ST. JOSEPH -- Walking into the unknown and always being on guard can make being a police officer a stressful career. The job ranks as #4 on our top 10 most stressful jobs list, developed by Since he was was child, St. Joseph Police Chief Joel Klein dreamed about being a cop.

"As far as I can remember, going back into kindergarten because usually in kindergarten is the first experience seeing the squad car, seeing the police officer and going to the office. Right then is when I fell in love with it, it's something I've always wanted to do."

Klein studied psychology at St. John's University then transferred to Alexandria Technical College to go into law enforcement. He became a police officer in 1998 and took over as St. Joseph's Police Chief in 2013.

Much of Klein's daily duties include administrative work, paperwork, responding to emails and going to city meetings. But he also has to manage his team of officers and go on calls. Klein says when he goes into work every day he never knows what's in store for him.

"There's always something, I am never bored in my day, I know that when I get to work, usually at 7 o'clock, I can easily have a 10 hour day, to 12-14 hour day depending on what happens. Sometimes we have to arrest people, take them to jail other times we have to write tickets, it's just apart of the job."

One of the biggest challenges of being a police officer is keeping the peace.

"What's most important to me is that people feel safe. My biggest pet peeves are thieves and burglars because we don't know who the thieves are and we don't know who the burglars are, of course through investigation we have the chance to find out, and we know some of these people just because we deal with it. But what takes away peoples feeling of safety is the people that come in, they take something from their house and they don't know who was in their house, and they feel violated. Now if someone is outside and they want to beat up some other guy, we know who these people are, we deal with it but thieves and burglars drive me absolutely crazy because they are taking away peoples sense of security."

Going out and meeting the people in your community, delivering a baby when a mother can't make it to the hospital or being a crossing guard after school, Klein says having to play so many roles can add more stress to the position.

"We're expected to do a lot of things, we're expected to be counselors, doctors, sidewalk patrol because we need to make sure the sidewalks have the snow removed. It's almost an endless list of things that we do."

With putting in long hours working with the same team, sometimes officers can get a little grouchy with each other.

"Police officers are a family and just like in any family when you spend a lot of time together, be it at your house, your mom and dad, your siblings, you get married your wife, kids, significant other, whatever you choose, there's going to be those issues that's like really, do you half to do it that way or do you have to do this."

But as with everyone, no one is promised a tomorrow.

"There's never a guarantee when we come into work that we're going to make it home. Personally me, do I think about that stuff all the time, no because if I thought about it all the time, all someone would do would be worried all the time about what's going to come up here and pop up there, you can't do that. That's why we train, that's why we train, that's why we train, so we're ready for situations. That's why we have our experiences of the past and experiences of other police officers that when we go into situations we know how to handle it and hopefully have the best outcome, with no injury and no death. That goes for not only the police officers but those who we are dealing with."

With police shootings, claims of police brutality and other incidents accusing police of acting unlawfully, officers are being judged now more than ever by the public.

"Unfortunately, some of these other things that have happened where a lot of times stories are one sided which is very frustrating because there's always two sides to every story. I'll be the first one to say along with many of my colleagues, if a cop screws up we just need to admit it, because it happens, and it's going to happen, we're not perfect but deal with it. Deal with whatever happens and if there's a consequence you have to deal with the consequence. The big thing is, instead of dwelling on how bad things are with some situation, how about we go okay we had a bad situation, not everybody is that way, how do we fix that situation so it doesn't happen again and learn from it."

When it comes to using his gun, Klein says he'd be happy if he never had to use it until he retires. In his 19-years in law enforcement he's only had to draw his gun, never fire it.

"We never ever ever want to use our service weapon. We don't want people to die in a situation ever. But unfortunately, depending on how things happen there's certain things that [can occur and] we need to protect ourselves, we need to protect other people and we don't have an option."

On the other side, several people are speaking out and showing their support for the police.

"One benefit that's come out of the climate today is a lot more people have come to us and [say] we support you, we appreciate what you do and keep doing what you're doing."

With his high stress career, Klein says he enjoys working on his family's farm to unwind. He also likes to read, go on walks and binge watch shows on Netflix.

Tune in next week as we check out our #3 most stressful job, being a airplane pilot.

St. Joseph Police Chief Joel Klein goes out on patrol. (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)
St. Joseph Police Chief Joel Klein goes out on patrol. (Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)

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