they are treated like shit.