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Let's Talk About Preparation

The purpose of preparation is to raise the bar so others must participate at your level!


First and foremost, don’t be shy about your intentions.  Let your Supervisors know that you are planning to promote and that you are willing to handle all assignments, especially those with responsibility.   Make your intentions known and take advantage of your promotional opportunity by approaching the process with a positive, upbeat attitude! I remember an Officer who at every possible opportunity told me that he was going to be my next Sergeant. He also saw my wife at a car wash and told her the same thing, and you know what?—He was!!! 


The promotional process should be one of the best experiences of your career.  You are about to embark on an outstanding journey that will change your life forever.


Many people have asked me over the years what they need to do to prepare for their promotions. My response has always been: education-education-education.  Bachelor Degrees are as common as an A.A. Degree. More Officers are obtaining their Masters Degree, so it is incumbent for you to remain competitive in the promotional process, and the more education you have the more competitive you will remain.


Will you automatically get the position because you have completed your education?  No, but it will demonstrate to the raters and your Chief that you have initiative, and you strive to constantly improve yourself.  Besides, it helps to move that gray matter around in your brain.


Now I know that going to school will take a lot of time away from your family and areas of interest but you must realize (and again I ask that you remain positive in this endeavor) that in order to remain competitive, and obtain the position that you desire, sacrifices must be made.


As Chief, I did not appreciate excuses from my personnel for not continuing their education, and there were a number of them.  For example: Officers would say they didn’t have enough time off to enjoy themselves so they didn’t want to take what time they did have and go to school. Other statements consisted of:  “I just had a child and I want to spend time with him”; “ the cost of schooling is too high, and the Department doesn’t reimburse my tuition”; “shift work makes it impossible”; “my spouse doesn’t see me as it is, and if I go to school it will cause problems at home”; “education is not that important- if they don’t know who I am and what my abilities are by now, then education is not going to help me obtain my goal.”


I am not a complete Ogre and I realize that there are certain times when returning to school are tough, especially when you are assigned undercover details or other specialty assignments that have irregular hours.  BUT going to school doesn’t mean that you have to attend everyday and take a full course load.  If you can take one class a semester or every other semester, you are still demonstrating initiative in achieving your goals.


While being a husband with a beautiful and supporting wife, and a father with two very young children, and while working in Patrol, and then in Detectives it took me ten years to complete two years of college to obtain my Bachelor of Science in Police Science. So I know and understand the difficulties but I kept working to complete this phase of my education, and it eventually paid off.


If you want to make excuses, and you think that education is a waste of time, then it doesn’t appear that your future career (or the upcoming promotion) is very important to you. So if you want to show initiative and go for that promotion, find a solution that will work in your situation and move forward in attaining your goal. 


Along with education, there are other areas you can research to help prepare yourself for the Assessment Center and/or your Oral Board presentation.  Take time to expand your horizons and read as much as possible on various subjects.  There are many good books depicting the leadership roles in Law Enforcement.  Read two or three, as they are good reviews, but also go outside the box and read other books on leadership that have been written for the private sector.  For example, Tony Robbins, Tom Peters, Warren Bennis, Lee Iacocca, and former New York Mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani have written excellent books on leadership and management.  I would also recommend books written by coaches and military personnel, such as basketball coach and player Pat Riley, the biography of Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi, or Army Generals such as Colin Powell and “Stormin” Norman Schwarzkoph – All are people who had very different personalities and styles and you either loved them or hated them but above all, you respected them. They were not afraid to take risks, and they motivated their personnel; they learned by their mistakes, and they thought outside the box.  Status quo was not good enough for them.  They were innovators who were always looking for ways to improve themselves and others.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has produced a brochure entitled “Police Leadership Development Reading List,” which provides a number of leadership books that are worth investigating.  You can obtain this brochure by contacting the,

  • ·      U.S. Department of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice, or by writing to:

International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 N. Washington Street, Alexandria Va. 22314 USA.


You can always write to me at leaddogpromo@yahoo.com and I will send you a reading list that will benefit your goals.

Leadership is leadership.  It doesn’t matter whether you are in Law Enforcement or the private sector, you are dealing with people who either work for you or who are your customers.  Yes, your citizens are your customers and your job is to provide leadership for your personnel, which in turn will help to provide the best possible customer service.


Besides reading books, there are other ways for you to improve, such as listening to various self-improvement tapes.  There are time management and motivational tapes on cassettes or CDs.  There are numerous authors, like Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager;  Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; Wess Roberts, Ph.D. Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun and the world’s greatest salesman Zig Zigler, to name a few.


Don’t feel you have to follow everything these authors say, because you don’t.  Some ideas may not be your style, but they will give you something to think about.  There may be a few areas that you don’t like about yourself and should change.  Self-evaluation is a good tool and should be an ongoing process. I can guarantee you that the person I was as Chief of Police was not the same person who started out as a rookie cop 37 years prior.  We mature, create different career goals, and visualize a different future for ourselves, personally and professionally. This ongoing self-evaluation process is really great because if you don’t change, you will become stagnant, which, in turn, will cause boredom -- and eventually you will burn out. 

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