Questions For The Chief

Oftentimes when I was speaking before a class regarding the chief's expectations from their supervisors, I was asked to complete a questionnaire called "Questions for the Chief." These questions are geared towards a sergeant position, but I have used many of them in all ranks during the chief's interview phase. They are to be used as something to think about when you are doing your research for your promotional process.

Remember, these are my answers, but I firmly believe that many other chiefs share the same view.

  1. Name three qualities/traits you desire in a sergeant?
  • Honesty/integrity.
  • Professionalism/Loyalty.
  • A sense of humor.
  • Name three things you demand in a sergeant?
    • Set the Example.
    • Be Accountable.
    • Be Positive.
  • When you were a sergeant, what was the one thing you would have done differently?
    • I would have taken more time to know my personnel.
  • What negatives do sergeants do that they should not do? How do sergeants fail probation?
    • Sergeants, on probation, run into problems when they are afraid to act or overreact. That is, they don't know how to act like a sergeant.
  • What is the best way for a candidate to stand out from other equally qualified competition in an oral?
    • Be yourself.
    • Pat yourself on the back.
    • Don't put others down.
    • Demonstrate your knowledge and common sense.
  • What are your expectations in a sergeant? Agency expectations?
    • To lead.
    • Monitor activities of his personnel.
    • Cheerlead.
    • Discipline.
    • CARE.
  • What is your management style?
    • Situational.
  • What obstacles do you see facing law enforcement currently? In the future?
    • Retention of qualified personnel.
    • Hiring of qualified personnel.
    • Older community; elderly victims; run-down cities.
    • High tech crimes -- must train our officers in a different way to fight these crimes.
  • Should education be important to a sergeant? Degrees?
    • Education is extremely important to all officers no matter what their rank.
    • Bachelor's degrees are becoming as plentiful as Associate's degrees. A Master's degree is becoming necessary for future advancement.
  • What assignments would you like to see an officer have in their background at time of promotion?
    • It's not so much how many assignments the officer has had. It really depends on how well he performed while in these assignments
  • What personality traits do you look for in a sergeant?
    • Positive attitude.
    • Insight into his personnel.
    • Good sixth sense.
    • Not afraid to try different approaches.
  • What personality traits do you look to avoid in selecting a sergeant?
    • Officers who are negative,
    • Always state, "I can't do it."
    • Complain about doing what they are paid to do.
    • Always trying to get out of work, especially near the end of their shift.
  • Do you prefer an assessment center or straight a oral board presentation for sergeant?
    • I prefer a straight oral board approach for all of my promotions.
  • Is dress important for the interview? Your recommendations?
    • Dress is very important. It is the first impression you make on the raters.
    • Keep it business attire and professional looking.
    • Class A uniform is appropriate as long as it is in good condition and all of your rank, patches, and various insignias are properly sewn onto the uniform.
  • How has the role of sergeant changed over the last ten years, and how do you see it changing over the next ten years?
    • Today we deal with a multitude of personalities and lifestyles in the department.
    • Many officers have little or no life experiences and still live with their parents.
    • Administrators must explain themselves more as to why certain things are done in certain ways.
    • More laws to know.
    • Police Officers' Bill of Rights.
    • Liability issues.
    • We now have a higher caliber of officer. Any officer of rank must stay up with them or the officers will lose respect for him or her.
  • How can I best prepare for this position?
    • Mock orals.
    • Videotape yourself during these mock orals.
    • Research and study.
    • Use leadership tapes.
    • Think of the sergeant you enjoyed working with and use some of their techniques when dealing with personnel and citizens.
  • How important are opening and closing statements?
    • Very important, if they are allowed.
    • Don't memorize them verbatim, but be sure you remember all of the points you want to make; How you express these ideas will be spontaneous and fresh each time you say them. Make them "yours."
    • Demonstrate preparation.
  • COP and POP--is there a difference?
    • Community Oriented Policing and Problem Oriented Policing are two recent buzz-words, but to me they are basically the same with the same goal.
    • They provide a service where you solve all types of problems, whether civil or criminal.
    • They must be a part of the department philosophy.
    • We were doing it long before someone gave it a name. It was called "good old-fashioned police work," or helping the community live together in a safe, quiet environment.
    • If there was a problem, no matter what it was, we took care of it or helped the citizen find a remedy so it wouldn't become a criminal matter.
  • Some agencies have sergeants closer to the line officers. Others have the sergeant closer to management. Where do you see the sergeants?
    • The question should be, "How does the candidate see himself or herself in the role of a sergeant?"
    • I feel all of my supervisors are management.
    • I would hope the sergeant would see himself as one step below a lieutenant rather than one step above a patrolman. He is not "one of the guys" anymore.
    • This also applies for the ranks of lieutenant and captain.
  • Mission statements: are they important? How should sergeants implement them? Why?
    • Yes they are important; Mission statements are the philosophy of the department.
    • Unfortunately, many candidates do not know the basis of the mission statement.
    • The sergeant is most involved with the "troops" and should know the premise of the mission statement so that he and his command can be on the same page when it comes to understanding the department's goals.
    • The sergeants must discuss the statement with their personnel at roll call or department training classes.
    • It should be posted around the station so all personnel, both sworn and non-sworn, are aware of its contents.
    • You don't have to memorize it; just know what it stands for, and how it relates to the department and the citizens you protect.
    • I asked all candidates to explain the mission statement, whether they were involved in a promotional process or trying for a specialty assignment.

    Hopefully, this gives you some idea of what many police chiefs are looking for in their future supervisors.

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