Working hard for a promotion is a good thing … if that is what you want to do with your career. I felt that this was the direction that I wanted to go so I did the hours of studying to do my best on tests, prep for assessment centers, and all of the other stuff that goes into the act of getting promoted.
But, what about who you are? Have you been a slug, a hard charger or a middle of the road officer? I’ve heard officers that were on the low end of the scale say out loud, “I want to get promoted so I can fuck with people.” What the crap!!! Is that their only motivation? How does that bode for the rank and file? Not well, I’m guessing.
I’ve also seen the superstars get promoted. Guess what? Neither type did that well as a boss. Some of the super cops just don’t know how to manage their energy into a command.
When I was first promoted to Sergeant, I was out doing everything that I’d always done. A senior sergeant grabbed me and told me that it was ok to get involved but when the cavalry gets there, step back and be the boss again.
That point was driven home when I cancelled everyone to a road hazard then summarily got hung out for the next hour sitting on the freeway when other incidents were calling for a supervisor.
A MONTH OF HARD LABOR
I finally made Lieutenant. What did that mean to me? A lot! I got the reward that I had worked so hard to get.
Looking back, I considered all the effort that had gone into this achievement: I studied hard. I took a couple months away from my family to study. I worked hard at being good at my current assignment. It seems to have paid off.
During that month, I still took one day at a time. I continued doing all of the other stuff that I had always done. In addition, I continued trying to be the best supervisor and cop that I could be.
IT IS LIKE HAVING TWO JOBS
While doing all of that studying an preparation for the various tests and interviews, I couldn’t slack on the current job.
So what was the “current” assignment? It was the day shift administrative sergeant. There were days when I did so many different things for different people that it seemed I was their mother <sigh>.
- I was the guy who everyone comes to so they can explain why this arrestee is in the booking area.
- I did payroll for the dayshift and turned it in every other week.
- I ran the jail and the part time officer program too.
- As new sergeants were promoted, I would train them on the administrative side of the business.
- If their previous assignment was somewhere other than patrol, I had to remind them of what happens on the patrol side.
- Luckily, I had very competent counterparts working the road to take care of that side of the house.
- My main job, which was not stated in any policy, was to take care of the road officers. There were family issues, staffing, personal stuff, all things that aren’t addressed in any book. They were all on the table.
- Each officer is a person with stuff going on in their lives. They are my brothers and sisters so I felt it was my absolute duty to make their jobs and lives as good as possible.
Sometimes it seemed an obstacle too high, but taking one day at a time and one action at a time could usually make things right.
PRESTO! YOU’RE A LIEUTENANT
Now as a lieutenant, I am working with the current batch of new supervisors to make sure they are up to speed on my old job. I handle complaint calls to the chief’s office and help him with visiting dignitaries, meetings, or other projects. So far, so good. I’ve even been able to work as a range officer again for our in-service training that is currently in process. Shooting guns = Bonus!!
I’m still not sure where I’ll land when the chief does his restructuring. Whether it is a shift, the DB or continuing in the administrative division, it’s all good.
I was told that the additional pay of a Lieutenant wasn’t worth the aggravation. Do we do this job for the pay to begin with? I think not. My dad, a Michigan State Trooper, told me once that I’ll never be rich being a cop but I won’t find more of a memorable job anywhere. I believe him.
WHAT CAN I CONTRIBUTE TO THE FUTURE?
What I do see as the most important contribution that I can make is that the newer crop of officers seem to listen when I address a roll call or speak to them individually about officer safety. I want them to have peace of mind when they are working.
I want to instill in them the important stuff:
- Protect each other from the idiots out there.
- They need to go to Police Week, and unfortunately, occasionally attend a funeral for an officer.
- I don’t want officers second guessing their appropriate actions based on faulty news media.
- I want them to know that I have their backs at my level and I’ll do whatever I can to protect them.
Do we make mistakes? Sure we do. We are human and it comes with the territory. Can we minimize those mistakes and be good cops in the process? I truly believe we can and must.
As a supervisor, I think it’s my job to teach the younger officers that it’s still ok to be a cop. We can’t do things that were done in the past. Hell, we probably shouldn’t have done some of the things that were done in the past.
Let’s move forward and be better at this job than any generation before us. And it all boils down to doing those things one deliberate act at a time and one day at a time.
It’s all about saving just ONE life.
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