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Are You Lieutenant Material?

Are You Lieutenant Material?

Bill Reilly

There is a natural order to the world and there is a natural order to oral board preparation. With rare exceptions, we advance in police positions one step at a time. This series of articles (the first one was “The Sergeant’s Oral Board: Preparing to be #1”) represents the progression of responsibilities that each law enforcement position holds and the corresponding complexities of preparing for an oral board for the next rank. So, if it has been a while since you were successful at your sergeant’s oral board, and you are now preparing for an upcoming lieutenant’s oral board, you may wish to review the Sergeant’s Oral Board article as a foundational reference.

The lieutenant’s rank is generally the first step where manager responsibilities have been added to the job description. As an officer, deputy, or trooper you conquered the challenges of getting the job done; as a sergeant you are responsible for assuring the quality of the work performed by the frontline officers; as a lieutenant you will be facing the business challenges of law enforcement. The term middle-manager is often assigned to lieutenants. It is intended to reflect that some management responsibilities are expected, such as increased delegating, planning, and organizing; while recognizing that higher level management responsibilities, such as policy implementation and budget decision making are being retained at the command staff/manager level. The logic is simple, develop and demonstrate your competencies at a gradual rate, and if you are successful, you should be well-positioned to move even further up the ladder.

To keep us all on the same page it is important to recognize that agencies may differ in how they define ranks. Some agencies skip the sergeant rank and have lieutenants serve as the first-line supervisor; other agencies skip the lieutenant rank and have sergeants reporting to captains; and quite likely many other variations exist. For purposes of this article, the agency structure envisioned is one where officers represent the frontline, sergeants are first line supervisors, and lieutenants are middle-managers who report to captains (managers). So while the rank label may differ for your agency, this strategy is aimed at the sworn middle manager.

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