SO, WHAT’S IN A TITLE ?
No matter in what capacity you are working, assigned to, or given an order from, there is a supervisor or ‘the Chief’ over you. As they say, we’re all under authority from somewhere or someone. Police work has a very special circumstance since even above Lieutenants, there are Captains, and then Colonels, and Chiefs of Police who are appointed. They must answer to Town Boards and the Town Supervisor or Executive.
As I stated, we are all under authority from somewhere. Just because someone supervises you does not mean they are any more intelligent, sagacious or worldly. They’re just above you in rank and position.
I have written before of one such Lieutenant. He was perhaps jealous, envious or hateful that I had a college degree – and he did not. He would kick back any report I wrote with a word or two which one might need to reference a dictionary. His continuous comment was “NO S.A.T. WORDS!!!!” In response, I would ‘dumb-down’ my report, thinking of former Secretary of Education Bill Bennet’s book, “The Dumbing-Down of America.”
THE CHIEF EATS HIS OWN WORDS
One example of calls we would constantly receive were from alarm systems going off with most of them being false. We were obliged to go and always with the hope we would catch a burglary in progress. While only once in my experience did that happen; generally it was the motion sensors being activated by an open window and the wind moving the curtains.
My colleagues’ reports would be the shortest on record, “Checked reachable doors and windows on arrival. All secure. Cleared at 1330 hours.” or some even more brief than that.
I, on the other hand would make a note of vehicles in the driveway taking down VIN and license plate numbers, describing the vehicle (color, whether a coupe or sedan), mentioning any children’s toys scattered throughout the yard and property, any packages left at the front door, and possibly garden tools left by flower beds or around newly planted trees and shrubbery.
My Chief told me that such information was “unnecessary, too lengthy and not required.” In the interest of being thorough, I kept handing in such reports on alarm activations.
As luck would have it, a resident from our upscale community came storming in to his office demanding why, “…no officer came when my alarm went off?!” The Chief pulled up my report and started reading off to this irate civilian what I wrote: cars in the driveway, toys scattered throughout the property, packages left at the front door, second floor windows left open, and even descriptions of cars IN THE GARAGE.
The Chief told me he wished he had an 8×10 glossy of the look on her face at hearing these facts. With the air out of her sails, she left, apologizing and thanking him for the diligence of his men. To his credit, he told me of this incident and admitted all that “unnecessary, too lengthy and not required” information came in quite handy.
I never again heard him complain about my alarm activation reports.
SUPERVISOR STEPS ON HIS OWN TONGUE
Another incident happened with respect to a fatal auto accident. One of my colleagues, as per our S.O.P., asked for the Department photographer to come out to take pictures. The immediate response was from a Lieutenant stating, “Cancel that. I’m coming out.”
Since this supervisor was not the department photographer or a trained P.I.A.A. (personal injury auto accident) photographer, we were all wondering why he belayed that request for a photographer. So, no pictures were taken, no measurements recorded, and no notes other than what the officer at the scene took for his own report. As I always say, “Everything is fine until something happens.”
My colleague received a call from the Assistant District Attorney a few weeks later, asking for the ‘file’ containing pictures, measurements, etc. It seemed the family of the deceased was in the process of suing the county concerning that fatal accident. As you can imagine, this ADA went ballistic when he found out no pictures, measurements or any special information was recorded.
Now we, as the ‘foot soldiers’ on the street and follow orders – this time from the supervisor. When questioned about his reasons for disregarding the request for a photographer, he denied he said that, but it was futile. All radio traffic is recorded and, clear as day, he was heard saying, “No photographer. I’m coming out.”
I never found out what happened in that case but I can imagine, when put “on the spot” so to speak, that supervisor had some difficulty in explaining his actions.
At the bottom line, it’s all about saving just ONE life.
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