Entries in career path (2)


Why would I want to be a supervisor?

I believe one of the best reasons for becoming a supervisor is that you will be a manager in your agency and be a vital player in the development of your subordinates and the department; this should be a prime motivational factor for you. Naturally, there is the monetary incentive that comes with every promotion, which is very important when planning for your future.

As a supervisor, you demonstrate your leadership abilities.  How great is that?  Remember when you used to sit around with your fellow officers and tell them how you could handle a situation so much better than your current supervisor?  This is nothing new; we all did it. This kind of banter is a good thing to participate in as long as you maintain proper respect and continue to follow the orders of your supervisor. This exchange of ideas actually helps to develop your own leadership abilities because you will start to think like a supervisor, which is very important. In fact, if you think about it, it is similar to voting in an election.  There is a saying that “if you didn’t vote in the election, don’t complain about who’s in office.”  It’s the same about becoming a supervisor.  If you feel you would be a good Supervisor and could assist in improving your department and the service that is provided to your citizens, then being promoted is your “vote” or opportunity to provide input on changes you feel are necessary. Or if your department is running smoothly, then you can maintain the status quo.

As a supervisor you will be able to develop information on the best ways to improve procedures and policies that are for the good of the department.  You see, as a supervisor your voice can be heard and you can influence not only your superiors, but also your troops.

Becoming a supervisor is a great thing, something you’ve worked for during your entire career.  It is more than just giving orders or assigning officers to a beat every day. 

  • You are in charge of every situation that occurs out in the field.
  • You will review all of the actions of your officers and determine what training may be useful in their development.
  • You can create scenarios or situations for training purposes.
  • You will face new challenges such as becoming a mentor, a confidant, a cheerleader, a disciplinarian, and you will be able to help other personnel develop their breadth of knowledge in their chosen profession. With your assistance, some day they can advance in their career.
  • You will become a role model to many.  Some officers may not tell you to your face, but you can be sure that if you have been doing your job correctly, you will make an impact.  Others will tell you how much you have meant to their career and how they have patterned their own career after yours.
  • You will be proud that you, as a supervisor, were able to make such a difference. This is one of the highest tributes that anyone can bestow on you. Believe me; your world will change because of it!

As a police chief, I considered all of my supervisors as management, and it didn’t matter if they were first-line supervisor sergeants or captains.  Now I want you to understand I am not speaking for every police chief because we all have our own way of handling various supervisory positions, but here is my thinking on the situation.  Let’s say you are a sergeant, working a graveyard shift. There’s no lieutenant on duty and the police chief is home sleeping, knowing that his City is being protected by the finest supervisor he has on his shift that night--you.  It doesn’t matter that you are the only supervisor on duty that night-- you are the best one he has out there.  Think about it.  Who is in charge?  YOU.  If a major situation develops, who will handle it?  YOU.  If there are notifications to be made, who is going to make the decision to make those notifications?  YOU.  So, to my way of thinking, it stands to reason that you are the supervisor in charge, that is the chief of police, and that means you are management not just for this one night but throughout your supervisory career.  (Remember, we are talking about leadership positions not M.O.U. (Memorandum of Understanding issues or personnel job descriptions). That is what makes the position of supervisor so great because you are the main person in charge, and you can develop others who in turn will help develop the future of your department.

Now is the time to make that all important decision because, after all, it is your future we are talking about.


Should I stay or should I go?

Many times during my career, officers have approached me and asked whether they should stay in their current assignment where they are comfortable or leave it for a specialty assignment or promotion. As a matter of fact I have asked myself this question on numerous occasions.

Now the important part - there is no right or wrong answer to this question. I almost sound like a politician. 

But this is my reasoning: you have to make a decision that will affect your future and you have to be happy with the results. You and only you can make these decisions. Below, I hope to give you some guidelines that will assist you in this decision making process.

Many of you are content being life long patrol officers and that is ok as we need good seasoned officers who will remain productive. On the other side of the coin there are many of you who want the specialty assignments that are associated with law enforcement but this comes with a warning that these assignments may not always be what you expect and you have to understand this before you take the position. 

Many times when an officer is assigned to one of these positions they may feel this is what they always wanted and they will end their career in this assignment. That is not always the case. In my agency you kept the specialty assignment for approximately five years then rotated back into the patrol force with the expectation that you would be a more rounded officer and could share your acquired knowledge with your fellow officers. Be sure to investigate what rules and regulations your department has regarding these assignments. 

The good side to accepting these various positions is that it will greatly improve your knowledge within the department and law enforcement in general which will make you a more viable candidate for future promotions. These are some of the decisions I had to make. Should I stay in my detective position or try for advancement within the department. I always stated that if I could be Chief of Police and a detective at the same time, I would be in hog heaven. But I had to decide which way my career would travel and opted for advancement as I wanted the challenges associated with the supervisory positions and never looked back.

If you decide to go this route, lets take a few moments and discuss the possibilities of promotions within your agency. This is where you have to really sit down and think about the direction you want your career to travel. When you start up the supervisory ladder your responsibilities will change and you have to be willing to accept them. For example: as a patrol officer you are only responsible for your beat and the calls and reports you receive during your tour of duty. At the end of your watch you change out of your uniform and go home. As a supervisor your span of control increases and you are now responsible for everything that happens on your shift, all of the beats, the calls, reports and the officers and their actions. Then you have your paperwork on top of that, along with any projects given to you by your supervisors and when you go home you are still thinking about everything that occurred tonight and what will happen tomorrow and how to prepare for it.

If you are thinking of becoming a supervisor you must also decide if you are ready to give up the streets. This is really a tough decision because you will not be the star player anymore.

I have always related the supervisory positions to the various positions on a baseball field:

As an officer you were the star player and were involved in the day to day field activities such as making arrests, going to court and being involved in various assignments etc.

Then when you advance to Sergeant you are now on the sidelines as the base coach. You are still in the field but now you are the first line supervisor and have contact with all of the troops. You monitor all of the activities of your officers and help to develop them. You keep the pulse of the organization by having first hand information as to what your personnel are thinking and need as well as what the Administration is thinking and of their needs.

When you promote to Lieutenant this position is similar to the manager of the team who remains in the “dugout” off the field. You are in charge of everything that takes place “between the lines,” only you are not directly involved in how it is being accomplished.

The Captain or Division Commander is like the General Manager who is off the field and watching the game from his box. You are responsible for the officers and supervisors and must develop these individuals to perform as a unit and have the same philosophy as the Chief of Police.

Now you become the Chief of Police which is the owner of the baseball team. You are away from the day to day involvement in the field but are responsible for all the activities of the sworn and non sworn personnel who help run the department. You not only monitor everything but you are responsible for everything that occurs in the city.

The best reason for becoming a supervisor is that you will be a manager in your agency and be a vital player in the development of your subordinates and the department; this should be your prime motivational factor. If you let money be your only motivation for accepting advancement you will be doomed to failure because you do not have the proper reason for being a supervisor and will probably place a hardship on your. My personal feelings of why one would want to became  a supervisor are that you will face new challenges such as becoming a mentor, a confidant, a cheerleader, a disciplinarian and you will be able to help other personnel develop their breadth of knowledge in their chosen profession  and besides all of that - it’s fun!

I hope I have given you thoughts to ponder when it comes time for you to make some very interesting choices during your law enforcement career and you ask yourself the question:

Should I stay or should I go?