Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Some Inside Policing Baseball

 

There are times that you reflect on your experience as a police officer, and for that matter, in any path you chose to walk. I ran across some observations from another police officer on a police blog. I’ll add my own comments on what this officer wrote.

The people at the top often don’t have a lot of practical experience. There are exceptions, but most cops who become chiefs, sheriffs, or other high-ranking officers spend most of their career paving the path to promotion. They spend a brief time as working cops, then transfer to a non-enforcement job, where they stay until they get their first promotion. They never truly understand the job, and the cops they oversee don’t identify with the brass, or the brass with the cops.

There is some truth to this. I have listened to what I call the 3.5 admin cops at roll call. The 3.5 refers to the minimum amount of years you had to spend on the streets before you could start climbing the admin ladder. The exceptions would be those that sought positions as K-9 cops or detectives.

There are some admin cops that like the paycheck, and there are others that are cowards, but they like having the badge. They get off the street as fast as they can because they don’t want to clean up messes, unfortunately, they become Monday morning quarterbacks. They weren’t there when things went to hell, and they didn’t see what the line cop saw, but they see themselves as experts. They are specialist’s in CYA; Cover Your [redacted]. Like a Monday morning quarterback, they will throw a beat cop under the bus of public outrage. It should be a relief to the public, as well as to other police officers that admin cops are not out on the street.

There is lots of stress, but not the kind you might think. Most of the stress comes from the police station, not the street. Law enforcement agencies are extremely political. Who likes you or who you’re friends or relatives with has a lot more to do with the progress of your career than how good you are at your job. “Management by intimidation” is a common technique. From a human resources perspective, law enforcement agencies are horrible places to work.

There is some truth to this, but once you become part of the minimum staffing model you can display the impudent digit, at least metaphorically anyway.

There aren’t all that many bigots. There are some, of course – in a cohort of close to a million people, some of them will be biased. You can get fired for expressing those feelings, so they tend not to last long. Most cops don’t especially care what color you are, what religion you practice, what country your ancestors came from, how much money you have, or what your sexual orientation is. Cops see every kind of person, often at the worst moments of their lives. They know there are good and bad people in every category. They do have a strong bias against jerks, so don’t be one of those.

This last paragraph is true. When you work nights you cannot tell what color a driver is. What you do know is that the driver has run one stop sign, or in my case one driver that ran three stop signs, all within three blocks. I had no idea who, or what color he was.

I could care less what Rodney Balko or David French say about policing, or police officers. They have no idea what they are talking about, nor have they spent any time riding with a police officer, but somehow they are experts on policing.

Published in Policing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 34 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Django Member

    I don’t know a lot of police officers personally. The very few interactions I’ve had have been on, shall we say, a professional level — I should have been watching the speedometer more carefully — and, in that time I’ve encountered only one true jerk. The one I did know personally was called to help break up a brawl in a bar on First Street in Richmond, KY. He sustained some injuries and those involved in the brawl were out on bail before he left the hospital. He was not pleased at all. His superiors told him, “If you can’t take the heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen.” I hope he eventually found a better job.

    • #1
    • January 19, 2020, at 9:49 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt

    Django (View Comment):

    I don’t know a lot of police officers personally. The very few interactions I’ve had have been on, shall we say, a professional level — I should have been watching the speedometer more carefully — and, in that time I’ve encountered only one true jerk. The one I did know personally was called to help break up a brawl in a bar on First Street in Richmond, KY. He sustained some injuries and those involved in the brawl were out on bail before he left the hospital. He was not pleased at all. His superiors told him, “If you can’t take the heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen.” I hope he eventually found a better job.

    Yep, if you wan’t to be loved become a firefighter, everyone loves firefighters.

     

    • #2
    • January 19, 2020, at 9:51 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. Hoyacon Member

    I know fiction has its limits in terms of “real” police work, but I was struck by how much the first observation echoes themes throughout Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series of books.

    • #3
    • January 19, 2020, at 9:58 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  4. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I know fiction has its limits in terms of “real” police work, but I was struck by how much the first observation echoes themes throughout Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series of books.

    Michael Connelly was an LA Times crime reporter, and he developed a pretty good reputation with LAPD officer’s. In the Bosch series on Amazon Prime the tension between Admin cops, Bosch, and uniformed cops at the precinct level is portrayed fairly well.

    • #4
    • January 19, 2020, at 10:02 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  5. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Los Angeles’s own Jack Dunphy (a pseudonym) once wrote that once a cop left the street, he tended to become an administrator–that is, a civil servant–or work in an anti-drug program–in other words, become part of the educational system–or be an official of the police union–that is, a labor leader. 

