How to Move on When Your Career in Law Enforcement or Firefighting Comes to an End
The attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. have represented hundreds of police officers and firefighters in Minnesota workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims over the years. Unfortunately, there are times when the injury is career-ending and the individual is left wondering what to do next. Oftentimes the police officer or firefighter is too young to retire or do not know what to do once their career in law enforcement and/or firefighting is over. Most have no other experience and the only career path they wanted was to be a cop or firefighter. Our good friend and former client, Chuck Gollop, found himself in that very situation. We recently reached out to Chuck and asked him to share his story with us and how he turned his career-ending injury into the next phase of his life. Here is Chuck’s story:
I am a 25-year veteran of law enforcement. I started at the age of 18, as a Community Service Officer. I applied for and got a police officer position, shortly after graduating from college. I worked for that first department for a few years, then moved to a bigger department, and stayed there. My resume looks just like every other cop’s resume after 20 years: Detective, traffic officer, FTO, SWAT officer, Sergeant.
It all looks great on my resume, which I wouldn’t need to use, since I was going to work until age 55 and then retire comfortably on a fishing boat in Florida or an island in the Caribbean.
I had a couple of severe on-duty injuries. I fought back after the first one (that was only 13 broken bones, a traumatic brain injury, and the loss of much of my hearing). I was only back awhile when the second one happened – a debilitating shoulder injury. The doctor told me I would never be the same (I already wasn’t!).
I retired with 21 years in PERA, and had a pretty good pension. I spend 13 months working my way through the retirement process, and during that time, started getting my ducks in a row, for the next phase of my career, which would supposedly be in the private sector, working a high-buck consulting job, building on my oh-so-impressive resume, which included a BA and MA from a prestigious university.
All I knew was law enforcement. All of my adult life, I walked ONLY in that circle. I was lost. I worked briefly as a college teacher, as a probation officer, and yes, as a standup comedian. I even drove for Uber.
I woke up one day, now 45 years old, and realized I couldn’t truly retire (or live off the pay from road-comedy gigs) at such a young age.
A friend who had also recently retired had been trying to convince me to be a Realtor. My first thought was “No way. I’m not a salesman”.
Guess what? I WAS! All those years of law enforcement set me up perfectly for this career. I was #3 in my office of 140 agents my first two full years in real estate. It turns out that being a Realtor is a lot like being a police officer – search warrants, difficult people, negotiation, mediation, being on-call, and lots of great stories, many of which rival the ones I stumbled across as a cop.
I am my own boss. No one, not even dispatch, gets to tell me when to work, where to go, and what to handle. I get out of this job, exactly what I put into it, and I put a lot into it. It’s fun! Why wouldn’t I? I still get to impact peoples’ lives at one of the most stressful times, and now I truly get paid for it.
Are you retired from law enforcement? You should talk to me… I have a bridge to sell you!
Bright Birch Real Estate
Sergeant (Ret.), Bloomington Police Department