What are your options when your supervisor doesn’t care about grunt cops?

A recent article on THE BROTHERHOOD drew responses from many.  Most were positive.  I want to share part of an email that came from an officer in New York.  He is really frustrated.

While we might not be able to “fix” the world, we may be able to do a better job of coping with it and improving our own self defense mechanisms.  Here is part of his message to me.


 The hardest part of the survival of the brotherhood is not tactics, training, education, or physical fitness, because these are the enjoyable parts of “the job.”

Oh no, the hardest part is surviving the administrative jungle!!!    Give me a clean bill of health and a few cool tools like guns, Tasers, cuffs, a crew that I love to work with and we could conquer the world.

Problems set in when you attach a couple supervisors who are only focused on climbing the ‘COPorate’ ladder.  Their primary goal is getting to retirement and jumping onto the political gravy-train as an elected (or appointed) official.

Too often, this becomes a “reward” for those who haven’t been “on the street” in years but made certain to cover for the politicians at every turn.   These “cops” couldn’t write a citation or a solid report to save their butts.

JOB STRESS – let me beat a drug dealer into the dirt and then shoot his pit-bull in the head.  Ice the cake with actually having the DA’s office go for a conviction (not a plea bargain) and a JUDGE throwing this dirtball in a jail (not a prison resort for higher education) so the jerk is suffering for what he did.

For most cops, these are actually stress relievers.  I would love to come to work and do that.   Mix in a few chances to return a lost child to their mother, help an old lady across the street, make a difference in the life of a child that just stole a pack of gum from the store and got caught – hell, sign me up.  I will be a COP 24 hrs a day.  You bet your ass when I see “something” off duty, I will be all over it.   There will be no crime, assholes, druggies, pimps or rude people in my world.  I am a COP.   This is my hometown.  This is my beat.


Wow.  That’s a page-full.

As I see it, the majority of job frustration and dissatisfaction in coppery comes from within the walls of the police station, rather than from the assholes we arrest and the public we protect and serve.

People are drawn to police work for the obvious reasons, i.e. catching bad guys, helping others, fast cars, etc.  We train recruits hard and do our best to ensure that everyone on our crew behaves like a hard-hitting Alpha Male.   Once trained, we tell them to go do the job.

Then it turns bad:   Rookies often learn that their supervisors don’t back them up.   Officers get a mixed bag of directions, depending on which sergeant or LT is on duty at any particular moment.  The judicial system routinely cuts loose the dirtbags that the cop worked hard to catch.  Grunt cops get reprimands for doing what they were trained to do and they get shit on because they aren’t one of the ‘Golden Boys’.

Promotions and “atta-boys” are rarely given out based on merit, but rather for all of the wrong reasons – and everybody knows it.  But, no one will speak up for fear of becoming a target.

This is the kind of mis-management that is text-book classic.  It kills private businesses every day.  Private sector operations that are managed this way don’t last long.

It’s similar the husband who tries to please his wife by helping her around the house.  But, no matter what he does, it isn’t right.  She re-does everything he touches.  Rather than offer thanks for what he’s done, she’s complains that he didn’t do it the way she would have.  What happens?  He stops helping.  His motivation is sucked dry.  We all know that guy.  Hell, we may even BE that guy.

What makes you think we will react any differently if we get the same treatment at work?

Too many good cops spend the last half of their careers counting the days until they can get out. (Note the comment of a Chicago cop in my last article.)  Many are frustrated in their jobs to the point that they hate going to work.  Many cops are only doing the bare minimum required to get by.

Mis-management perpetuates itself.   There’s an agency on the west side of Detroit.  It is home to one of the Big 3 American auto makers.  The culture of mis-management, favoritism, and rewarding all of the wrong behavior has turned the work environment into a cesspool.   Before being promoted above the level of patrolman, existing managers makes sure that the candidate “thinks like we do.”

Management has been drinking the Kool-Aid for so long that it’s become an incestuous mess.   Many believe that the correction will come only with a wholesale replacement of every person above the rank of sergeant.

