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
qualifications.

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 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.
 
Copyright © 2015  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com
Police and
Politics