Perception Plays a Part in the Success of a New Street Cop
As you progress through your first few years as a patrol officer, what supervisors and other officers think of you – and say about you – will play a large part in determining your success. Professionally, these years are where you will call the most attention to yourself and establish your reputation. You will feel pressure to simply blend in with your colleagues and fly under the radar, but to advance quickly to specialty positions or promote you must set yourself apart from everyone else some way.
Of course as a new street cop, you should be writing tickets, conducting satisfactory investigations, and making plenty of arrests. These things are simple to measure and evaluate. The other things you do that catch people’s eye are sometimes just as important as how many felony arrests you make. However, you must always be sincere in your actions. Here are a few tips on how to positively attract attention to yourself as a new street cop and do it so others will see you as a genuine candidate for advancement.
Be the First In and the Last Out
Be the first officer to show up to briefing or roll call and the last to arrive at the station when your shift ends. How your boss perceives your work ethic plays a large part in how well you are thought of. If you are the last cop dragging his bag into briefing still getting dressed every shift, it will be noticed. If you are the first cop driving into the parking lot at the end of shift and the first into the locker room to change – that too will be noticed. Not only will your Sergeant wonder why, as a new cop, you are so eager to go home right away, your beat partners will interpret this as an attempt to avoid late calls – whether you are or not.
While you technically only have to work during the hours you are paid for, distinguishing yourself from others in this manner has little chance of favorably working for you. Sacrificing a few minutes before and after your shift will hardly cramp your style. What you must avoid are negative patterns that are glaringly obvious to those who assess you.
Treat Your Beat Like You Own It
Handle every call for service in your beat efficiently and take it personally when crimes are committed in your area during your shift. When you wrap up a call, no other officer should have to come back and clean up something you failed to do. Taking ownership of problems in your geographic area of responsibility will demonstrate you have the maturity to advance in the eyes of supervisors.
When you notice a pattern of crime in your area, don’t wait for the crime analyst – or worse your Sergeant – to figure out that it exists. Come up with a game plan to address the problem and communicate your strategy to your beat partners and supervisor. Know if the following people reside in your district and keep a record of where they live:
- Convicted Felons
- Sex Registrants
- Federal or Local Judges
- City Council Members
- Police Officers
Take the time to establish rapport with the employees of businesses as well. They should know your name and you should know theirs. Share intelligence with them about their patrons and any issues they have with crime. Explain to them what you expect from them and what they should do if a crime occurs where they work. This is the primary mission of community oriented policing, so knowing everything about your beat, and as much about the people that work and reside within it, is a necessity.