Roman: Welcome to the greatest show on Earth


I saw a Tweet today that I wanted to share. It was from an officer with less than a year on the job:

In terms of how addicting it is, no drug has anything on police work. Once you get in it, you’re hooked.

Those two sentences said a lot about what it’s like to be young and new on the job. A lot of us can remember saying something similar to that when we started this roller-coaster career called police work.

When I first started back in the mid-1990s, I would’ve done this job for free. I couldn’t wait to get back to work from my days off. It might sound funny to some, but unless you’ve done the job in the city I work at, it’s hard to describe to a non-officer.

Back then each new shift was an adventure. Going to work was like stepping through a magic door into a distant world that was like a crazy circus with a cast of characters that was equal to none. Simply put, it was the greatest show on earth.

Every day was different and brought a new thrill. Each new day was a learning experience as I tried to figure out how to be a cop.

Early on I knew there was no way I could ever work in an office and sit behind a computer. Driving around in a black and white was where it was at for me.

As an older officer with time on, I like seeing new cops who want to save the world and arrest bad guys. They want to do well and make a difference. I can fondly look back at those days and chuckle at myself because I see a little of myself in some of them.

Despite all the problems in police work, this still is the best job in the world. I’m still amazed they pay me to do this. Each day is still an adventure with crazy things happening to keep it interesting. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, something else happens to prove me wrong.

Twenty years later, I’m happy to say the enthusiasm and passion is still there. I love my job, but I wouldn’t do it for free, though. I’m older and wiser now. Let’s not get crazy.

To all the new cops out there, have fun. The job is what you make of it.

Be safe.

Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415 ( His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. shares some of his columns.