There were good friends there. We have shared a lot over the years. Blood sweat and tears? Yeah. As much as we protected each other's safety we also, when we could, kept each other sane. It's easy to spend so much time with killers and hustlers that you start to confuse that place with the world. Seeing good, honorable, men and women every day gave us all permission to be better than the dark. When something, either a particular event or just the mass of stuff, got to you there was always someone to talk to.
Some people did get damaged. They were usually the ones who didn't talk.
Keeping them safe and keeping them sane was the job. Everything, every last thing, centered around that. Even taking care of the prisoners, dealing respectfully and humanly (you can be humane without being human, being human is both). That is what sergeants were for. Directives would come down, some of them breath-takingly out of touch with reality... and it was the job of the sergeants to find some way to make it work. Safely.
The number of truly bad decisions, and their impact, had been steadily increasing. Some of them would have made satirist Jonathan Swift proud: "We are NOT lowering standards, sergeant. We are simply changing the standards so that more people pass."
There was more. I was burning out and wanted more challenge, but like most people, that alone wouldn't have been enough to make me leave a job I loved. It took more. When the last line was crossed...
But I had to leave people behind. People I still care about. People who have to deal with stuff with a little less support. They'll be fine. I know that. One person left (more, now- some fine officers have left as well) but there are still many, many good people there. And they will take care of each other.
But every so often I still feel guilty.