There's no Manual for this!

Most best practices for running a department include topics, such as training, technology, team-work, ethics, community relations and communication. How would these items look applied to a relationship, especially one in which one of the parties is a...

This concept is huge in making a department run smoothly. Executive leaders must work well with middle-managers who must work well with line officers. Each of those must also work well with support staff, including dispatch and records. Patrol officers must especially have a sense of team-work if they are to feel safe on the street. If you can't trust your partner, who can you trust? An officer must be able to feel his or her back-up can get the job done. If not... In a relationship, team-work is also a must especially in one where the law enforcement lifestyle is constantly spitting up something annoying. Stone explains it best, "As in any relationship, the parties must work hard to maintain a sense of balance, but in a police relationship where there are added stresses, there must be very much a 'team' effort. Through trust, understanding, determination and love, the entire family will reap the rewards of a very challenging and exciting lifestyle." Love it or hate it, you're in it together. You might as well put your backs together and take it on with locked arms. It's more fun that way.


A buzz-word found in almost any police management conference, seminar and/or article, ethics is an important part of running an efficient, respected department. I love how Stone describes one part of the law enforcement identity, the uniform, and what it represents. Law enforcement is "an old institution with a solid and reliable foundation that can be trusted, one that has been a part of our history for centuries." Because of this tenured identity, law enforcement brings with it the need for a high degree of ethical conduct. One of the things I remember most about my training was when my trainer said to us, "Don't do anything that won't pass the headline test." Basically, that meant we should refrain from doing anything we didn't want to see as the negative headline in tomorrow's paper. It should be the same way in a relationship. Each party should conduct themselves in a way that shows respect for themselves, their partner and their relationship. If you wouldn't want to see your conduct in print, you probably shouldn't do it. I bet Tiger Woods would agree.

Community Relations

Whether a department calls it community-based policing, community-oriented policing or nothing at all because they've been doing it since their inception, working closely with the community is a large part of law enforcement. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention. Officers have discovered they can do their jobs more efficiently when they work with the businesses and community members involved in their area. Each offers a unique perspective and special skills, knowledge and resources to help combat those who want to harm others. By working together, the police department joins a strong coalition. It can be the same way in a relationship. Stone and Kirschman both encourage police couples to maintain relationships with friends and family, especially those outside the law enforcement community. Each discourages isolation and hanging out only within the blue wall. By keeping relationships strong with others, police families continue to be a part of the whole community and get the benefit of a broad variety of opinion and experience. It can also help you keep from getting too jaded.


The lines of communication need to flow from the bottom to the top and back up. When my department got their new radio system it was a thrill to realize the officers could now hear each other as well as us. Working a scene became so much more efficient. In a relationship, communication is key. Without it, everything becomes muddled and few needs are met. It's like a crazy pursuit where no one can hear each other and no one knows what anyone else is doing. Try putting a new system of communication in your home and see how the clarity helps dissolve resentments and misunderstandings.

Although there is no perfect model for running a police department and each agency is different, there are certain areas which are recognized as important elements. These elements also exist in a relationship. It would be interesting to take an entire textbook of police management and correlate it to police relationships. I could definitely see chapters on scheduling, funding, time management, equipment, physical fitness... It could go on and on. Happy management.

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