    A civil servant, an educator, or a labor leader; in short, a Democrat. 

    • #5
    • January 19, 2020, at 11:25 PM PST
    • 14 likes
  6. Mark Camp Member

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    Yep, if you wan’t to be loved become a firefighter, everyone loves firefighters.

    Doug,

    We’ll talk about this at the next meeting.

    Mark Camp,
    President
    Apostrophists Anonymous

    • #6
    • January 20, 2020, at 5:27 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  7. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Yep, if you wan’t to be loved become a firefighter, everyone loves firefighters.

    Well, of course.

    I seriously can’t say enough good things about the LEO’s we work with. We deal with rotten people a small percent of the time (mostly with medical calls) but street officers deal with bad actors so much of the time that it has to be tough. And we call LEO’s blue canaries because they go in and test the waters when there is even a hint of danger, while we wait in the nice warm truck at the staging area.

     

     

    • #7
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:24 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  8. Full Size Tabby Member

    If it’s any comfort, the tendency of those who end up at the [administrative] top to leave the front lines fairly quickly is widespread. It’s not just a police thing. My son sees it in the military (where he is), and I have seen lots of it in large corporations. 

    • #8
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:25 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  9. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I was working an event a few years and the network hired an off-duty LAPD officer to run security. He was a Marine, saw the hat I wear most days to honor my son and we became dinner companions for the rest of the week. 

    At one pregame meal he set his phone down on the table and the lock screen had a countdown running on it and I asked him about it. “That’s how long until retirement. I hardly know anyone on the force who doesn’t have one of these on his phone.”

    • #9
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:47 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  10. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    Doug Watt: Cops see every kind of person, often at the worst moments of their lives. They know there are good and bad people in every category. They do have a strong bias against jerks, so don’t be one of those.

    If I was cop, I would have a bias against young males alone or in groups. They do dumb, risky stuff. I would also like to be a K-9 cop, just to help run down those dumb young males.

    • #10
    • January 20, 2020, at 7:32 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  11. Arahant Member

    My dad pulled a lot of administrative time, but that was because he was the troubleshooter. If they had trouble with training, he was sent in to fix training. If they had trouble with radio dispatch, he was sent in to fix radio dispatch. But if they had trouble on the street, he was sent in to fix that, too. He spent a lot of years on the street.

    Likewise, my brother has certainly seen administrative positions. But he has been out there for thirty-five years, and many of those years were on the streets. He was also a detective in a drug enforcement group for his county and a detective investigating crimes like identity theft. He had some administrative positions in there, too, but he knows what the street cop is going through.

    • #11
    • January 20, 2020, at 8:15 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  12. GrannyDude Member

    Best job in law enforcement:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=JniiqGh-Pfw&feature=emb_logo

     

     

    • #12
    • January 20, 2020, at 8:19 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  13. Arahant Member

    EJHill (View Comment):
    At one pregame meal he set his phone down on the table and the lock screen had a countdown running on it and I asked him about it. “That’s how long until retirement. I hardly know anyone on the force who doesn’t have one of these on his phone.”

    My dad counted down the days until he qualified for retirement for about two or three years. Not sure if he started at 1,000, or some lower number. Of course, he worked about five years past that, but that was another matter.

    • #13
    • January 20, 2020, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  14. danok1 Member

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Best job in law enforcement:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=JniiqGh-Pfw&feature=emb_logo

     

    One of the Staff Sergeants on my LE flight at Loring was from Maine. His goal after military retirement: Maine Game Warden.

    • #14
    • January 20, 2020, at 9:08 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  15. GrannyDude Member

    danok1 (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Best job in law enforcement:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=JniiqGh-Pfw&feature=emb_logo

     

    One of the Staff Sergeants on my LE flight at Loring was from Maine. His goal after military retirement: Maine Game Warden.

    Did he pull it off? 

    • #15
    • January 20, 2020, at 2:58 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    So what you are saying is that the job of the cop is the same as every other job. I would say that most of what you wrote above applies to every job I’ve ever had.

    • #16
    • January 20, 2020, at 3:29 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  17. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt

    Spin (View Comment):

    So what you are saying is that the job of the cop is the same as every other job. I would say that most of what you wrote above applies to every job I’ve ever had.

    There is one distinction that’s a bit different, as a police officer some of your client’s will try to kill you if they get the chance to do so.

     

    • #17
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:07 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. Arahant Member

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    So what you are saying is that the job of the cop is the same as every other job. I would say that most of what you wrote above applies to every job I’ve ever had.

    There is one distinction that’s a bit different, as a police officer some of your client’s will try to kill you if they get the chance to do so.

    @spin has a point. Try being in IT when someone has a deliverable due and their computer goes down or does an update, etc.

