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Confidence and Leadership: Preparing for the Captain's Oral Board

Assistant Chief Bill Reilly | PoliceLink

OK, you’re testing for captain; expect the gloves to come off.  You are not a novice; you have elevated yourself from officer to sergeant to lieutenant.  The basics of oral boards are familiar to you; you have been through those challenges and have succeeded.  So how can they increase the difficulty for a captain-level candidate? They can make the questions more nebulous while expecting your responses to have more depth.

Keep in mind that this is an oral board.  There is a difference between an oral board and real life.  The reality of reducing crime would be very difficult to sum up in a three minute response.  However, for the oral panel, reality as you know it has to be put in check.  The panel is seeking for you to be positive, opportunity-seeking, and knowledgeable on “best practices” that can be put to work for your community and department.  Bottom line, for the captain’s oral board, pessimism will doom you, optimism will elevate you.

Let’s work with this one question:

As a newly promoted captain assigned to oversee a patrol district, what will you do to reduce crime?

When this question is presented, three elements that should be considered are:

• Knowledge of your jurisdiction, agency, and the role of the police captain
• Leadership
• Crime reduction best practices

Because the majority of the law enforcement agencies in the United States provide services to municipalities, the considerations below are crafted in that direction.

Knowledge of your jurisdiction:

What are the specific needs and concerns of your jurisdiction?  Is it urban, suburban, or rural?  While text books are often generic in their management direction, oral board responses should be crafted toward the specifics of the community being served.  Captain candidates should show that they understand the needs of the community, not just the demographics and crime statistics.

Knowledge of your agency:

You will be hard-pressed to find a law enforcement agency that does not have a mission statement. Yes, the mission statement; that official document that is too often crafted by the agency’s leadership and then allowed to remain relatively unknown to the front line officer.  Regardless of that, the mission statement clarifies the agency’s purpose for the members of the agency as well as the community.  Because it is a formal document, it stands as a solid reference for you to use in your oral board answers.  Additionally, if “partnership” is in the mission statement, the Community-Oriented Policing (C.O.P.) philosophy is likely to be the umbrella label for the service model of your agency (more on this later).

Next Page: Do You Know the Mission of Your Agency? >>>

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