Tanya here — Nice blog title today huh?
When I first started as a patrol officer I was working with a great shift. It was one of the sergeant’s on my shift that I want to talk about today.
I won’t name him out of respect for his privacy. He is not that much older than me but had been on the job about 6 or 7 years when I was hired. He was smart – REALLY smart. And dedicated. Not just to police work but to his crew. He would actually look for information on the newest case laws and would research things that were effected the world of law enforcement. He was physically dedicated and trained himself to be prepared for the worst. He was professional yet fun.
My shift consisted of a group of brand new officers. We were green and eager. Like most rookies – we were what my dispatcher calls “skippy”. The kind of officer that is super excited to even go on a lockout because he is driving a police car and looking bad-ass doing it. One that will jump to take a call for another officer just to go on a call. Skippy. Skipping off to a call, traffic stop, arrest… etc. You get the picture.
So this nameless sergeant actually took the time to ask each of us before our evaluations what we thought we might want to do in police work. What was our forte or desire? Where would we want to be in 5 years – in 10? What a smart thing to do.. He created police officers who learned to love their work.
I am not a big traffic enforcer. I hold no notions or desires of riding a motorcycle and writing 100 tickets a month. Although – I would like the uniform if the boots had better style 🙂 I am even known at court as someone who rarely writes a citation for traffic – so if they see one they know someone either really pissed me off/nearly ran me over. I do however, have no problems writing general offense cites or arresting someone. Ever.
When I met with my sergeant for evals he never asked me if I wanted to be a traffic girl. He knew better. He actually pulled stats to see how many reports I had written and arrests made as well as time spent in pro-active community policing to offset my lack of citations. He was looking out for me. When he asked my interests, I was honest. I said I like forensics.
Fast forward a few years, and I became a master evidence technician. That includes over 400 hours of schooling in various forensic “stuff” and I am a qualified expert witness in most of those areas. I specialize in photography and can shoot the hell out of a scene without any light and never use a flash.. I TEACH classes in those areas (and others) to other police officers. I actually love the teaching part. I appreciate the fact that sergeant made me think, work hard and earn respect.
He was also a sergeant you did not want to make angry. Although he rarely yelled at his crew – you did not want to disappoint him. It upset me to think I did. I think my crew looks at me the same way now. I think that is good. It makes you want to work harder. It helps make you loyal. I had other good sergeants, some not so good. But these memories – the ones created on this shift – helped shaped me as a LEO.
My point here is two fold.. One – as a supervisor you have a great responsibility. Not just to the public, but to your crew. You can make officers who want to grow and progress. Or you can make them hate the job. and Two – you can make your crew’s memories with some small gesture.. a pajama and slippers day even. You do not have to be hard-ass at all times. Laughter is a blessing. That is where pajama and slipper day comes in.
This sergeant knew he had to take officers who were all skippy and focus them. He knew that working in a suburb is not always the busiest and he kept us busy. Years later I can honestly say there are very few non-busy days anymore. But back then – One week we had pajama and slipper day. Pajama and slipper day was a day we all brought in robes and coffee cups and took a picture of us with them on over our uniforms right after roll call. Sounds silly – but it made the week go by so much faster. It was funny and I still have my pictures hanging in my locker. It reminds me that I enjoyed things here once even if on the day I am looking at it — I do not. It reminds me today will be better and I can be a better boss, a better cop and a better person.
And for the love of all things sacred — “Wednesday is Pajama and Slipper Day” sounds sooo much better than “Huummmp DAY!”