Let's say your academy training is six months in
duration.  During the second half of that time, you
may be assigned to an FTO (Field Training Officer)
where part of your training will consist of actual
police work where you'll be performing as a fully
functional police officer.  Here's where you'll first
become familiar with performance evaluation reports.

Some police departments will do a much better job
at creating and maintaining standards for their
performance evaluation reports than others.  
However, no matter how objective performance
evaluations are purported to be, it usually comes
down to one individual rating the work performance
of another individual.

Early in my career a young officer approached me
seeking advice.  The officer, in the middle of his first
year probationary period, had received an
unsatisfactory quarterly performance evaluation
from his sergeant.  A second consecutive
unsatisfactory evaluation would mean termination,
so he was obviously concerned.  While I didn't work
with the officer, I'd never heard anyone speak
negatively about him.  His sergeant, on the other
hand, was a different story.  The sergeant had, on
several occasions, asked me to transfer to his
squad.  While the offers were complimentary, I
wasn't about to accept the invitation since I
personally viewed the sergeant as a sadist.

That sergeant's high regard for me ended abruptly
one day after I became involved in a deadly force
situation.  While I would have been perfectly
justified in shooting a suspect, things happened
rapidly, and I ended up apprehending the suspect
without using deadly force.  After learning the
details of my incident, the sergeant promptly
confronted me, and, with a plethora of insulting
comments, he dis-invited me from joining his
squad.  I simply made notes documenting the
sergeant's rude and sadistic comments and tucked
them away just in case, sometime in the future,
someone would try to put me under that sergeant's
supervision.  In contrast, my sergeant was
extremely pleased that I was able to resolve the
situation without using deadly force, and his opinion
was the one that counted.

Back to that young officer.  I advised him to seek a
meeting with his lieutenant, via the chain of
command, and ask to be supervised by another
sergeant for his next quarterly evaluation.  He
followed my advice.  His lieutenant denied his
request, and he subsequently received his next
evaluation from the same sergeant.  Not
surprisingly, he received the second unsatisfactory
evaluation, and his employment was terminated.  I
don't know what ever happened to that officer.  If
he ever did apply to another police agency, those
unsatisfactory evaluations would have dimmed his
prospects for employment considerably.
Oh, well, there's nothing simple in life... or police
work.  It's more than likely that your performance
evaluation report will have some complexity.  While
a written directive should exist to describe how to
interpret and apply different categories, it's a given
that the more categories which exist to rate
performance will dictate the variations in
interpretation and application exercised by individual

As should be expected, your performance
evaluation will enjoy a fairly high level of
confidentiality.  While the subject material should
have restricted access for a variety of reasons, can
you imagine the displeasure and pure dissension
that would be created within your squad if everyone
could compare their performance evaluations?

Fortunately, your performance evaluations will have
little, if any, impact on your career as long as you
remain satisfactory or above.  In fact, you could well
work for a supervisor who has never supervised
anyone who he or she believes excels beyond the
satisfactory, or average, level.  Most of the time,
supervisors who consistently rate people low are
themselves recipients of performance evaluations on
the low end of the scale.

You might ask that since performance evaluations
are so seemingly unreliable, why have them at all?  
It's simply a matter of discipline and control.  For
any supervisor who takes the performance
evaluation seriously, it can be a valuable tool to
address your deficiencies as well as show
recognition for your strengths.  Even though you'll
be a prejudiced reviewer of your evaluation, as long
as your supervisor makes a real effort to fairly,
objectively, and accurately rate your performance,
negative or positive, you'll be able to instantly
recognize that your supervisor has a pretty good
understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.  
When this circumstance exists, the performance
evaluation can have a real and positive effect on
your personal development.
It would be nice if a truly objective performance
evaluation report existed.  Now, I'd get plenty of
arguments from some people who contend they do
exist, but that view would just be the subjective
opinion of those people.  Do you get my point?  
Where ever a person's objectivity is a primary factor
for any procedure, the objectivity of that procedure
becomes questionable.

The only real importance of the performance
evaluation report lies in addressing unsatisfactory
performance.  If the goal is truly objectivity, there
should only be two categories for performance...
satisfactory and unsatisfactory.  Unsatisfactory
should be easy to address since verifiable facts and
circumstances should exist to easily articulate the
basis for a rating of unsatisfactory performance.  
When negative facts and circumstances are absent,
the satisfactory rating leaves no room for subjective
"The only real importance of the performance
evaluation report lies in addressing
unsatisfactory performance." ~ Barry M. Baker
Evaluation Report
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker  
From the beginning to the end of your police career,
your work performance will be continually evaluated
through some form of written evaluation
procedure.  Today, most police departments are
beginning that evaluation of your actual work
performance before the end of your academy
training with a Field Training Officer program.