    • #18
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:39 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  19. danok1 Member

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    danok1 (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Best job in law enforcement:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=JniiqGh-Pfw&feature=emb_logo

     

    One of the Staff Sergeants on my LE flight at Loring was from Maine. His goal after military retirement: Maine Game Warden.

    Did he pull it off?

    I don’t know. I left well Loring before he did and lost touch. I really hope he did.

    • #19
    • January 20, 2020, at 6:52 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    So what you are saying is that the job of the cop is the same as every other job. I would say that most of what you wrote above applies to every job I’ve ever had.

    There is one distinction that’s a bit different, as a police officer some of your client’s will try to kill you if they get the chance to do so.

    @spin has a point. Try being in IT when someone has a deliverable due and their computer goes down or does an update, etc.

    Nobody is shooting at you, though. Unless your job is in support of brokers on the CBOE, that is.

    • #20
    • January 20, 2020, at 7:12 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Django Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    So what you are saying is that the job of the cop is the same as every other job. I would say that most of what you wrote above applies to every job I’ve ever had.

    There is one distinction that’s a bit different, as a police officer some of your client’s will try to kill you if they get the chance to do so.

    @spin has a point. Try being in IT when someone has a deliverable due and their computer goes down or does an update, etc.

    Nobody is shooting at you, though. Unless your job is in support of brokers on the CBOE, that is.

    Correct. Instead of killing you, they just kill your career. 

    • #21
    • January 20, 2020, at 7:16 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    So what you are saying is that the job of the cop is the same as every other job. I would say that most of what you wrote above applies to every job I’ve ever had.

    There is one distinction that’s a bit different, as a police officer some of your client’s will try to kill you if they get the chance to do so.

    Yes but it doesn’t seem as if anyone’s complaining about that!

     

    • #22
    • January 20, 2020, at 7:28 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  23. Arahant Member

    Percival (View Comment):
    Nobody is shooting at you, though. Unless your job is in support of brokers on the CBOE, that is.

    I must have worked in some rough neighborhoods.

    • #23
    • January 20, 2020, at 7:58 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Mark Camp Member

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    …some of your client’s…

    Doug,

    Now I think you are just teasing us.

    Mark Camp
    President
    Apostrophists Anonymous.

    • #24
    • January 21, 2020, at 7:03 AM PST
    • 1 like
  25. GrannyDude Member

    For those who love to do it—serve and protect—police work is better than other jobs. More interesting, more varied, more meaningful and satisfying. There are dozens of human beings walking around my state who are alive because a police officer was willing to risk himself to save another. That’s pretty freaking meaningful.

    Police work has inherent difficulties and dangers. There are the obvious ones—someone might actively try to kill you, of course, and you’re spending a lot of time in and around motor vehicles, which are dangerous things even when operated by the non-violent, un-inebriated, reasonably-capable person. Even in a small and peaceful town, police officers see heartbreaking, horrifying or appalling things. They are expected to remain emotionally stoic as well as compassionate and courageous, and the public only takes notice when they fail to do so. 

    A police officer is required, as a condition of his work, to maintain a level of neurophysiological arousal—in essence, to be a little bit adrenalized—all the time. His routine can chug along uneventfully for hours, days, even weeks without the adrenaline actually being required. Then, suddenly, it is. This combination is very hard on the body, with deleterious effects on the cardiovascular and endocrine systems. It can also wreak havoc on the structures in the brain responsible for mediating, interpreting and inaugurating the body’s response to stress—structures that, for obvious reasons, need to be functioning so the officer can. Oh, and shift work (not to mention the effects of all that adrenaline) mean that sleep disorders are extremely common in law enforcement, with poor sleep being strongly correlated with…cardiovascular, endocrine and neurological disorders! Yay! 

    Since police officers self-select and are (ideally) selected and tested for their ability to manage stress, most police officers handle all of this astonishingly well, which is a lucky thing given that these are, for the most part, not elements that can be changed, even with the best will in the world. 

    There are things about police work that can be changed—within the agency and without. Good training helps. Good leadership makes an enormous difference. Critical incident peer support teams and chaplain programs can help mitigate the stress (a long explanation for how and why available upon request). A political establishment that takes its responsibility for protecting lives and property seriously, and supports good law enforcement is great, particularly when this is reflective of and responsive to a citizenry that (mostly) understands and supports its first responders. Or at least refrains from calling them racist murders.

    I gave a presentation not long ago to a bunch of hospital administrators. I was asked to talk about my life and work, so I did. Afterward, apparently, one or two (out of the hundred+) told the organizers that they were offended because I talked (approvingly and affectionately, of course) about law enforcement officers. They thought I should’ve been more sensitive because there were people of color in the crowd. 

