In 2009 we had the opportunity to meet and spend some time with a lot of great people working in law enforcement. From the water patrol folks we met near New Jersey; to the northwestern agency we met in Denver; to the welcoming members of the Honolulu Police Department; Concordia University police, neighboring SWAT agents; and the generous instructors at the Milwaukee Public Safety Academy, the Law Enforcement Technology editors have had the opportunity to knock on many doors and delve into policing issues that are near and dear to management and staff's hearts.
Here are a few things we've gathered collectively from those conversations, coffee sessions (and choir practices) that we wanted to share with all of our readers:
Everybody's doing more with less. Less money, less time to devote to responsibilities and yet police are meeting their missions to the best of their abilities on all regional fronts. It's something managers do not want to admit to administrative supervision, and multiple folks say, unofficially, that they are not able to do the entirely best job they could ... but given today's challenges managers are keeping pace at their utmost efforts.
Everyone is still optimistic. Despite the somber economy day-to-day morale remains on the up and up, despite rumored or true staff reductions and the general negative air surrounding keeping the agency afloat.
The difference between a staff perceiving future cuts and a staff that's intact? Not much. Whether or not they hear rumors or an administrative info leak, officers believing their jobs are in peril are just as troubled whether the threat is real or only perceived. This means management should take the time to sidestep the rumor mill and let personnel know that things aren't great, but no one is on the chopping block and operations should continue per normal. If there is some turmoil and cuts are looking like a reality, consider whether it's better for the health of your officers' mindset to know, or if the lingering doubt is preferred until a layoff happens.
Less resources to run an agency doesn't mean less work for officers. Crimes and calls are not dwindling in ratio to operations monies, thus more creative efforts must be put into how to more efficiently respond to each community's policing needs, especially if your team is a few members short at this New Year's beginning.