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 properly 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.
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 the same answer.
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