    If they ask me back to speak again, I’ll talk instead about all the horrible experiences I’ve had in hospitals, and discuss the frightening number of people (disporportionately POCs) who are killed by medical and hospital errors.

     

     

    • #25
    • January 21, 2020, at 7:15 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  26. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Some of my deputy friends got mileage out of this:

    • #26
    • January 21, 2020, at 7:26 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  27. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    If it’s any comfort, the tendency of those who end up at the [administrative] top to leave the front lines fairly quickly is widespread. It’s not just a police thing. My son sees it in the military (where he is), and I have seen lots of it in large corporations.

    It’s the Dilbert Principle:

    Generally speaking, incompetent workers will be promoted above competent workers to managerial positions, thus removing them from the actual work and minimizing the damage they can do.

    • #27
    • January 21, 2020, at 7:30 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    If it’s any comfort, the tendency of those who end up at the [administrative] top to leave the front lines fairly quickly is widespread. It’s not just a police thing. My son sees it in the military (where he is), and I have seen lots of it in large corporations.

    It’s the Dilbert Principle:

    Generally speaking, incompetent workers will be promoted above competent workers to managerial positions, thus removing them from the actual work and minimizing the damage they can do.

    I was once in a meeting with my buddy (both junior captains) given by a newly minted LtCol. My buddy leaned over and quietly said “I thought that guy was the Peter Principle when they made him a major”.

    • #28
    • January 21, 2020, at 7:38 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    If it’s any comfort, the tendency of those who end up at the [administrative] top to leave the front lines fairly quickly is widespread. It’s not just a police thing. My son sees it in the military (where he is), and I have seen lots of it in large corporations.

    It’s the Dilbert Principle:

    Generally speaking, incompetent workers will be promoted above competent workers to managerial positions, thus removing them from the actual work and minimizing the damage they can do.

    This is sometimes the case. 

    In a lot of cases, however, the person is promoted to management because they are the ones who take responsibility. And though they may not be the most skilled at specific tasks, they understand how to get things done, they don’t freak out when things don’t go according to plan, they are easy to get along with. 

    The people who don’t get promoted like the Dilbert Principle, because it helps them assuage their disappointment at not having been promoted.

    I can think of a number of folks I know who were not promoted, said “I don’t want to be a manager anyway, don’t want to deal with the BS!”, then criticize every decision the manager makes on the grounds that they would have done it differently.

    Meanwhile, every manager I know, with rare exception, loses sleep at night fretting about the fact that every meeting they attend, every spreadsheet they review, takes them one step further away from the job. They are held responsible for getting things done, have almost no time to actually get the things done, and get nothing but grief from both ends of the stick.

    Ok…I realize this has turned in to a rant. So I’ll shut up.

    • #29
    • January 21, 2020, at 10:41 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  30. Django Member

    Spin (View Comment):

    Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    If it’s any comfort, the tendency of those who end up at the [administrative] top to leave the front lines fairly quickly is widespread. It’s not just a police thing. My son sees it in the military (where he is), and I have seen lots of it in large corporations.

    It’s the Dilbert Principle:

    Generally speaking, incompetent workers will be promoted above competent workers to managerial positions, thus removing them from the actual work and minimizing the damage they can do.

    This is sometimes the case.

    In a lot of cases, however, the person is promoted to management because they are the ones who take responsibility. And though they may not be the most skilled at specific tasks, they understand how to get things done, they don’t freak out when things don’t go according to plan, they are easy to get along with.

    The people who don’t get promoted like the Dilbert Principle, because it helps them assuage their disappointment at not having been promoted.

    I can think of a number of folks I know who were not promoted, said “I don’t want to be a manager anyway, don’t want to deal with the BS!”, then criticize every decision the manager makes on the grounds that they would have done it differently.

    Meanwhile, every manager I know, with rare exception, loses sleep at night fretting about the fact that every meeting they attend, every spreadsheet they review, takes them one step further away from the job. They are held responsible for getting things done, have almost no time to actually get the things done, and get nothing but grief from both ends of the stick.

    Ok…I realize this has turned in to a rant. So I’ll shut up.

    You weren’t ranting. I had a brief stint as a “technical manager” and dealt with those who wanted it done differently every time something was to be done. I dealt with it the same way every time. It’s my decision because I am the one to take the heat if the decision is wrong. Tell me and convince me why it should be done your way. I’ll listen, but it’s my decision. If you aren’t on board with that, find employment elsewhere or volunteer to take the heat for me. Your choice. 

    • #30
    • January 21, 2020, at 10:58 AM PST
    • 5 likes