As a rookie police officer, my opinion on
anything didn't mean anything to
anybody.  My sergeant watched me like a
hawk; he even made sure I was in his
leave group so that I'd never be out from
under his watchful eye.  He was critical of
nearly everything I did; even though, I
pointed out to him that nearly everything
I did was under his direct supervision.
While he was never abusive toward me, I
was sure he didn't like me...oh boy, was I
wrong.   Good leadership has its
rewards.  A few years later, that sergeant
retired, and I hounded everybody in the
district for a contribution toward his
retirement gift.  When I presented him
with the gift, he looked puzzled and said,
"I thought you didn't like me."   Oh boy,
was he wrong.

Like I said, a lot of things have changed.  
The pay is dramatically better, and the
opportunities for overtime are not in
short supply.  However, your chances of
joining a department as operationally and
administratively efficient as the one I
joined is rapidly becoming a thing of the
past.  Most of the older, experienced
leadership are gone, and they've been
replaced with a new breed of leadership
more interested in enhancing their
personal resumes than providing you
with an organizationally stable and
efficient working environment.  It's not
that they would intentionally deny you
stability, but the pursuit of personal
aggrandizement simply requires a lot of
time and effort.

You could get lucky.  You could have
good people looking after you, as I did,
during those critical early years of your
career.  More likely, you'll find yourself
surrounded by police officers as young
and inexperienced as yourself.  Your
sergeant might only be a few years older
than you and a lightweight when it comes
to knowledge and experience.  If your
department is organizationally weak from
people constantly "thinking out of the
box," the youth and inexperience around
you could be detrimental to your
success.  More than ever before, a new
police officer needs to seek out the
knowledge to recognize and
address situations and circumstances
essential to one's success.
Becoming a
Police Officer:  An Insider's Guide to a
Career in Law Enforcement
is my
contribution to that quest.
Then and Now
A lot of things have changed since I was
a 23 year old rookie police officer.  The
pay wasn't that good, and the
opportunity for overtime was almost
non-existent.  I joined a police
department that was so efficient in its
operations that if you failed to comply
with even a minor requirement, someone
would track you down and dog you; until,
you were in compliance.  Overtime wasn't
available, because the patrol division was
so well staffed and deployed, there
wasn't a need to require overtime.  The
administrative procedures were so tight
you couldn't lose a piece of paper even if
you tried.  You could ask ten different
supervisors the
same question and get
same answer.

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