I ran into a supervisor where I worked. He seemed OK, although he often talked smack about other officers, I really didn't pay much attention. I only worked part-time. Said supervisor showed little interest or concern with me.
That changed. He learned that I was president of a company that wrote grants for agencies and had gotten previous awards of many millions of dollars. Our company consulted with departments to design and implement computer systems for patrol officers. I was a professional LE trainer and also an adjunct instructor in an area academy.
Suddenly, he took issue with me constantly. He incessantly micro managed, second guessed, and picked at me. He would repeatedly bring inane (and false) charges against me only to have them later dismissed as being unfounded. This went on for what seemed like an eternity.
I subsequently learned that this supervisor had left a lot of broken concrete in his career path. The supervisor was a consummate kiss-up whenever he wanted something. Otherwise, he had no use for most people and let them know it, in no uncertain terms.
These two are examples of the dark underbelly of law enforcement. We try to ignore it. We try to pretend that it is not there. We want it to go away. But, we can unwittingly play into it. Worse, we can unintentionally become part of the problem - if we are not careful.
SO, HOW DO I SPOT A SNAKE HIDING IN THE WEEDS?
OK, so I tend to analyze everything to death. This issue is no exception. There are some traits and behaviors that seem to be common to buttheads (that's the technical term) like the two I have described above. Beware of cops who match-up to this list:
- Observe how a person talks of a subordinate or peer that has little/no effect on the speaker or his career. Are those lesser people treated like dirt?
- Observe how an officer treats people on the street. Is everyone not in uniform a jerk who should be demeaned and bear the brunt of the cop's lack of simple courtesy?
- Does the officer's sense of right and wrong change with the situation?
- Does the officer experience moments of rage and lose his temper when he judges that someone else has caused him trouble?
- Is there evidence to show that he carries a grudge? Some folks make grudge carrying into an art form.
- Is he known to retaliate for every transgression against him, no matter how long he must lie in wait to get his revenge? Forgiveness just isn't in his repertoire. Being vindictive is his trademark.
- He will be very kind, affirming and understanding with anyone who has something he wants.
- People who must work with this person at close range tend to be strong willed and thick skinned.
- This person is disliked by most and trusted by very, very few.
- Finally, this person is known to make unending efforts to vigorously crush, discredit and destroy the career or life of anyone who crosses him.
In my opinion, cops who fit this description are in the wrong career. They are only really happy when they are getting their ego stroked. They are the lowest of the low.
They feel terribly threatened by folks who are smarter, better connected or who are better skilled at police work than they are. They seek to elevate themselves only by diminishing others. The thought of self-improvement rarely (if ever) crosses their tiny minds.
COULD I BE FALLING INTO THAT TRAP?
Dr. Kevin Gilmartin said this in his book, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement: "Nobody, but nobody, will escape from a police career with their professional virginity intact. Everyone gets screwed by the agency (or a fellow cop) at least one time."
Those are wise words coming from a man of great wisdom. For the new and naïve: it will happen to you.
Cops can engage in a feeding-frenzy on rumors, gossip and half-truths from within the walls of their own agency. Are you one who actively participates, spreading this stuff around? Or, maybe you are only passively participating - listening attentively, but passing it no further. Even so, you provide tacit approval simply because you don't walk away.