"I would think you... would appreciate the difference between knowledge and wisdom." Dax (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) Okay; so it's a fictional character talking to another fictional character in a sci-fi movie. But think about it and realize just how true it is. There is a huge difference between knowledge and wisdom. To illustrate the objective differences (because I tend to do that as I start out writing on topics like this) I visited dictionary.com to get a few definitions. Intelligence: capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity. NOTE: That doesn't imply that an intelligent person ever HAS learned, reasoned, understood, etc. "Intelligence" is just a measure of their capability to do so. Knowledge: the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension. NOTE: Less intelligent people can have knowledge. Highly intelligent people can have great or limited amounts of knowledge. Wisdom: the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action. NOTE: Being wise does not REQUIRE high intelligence or great knowledge, but together combined they empower greater levels of wisdom. Now let's take a look at all three as they apply to law enforcement. No academy recruit gets into the academy in the first place without some level of formal education. Whether that level is a high school diploma or a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice Studies - some level of education (knowledge) is required. We work on the assumption that the large majority of our recruits, rookies and veteran officers have a good level of intelligence - the capacity to learn - or they wouldn't have made it as far as they have. So what separates the recruit from the rookie; the rookie from the veteran; and the veteran from the highly respected very efficient (often disliked) grizzled old sergeant? Think of it this way... The recruit was born with a given level of intelligence. It may have been higher than normal or lower than normal but, for the sake of our discussion, we're going to assume it was average. That same recruit attended elementary, middle and high school (and perhaps college) and added a given amount of general knowledge to his "tool box". Knowledge is a powerful weapon if used properly so please don't chuckle too hard as I describe just like a defensive tactic skill. Then the recruit goes to the academy and is placed in an environment where he learns how to use his intelligence and knowledge - and the new knowledge he's acquiring - to do what is "right coupled with just judgment as to action." There's part of the definition for wisdom right there. A little while back I wrote a piece about the difference between Legal, Right and Wrong. Our laws can legislate what is LEGAL. They DON'T always legislate what is RIGHT. The laws also can't anticipate EVERY set of circumstances that will come to exist in our constant practice of this exercise we call life. Oddly enough, even the laws, as they exist and as detailed as they can be, don't set up conditions where every action that is WRONG is also ILLEGAL. Those debates are the reason so many lawyers make so much money every year. But when you look at the circumstances as they apply to law enforcement it becomes clear that an officer must have a decent level of intelligence which allows him to retain a good level of knowledge which (hopefully) he uses to support his decision making and action capabilities otherwise known as wisdom. So, when I ask what the difference is between the recruit, the rookie, the veteran and that other hero figure, the answer is how much wisdom each has. What do you think?