Frank Borelli

"Rumor control isn't" is one of the first things I was told when I became a police officer. What I couldn't understand was, WHY NOT? In a business where we arrest people - we take their freedom from them - based on a collection of facts that compiled comprise the commission of a crime. How come we can't have that same fact-gathering and decision-making outlook toward the parts of our lives that aren't law enforcement? No, rumor control isn't controlled in any way. The old line about "If you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all" seems to be lost at times... most of the time in fact. Sure, there are officers out there that I don't care for much. They don't care for me much either. We all know cops that we don't believe should be in the business for one reason or another. What seems to get lost in the personal feelings we have for those folks is that none of us is perfect. All around our country there are agencies hiring cops from the current pool of available applicants. There are probably some things in some of those applicants' backgrounds that veteran officers of twenty years might find unacceptable for a police officer. While that veteran officer feels the applicant should be disqualified, the administrator / chief faced with staffing his agency feels pressed to make some concessions. Is he right or wrong? I think the bigger questions is, Who are we to judge him? Where we start to get ourselves into trouble is when we start "airing our dirty laundry" in a public venue. In this case, a public venue is anything not behind closed doors - even talking with another officer on patrol. Everything that comes out of our mouth, no matter how secure we feel that it will be kept confidential, will be repeated somewhere somehow. More than likely it won't be repeated exactly the way we said it, so all of a sudden what we're held responsible for saying isn't even what we said. Has that ever happened to you? I'm sure it has - at least to some of you reading this. Someone walks up to you and says, "Hey! I heard you said blah blah blah." That person is upset by what you said. But what (s)he quotes you as having said isn't even what you said - although it's somewhere close. So there you stand potentially having to explain that what they heard wasn't what you said - and thereby having to repeat something you thought was going to be kept in confidence anyway. And if it's a really juicy tidbit it's already been through six other people before it gets to you that it's been repeated. The joys of "rumor control". So how do we avoid this? It's fairly easy actually. Stop talking about each other. Or if you DO have something to say, recognize that it won't stay private and be ready to defend it. Yeah - that's a novel concept: take responsibility for what you said. I wonder how different police work would be without the rumor mill circulating behind us all the time? Or even better, how would police work be if the rumor mill only spread positive information? What if all we ever did was brag about each other? Isn't it a shame that's not what happens? What do you think?
About the Author

Lt. Frank Borelli (ret), Editorial Director | Editorial Director

Lt. Frank Borelli is the Editorial Director for the Officer Media Group. Frank brings 20+ years of writing and editing experience in addition to 40 years of law enforcement operations, administration and training experience to the team.

Frank has had numerous books published which are available on,, and other major retail outlets.

If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email at [email protected].

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