It may go even deeper:  this tainted management style can pervert the hiring process.  Does this really happen?  You betcha.  Is it a freak anomaly?  Unfortunately, no.

The result? There’s an entire agency operating as though the cops have one hand tied behind their collective backs.  The residents pay full price for police services but certainly don’t get the full service they are paying for.

The culprit is: mis-management.  Those words aren’t strong enough.  It’s egregious management.

In any arena outside government, it would be squelched quickly and with certainty.  That needs to happen in our world too, but it probably won’t.

An agency near my home in Central Florida got a new chief about five years ago: he was the politician’s ‘kiss-up’.  Since then, every one of the rank-and-file who could get out, ran for the door.  A thirty-man agency has lost over twenty-five.  It’s a real cozy deal for the chief and the local politicians.  For the grunt cops:  not so much.

A former officer of the above agency recently was quoted, “The real cops who are dedicated, have morals, ethics, and solid core reasons to be a cop are (a majority of the time) the ones who become targets.  The cop who works hard and cares about citizens reporting a crime is the one this kind of chief ridicules for wanting to do the right thing. The Devil also works amongst us and we have to fight to get past it!”

What can one cop do?

Discussion of such topics usually requires beer.   But it’s only 7:00AM here and I know that my wife would object if she found me buzzed at the computer when she gets up in a little while.  <sigh>

Philosophically speaking, a grunt cop can take the high road.   He can choose to rise above the petty B.S.   It’s about attitude.  Remember this phrase, “attitude, more than aptitude, determines one’s altitude.”  No matter how petty, frustrating, or crazy the supervisors may be, try to find something positive in each task and every day.

Remember that even in a pile of fresh cow manure, flies can find something valuable to them.

Each situation is different.  It can be really, really hard to find a positive aspect when the award for great street-cop work goes to an officer who is known by all to be a slacker and incompetent.   It’s even worse when that “decorated” female officer has been sleeping with the chief.   I know – I’ve been there.

Sometimes the best you can do is self-preservation, and consider the source.  Shrug it off.  Don’t expect more.  Just like you don’t expect to be sitting next to the crack whore you arrested last week when you go to church on Sunday.  Keep your expectations low and it will help your mental attitude.

Reward yourself.  Do it mentally.  Recognize when you’ve gone the extra distance.   And, if someone compliments you on something you’ve done, don’t deflect of defer the kind words.  Simply say, “thank you.”  That will make both you and the compliment giver of the compliment feel better.  If appropriate, share your good experience – with a co-worker or your significant other.

It is important that you remember that your world is made up of 800,000+ American cops.  We are bound together by the blood of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  No ‘tin-horn’ chief or administrator can diminish the bond of The Brotherhood.

Each May, about 25,000 of us go to Washington D.C. to remember.  We have vowed to Honor and Never Forget.  For those who cannot be there, know that your brothers carry you in their hearts as they pay homage to the fallen.

Focus on this fact:  You are doing God’s work on this earth.   He is the REAL Commander in Chief.   He will reward your service on Judgment Day.  We are told that “peacemakers are blessed.”  Believe it with all of your heart.

It’s very tough to deal with supervisors who are assholes.  We can’t imagine how they got the job – but it in our hearts, we know how.   And, we know that we’d never stoop that low.  We will be true to our Oath and each other.  That’s what is important.

Rise above the BS.  Remember who you are serving.  Always know that you are part of a Band of Brothers that dwarfs every shift, every bureau, every agency that will ever exist.  Your brothers know you for who and what you are.  Know that God is smiling upon those who do His work from the goodness of their hearts.

Make the best you can of each assignment and each day.  Try to smile through the worst of it.  To each job take the notion that you are doing it under the watchful eyes of your children, your spouse, your parents, and your Maker.

Keep a Positive Mental Attitude because it is your greatest defense to those who treat you poorly.

As always, I welcome feedback.  Email me: jim@copblueblog.com.   I’d like to hear from you.

Be strong.  Be staunch.  Watch their hands.  Get home safely.

At the bottom line, it’s about saving just ONE life.