Chaplain: Empathic Policemen

When it comes time for a promotion I can guarantee you the department supervisors are not just looking for someone who writes a lot of tickets.


So what does the 80/20 Principal have to do with empathy? If we as officers believe everyone is a jerk and out to get us and society in general then no one gets a break. We may treat everyone heavy handed. Maybe - just maybe - the guy is having a bad day. Perhaps he or she is not one of the 20% that may really be the lower side of society.

When we treat every violator as if they are just trying to get away with something; if we treat every complainant as if they are wasting our time when real crime is happening all around us; if we treat people as if they have something to hide, then we as officers are the real losers. We have lost our trust of the public but worse yet, we individually have lost the public trust.

I don't want to open the can of worms in relation to profiling. Heaven knows we have heard enough about that in the news. But let me ask this question: Do you as an officer ever profile because of attitude? Failing to take into account the person may simply just be having a bad day; a day like you had yesterday or the day before.

I go back to the basic thought of this article: Can an Officer be Empathic and Still Do the Job? I think we can.

It's pretty simple. It's called the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Let's try practicing a little empathy. Why not become students of human nature?

When it comes time for a promotion I can guarantee you the department supervisors are not just looking for someone who writes a lot of tickets. Most are ever mindful that the age old motto for police has two parts: To (1) Protect and (2) Serve. When we get out of balance and the protecting overshadows the serving maybe we need to rethink if we are in the right profession.



  • 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.