Mike Wilson is worried about burning out. His job as a vice officer keeps him on the street and in court 14 hours a day.

"You wonder if it's worthwhile," he said as he waited in a witness room at Superior Court for a trial. "Every year you get more burned out. I used to think it was crazy to count the days to retirement. Now I'm counting the years."

Wilson, 31, spends a lot of time in court because he makes a lot of arrests. "In eight hours you have to do something. You can't turn your head away from what you see. If you see it you have to do something about it, and then you end up here in court."

Wilson says he finds police work unsatisfying because, "very few drug people go to jail. It is very frustrating. This is definitely not a satisfying job. People you know are guilty as sin, and they still get out."

Ten years ago, Wilson says, the job was fun. He says he enjoyed chasing people, pretending he was Baretta, a television detective.

"Now it's no fun anymore. Three of my friends got killed. Now you just try to survive. . . . The only thing that means anything to me is my family. Everything else is secondary.

"My main aspiration is to get to the 20th year without getting killed or fired."