Entries in Ask the Chief (2)


Ask the Chief: How do you stay positive in this profession?

Q. “How do you stay positive in this profession?”



A.We graduate from the academy and enter the realm of Law Enforcement. All of a sudden we face an enormous amount of negativity. For instance: we hear all of the complaining from our peers on just about every subject possible: we read and hear negative media reports often times from reporters that have very few facts correct in their stories: we feel extremely depressed when we don’ t make the promotion we have anticipated: and we often deal with hostile citizens who really don’ t want us around. So why do we still stay in this profession and remain positive? Because we love it and not everyone can do it. We are a special breed! Think about it. How many candidates started in your academy class and how many graduated and how many of those that did graduate are still in the profession today?

Every career you enter will not be perfect but that doesn’ t mean that it is not a great career for you. You must look past the negatives and find the positives and that is exactly what we must do in Law Enforcement.

If you think about it our job is mostly dealing with the negatives in peoples’ lives. The burglaries, robberies, homicides, suicides, etc all have a negative impact on the victims lives as well as ours. And if you don’ t look on the positive side of these calls you will also fall into a very negative depression.

Now looking on the positive side is sometimes easier said than done. Remember this job has no conscience and will chew you up and spit you out and not think twice about it! So now we must work on becoming positive in our thoughts and actions. Anyone can sit around and complain and we all know that misery loves company but it takes a special individual to stand up and become a positive influence.

Now don’ t get me wrong, I am not saying that I was never a negative influence on certain things hell, I have been in Law Enforcement 37 years but I learned that when I changed to a positive outlook, situations on the job looked a lot better.

I always state “ stay positive,” both in your professional and you personal life. Don’ t look at just the fact that a burglary is negative incident, turn it into a positive interaction with the victim. Demonstrate that you are there to assist them and hopefully apprehend the suspect and if at all possible return some if not all of the missing property. This is not necessarily a “ pipe dream,” you are there to make them feel safer in your community, that is your job. Feel good that they called you for help. Out of all the people in your community, you are there to assist. What a great feeling, not everyone can say that.

If you don’ t make the promotion you wanted, it is ok to be upset but don’ t let it linger, “ get over it” and move on making sure that the next time you take a promotional exam you “ ace it.” This is when you turn a negative experience and make it work for you by being the best candidate on the list and make it difficult for the Chief not to select you.

Sure I know that there are times that everything turns south and it is almost impossible to stay positive, but that is when you have to dig deeper inside yourself and find that positive influence and work with it when you are with your peers and the citizens of your community. Don’ t let others dictate your feelings. You be the positive role model and have the “ can do” attitude. I guarantee that you will feel different about yourself and your profession. And soon others might just change their attitude and improve the work environment. It is worth a shot, what do you have to lose.


Stay Positive!

If any of you have any other ideas or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Also if there are any topics you wish to discuss, let me know by using our "Ask the Chief" form at the top of the page.


Ask the Chief: Reserve or Full Time Officer

Q. “Should I look for a position as a reserve officer and obtain my college degree or take a position that has been offered as a full time officer?”



A.The basic question is what do you want to do? Do you want to finish college now or several years down the road? In the 70’s and 80’s some people did become reserves prior to becoming regular sworn officers but usually there were certain circumstances surrounding these decisions. 

 For example, when I started in the 60's if you wanted to be a career police officer you strived for full time status. Usually, only volunteers were reserves. In the 80's, when I became a Police Chief, we were paying reserves (no benefits) and utilizing them for more demanding functions.  The qualifications to become a reserve changed as did the requirements for the reserve academy.  With this in mind we looked at reserves differently and if we had a full compliment of sworn police officers we would ask the candidate if he/she would be willing to work as a reserve officer until an opening occurred. 

 This was for two reasons: 


  1. We could review the reserve officer and determine if they met our standards and would fit into our department as well as avoiding the time and expense of academy training. This benefitted the department as well as giving the candidate on the job training to learn if the department was a "fit" for them.
  2. The reserve officer would help the manpower of the department and not cost as much as a full time sworn officer. I am not trying to sound cold but you have to remember this is a business with tight budgets and the officer is a resource. Often times we have individuals who don't want to be full time police officers but just want to give back to the community and they are full time reserves.  


Now, back to your question... I firmly believe that if you have an opportunity to be a full time police officer, then take the position. You really don't know when the next opening will occur and you may be on the outside looking in, especially in these unsteady times. I believe that you have to continue your education but you can complete it during your career. You probably won't attend classes during your first year on the job because you will be attempting to pass probation and your attention should be directed towards that goal. After you pass probation, then you may begin to complete your education. It may only be one or two classes a semester but you will be on the road to obtaining your degree. 

If you currently have a department doing your background then they have an interest in you now and they are spending time and money on you and they need a commitment. In this economy we can't always plan ahead the way we would like. When looking for a job or career in law enforcement you have to accept the position, if that is truly what you want to do, because there are several other candidates waiting to take your place. Remember many agencies have a freeze on hiring because of budget constraints.

Stay positive.

If any of you have any other ideas or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Also if there are any topics you wish to discuss, let me know by using our "Ask the Chief" form at the top of the page.