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
"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 profession.
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 roadblocks.

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.  
Police and
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker