When you apply to a police department,
you'll probably be presented with a sunny
picture of all the opportunities available
for advancement defined by length of
service and examinations.  At that point
you'll believe that your acquisition of
knowledge, experience, and your
placement on competitive examinations
will determine your subsequent lateral or
upward movement within the
department.  Think again.

Have you ever wondered why the true
definition of politics has been long lost?  
It's probably because politics is most
often associated with people who use
means other than quality and substance
to seek advancement.  When you begin
your career as a police officer, you're
going to see a lot of politics defined as
who you know and who knows you.  How
you're known and by whom will have
everything to do with your ability to
obtain assignments or advancements
regardless of your expertise or

The culture of politics exists everywhere;
however, unlike private enterprise where
profit is indispensable, government is
simply a quagmire of political corruption,
nepotism, and favoritism...some
governments are just worse than
others.  Since profit is not a
consideration in government, it can carry
considerably more dead weight than any
private enterprise.

The size of the police department you
join will determine how many people
reside in the dead weight category.  You'll
soon learn that just because a person is
considered dead weight by most, that
classification need not negatively affect
that person's lateral or upward
movement.  During your career you'll
work with and for people who are clearly
in over their heads.  In government,
unlike private industry, these people can
last for a long time.  In those instances
where they begin causing harm, they'll
simply be moved to a position where they
can do less harm.  You'll even see these
types promoted and hidden away from
operational activities.
"Those who suck up while
maintaining their integrity are those
who practice sucking up as a true art
form." ~ Barry M. Baker
Things would really be nice if everything
were based on true and fair competition.  
The strength and quality of your efforts
and accomplishments would be the
determining factors in establishing your
level of advancement within your chosen
Don't despair.  Things are the way they
are.  In the beginning, you'll have your
hands full just learning the things you
need to learn.  As a new police officer,
you'll be in patrol which is literally the
backbone of your police department.  
You should give yourself at least three
years as a patrol officer, before you start
thinking about moving onward and
upward.  Realistically, three years will only
provide you limited experience; however,
I too was young once, and I realize how
young people think.  You could, as I did,
shun the intrigue of departmental politics
and remain a patrol officer for twenty
years...as I did.  Looking back, I did it the
hard way.  However, I had tons of
experience once I dodged all the

If you decide to get into the politics of
the job, your biggest and most critical
decision will be who to suck up to.  
Things and circumstances can change
rapidly.  In the past, police culture was a
pretty stable environment.  Not so
today.  You could find yourself investing
a lot of time and effort cultivating
relationships with people who are in
today and out tomorrow.  The successful
suck up will keep his or her options
open.  In other words, sucking up is an
art defined in two parts:  the suck up's
ability to not offend those who could be
part of the tomorrow crowd; and the
suck up's ability to seamlessly transfer
allegiances on very short notice.

The real trick to sucking up is maintaining
your integrity.  For some, sacrificing
one's integrity is not a big deal.  While
sacrificing your integrity will make sucking
up a lot easier, that's not the way you
want to go.  Those who suck up while
maintaining their integrity are those who
practice sucking up as a true art form.  
Copyright © 2015  Barry M. Baker  
Police and

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