Will You Be On The Top or Bottom?

Your entire career will be a test of your professionalism and values. Will you end it on the top or on the bottom?

Case Study #5
A directive is announced at roll call: if anyone books a prisoner who has been arrested on a drug charge and money is found in the prisoner's possession, it is NOT to be recorded on the personal property form. Explanation: it will be forfeited as drug money and therefore, should not be included as personal property.

Instead: put the money in an envelope and slide the envelope under the chief's door. Mark the case number and date on the outside of the envelope.

Subsequently, when putting such a prisoner through the booking process, his money was taken from him. The prisoner loudly complained that the cash would never be returned. The complaint was dismissed by the officer doing the booking. After all, someone who has just been arrested cannot be expected to make truthful statements, right?

Finally, the officer witnesses the chief directing a staff member to go out and buy a new computer for his office at a local store. The chief then pulls a roll of $100 bills from his pocket and counts out enough cash to easily make the purchase. Later, the head of the detective unit objects to having his people use a credit card to purchase fuel. He is heard to say that, "Handling credit card receipts is too much paperwork. It is a lot easier to use drug forfeiture money to buy gas."

It would ultimately be found that nearly $500,000 in forfeiture money had disappeared. It took nearly a year to uncover the missing cash. Yet, many of the cops had witnessed the chief flashing huge sums of cash.

This actually happened. How would you handle it?

Case Study #6
It is a fledgling department. However, it holds great promise. It is part of a growing, thriving community that is expected to soar in population to be one of the largest in the state. In its infancy, the community hires a new chief of police. He will be the savior, arriving to the fanfare of the local media.

The officers will quickly learn that his most important priority is to improve his own image. He has an ego the size of Alaska. He is a bully. Cops who reject his demand for unquestioned allegiance will soon find themselves the subject of an IA investigation, or they will be assigned to the property room or made so miserable that they will find work elsewhere.

This chief is front-and-center anytime there is a camera present. He wants credit for all of the positive, glitzy and glamorous accomplishments of the agency, while distancing himself from anything negative. The new chief will claim all good deeds as his own. When he isn't polishing the plaques on his office wall, he will be found glad-handing the media or holding court with the elected officials. They too have become mesmerized.

He will work very hard to prevent anyone from learning that he was once asked to leave an instructor's position at a local training center because of reported inappropriate sexual contact with a student. He will deny the repeated claims that he makes promotional decisions for his female officers based largely upon their willingness to submit to his advances in the privacy of his office. He will denounce citizen complaints claiming that he used unscrupulous (but willing) officers to shape the political landscape of the community to his liking.

He has been quoted, "My most important asset is my public image. I will go to any lengths to protect and enhance it."

You are a newly-minted female officer looking for employment. You have been given the lay of the land, so you know what lies ahead if you take the job offer made by this chief.

This actually happened. How would you handle it?

Ethically Bankrupt Role Models

Young officers are exposed to the senior cops once they are on the job. The lofty platitudes of academy ethics training gives way to reality. The rookies are sure that some of their co-workers are most certainly on the path to Hell.

As officers, we often hide our disapproval of another with humor, laughter or silence. We look the other way, rather than expressing our disapproval. After all, showing disdain for the words or deeds of a senior officer is considered a sure sign of disloyalty by many. The more years of service the wayward cop has under his belt, the more likely he is to get a pass for bad behavior.

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to Officer.com. To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.