It's no wonder young officers in the PSNI feel demoralised. For Catholic recruits recent events have proved especially challenging. These men and women joined a force that was meant to be all about "policing the peace" in the new Northern Ireland.
They were assured by the principal combatants that this new service had the trust of all sides and was empowered by society to go about the business of law enforcement with the full confidence of all parties.
Instead, nearly three decades after the ceasefires, terror gangs still exist, confident enough to put on shows of strength or give dead comrades a paramilitary-style send-off. The political rhetoric is often straight out of the Seventies and Eighties too. And everything is always elevated immediately to crisis point.
Let's be clear: the optics of recent events are terrible, especially for Chief Constable Simon Byrne. PSNI officers are unhappy and many in the wider community found the images unnerving.
First, a 50-strong UVF gang was filmed in east Belfast, forcing residents to take shelter in a community centre, while bobble-hatted brigadiers sought to resolve "tensions" between loyalist factions - all observed by a couple of police officers.
Four days later, amid chaotic scenes again posted on social media, two officers handcuffed and arrested Mark Sykes at a memorial event of the loyalist massacre at the Sean Graham bookmakers on the Ormeau Road.
Mr Sykes has suffered grievously. He was shot during the 1992 atrocity and his brother-in-law was one of the five men killed. He's admitted swearing at police, but says he was not physically aggressive and has accused the officers of over-reacting.
Unsavoury and regrettable as this incident is, did the temperature around it really need to be raised to boiling point?
That it was is down to the reactions of politicians who should have known better. Some might think it makes SF "look hard" by giving the PSNI a kicking - but all it does is play into the hands of dissident republicans by fuelling negative attitudes towards officers.
Simon Byrne clearly reckoned his swift apology would calm the situation but it backfired. Publicly announcing one officer had been suspended and another repositioned led to claims the inexperienced pair were being scapegoated even as the Police Ombudsman's investigation was just beginning.
Since then it's been reported that neither officer - one a Catholic from the Irish Republic, the other a Protestant - knew anything about the atrocity being remembered. They also apparently sought guidance from senior colleagues when they saw a crowd that appeared to be defying pandemic restrictions.
The perception of young officers being hung out to dry when they were only following the advice of superiors is not a good look for Mr Byrne.
Two PSNI officers, Stephen Carroll and Ronan Kerr, have been murdered by dissident republicans. The terrorist threat in Northern Ireland remains "severe" - as MI5 restated this week.
I remember the secrecy surrounding friends' fathers in the RUC. Uniforms were dried indoors. Youngsters were taught to lie about dad's job. Parents checked beneath cars before the school run. It's appalling police families still live like that today.
A career in the PSNI is fraught with risk. Paramilitaries of whatever hue won't appreciate a constable living next door. Given traditional attitudes of the nationalist community towards members of the security forces, Catholics are likely to face greater hostility. Many end up moving away from family for a new secret life.
That's why the fall-out from the past fortnight is so dangerous and damaging.
Sinn Fein has a particular responsibility in how it handles such sensitive issues. They've encouraged young Catholics to join the PSNI. Last year Michelle O'Neill joined the Chief Constable at a recruitment drive.
The most memorable intervention, however, came in 2009 when Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, speaking after the Real IRA murder of Constable Carroll, referred to his killers "as traitors to the island of Ireland". Such emphatic leadership was owed then to the young people who put their lives on the line for the peace we all want, just as it's owed to them now.
When issues arise it's incumbent upon SF to have a measured response, rather than caricaturing the PSNI the way they did the RUC. That's not to say police actions shouldn't be rigorously questioned or subject to accountability. But there has to be sense of perspective and understanding of the day-to-day pressures of the job.
Mr Sykes deserves a full explanation as to the events that engulfed him as he remembered those murdered on a day that haunts him.
However two rookie PSNI officers need empathy too. No one could seriously think the pair intervened out of political malice. They probably weren't even born at the time of the ceasefires. Those who train officers should ensure they've a working knowledge of NI's history.
Perhaps another relatively new PSNI recruit needs a steep learning curve too on the nuances here. Sorry certainly doesn't seem to be the hardest word for Mr Byrne. We've had apologies for his Christmas Day tweet when he posed with heavily armed officers in Crossmaglen, the handling of the Black Lives Matter protest and, now, the Ormeau Road. We're awaiting the findings of the investigation into Bobby Storey's funeral.
His proposal to remove the words 'Police Service of Northern Ireland' from uniforms angered unionists but if anything Mr Byrne's an Equal Opportunities Offender, annoying both sides. Maybe he can draw scant comfort from that.
He's probably come to dread the phrase "social media footage" but a clip this week may provide further solace - that of the "little woman in the red coat" who won thousands of fans.
Coming across a car stopped by the PSNI in Lenadoon, she gave one of its passengers an earful. But what came across loud and clear was just how much the public craves a normal society where the police get on with doing their job.
The PSNI not only deserve our support; they are owed it.
Who else would stick their necks on the line to keep peace in this dreadful place?