It seems whenever I write an article about ineffective, lazy or just plain dumb supervisors it hits a chord. I get emails, texts, Facebook comments as well as officers approaching me at my seminars to describe how they have experienced, or are experiencing, people in supervisory roles that are just plain terrible.
In contrast, I also hear from supervisors who try to justify such practices as the “modern way to lead.” They maintain that electronic devices should be used. Subterfuge is sometimes necessary.
To that, I generally say: Bunk!
To recap …
GPS Leadership is Bad but A Slug is a Slug
Last week I wrote an article basically excoriating those in management roles who sneak around in bushes trying to catch their guys sleeping, who micromanage bureaucratic nonsensical minutia and specifically those who sit like gremlins in their offices staring at computers tracking their officers on GPS.
And I stand by my assessment. If you’re doing that you’ve already lost control of your shift and you certainly aren’t leading it.
That being said, my article was never meant to excuse the slugs who do just sit in their cars for the better part of a shift, day after day. Nor was I implying that supervisors checking GPS logs to see if said sluggos are doing anything other than sitting for eight hours was wrong. It’s not.
As much as I hate ineffective, lazy and bizarrely bureaucratically bosses, I have absolutely no use for the slugs.
So let me say it plainly. If you are getting paid to patrol, interact with, and develop relationships within the community; to deter crime, arrest criminals, and cite violators—then do it! If you are not doing those things, then you’re are a thief!
Yeah, I said it: a thief.
Listen, I know we all have our days where just sitting is going to happen. We need days like that. Not many private sector jobs allow such behavior, but in law enforcement we have periods where we are humping nonstop, working insane hours, and sometimes under huge psychological duress. So, at times we do nothing more than answer 9-1-1 calls. And until they come, we sit.
But, if that outlying instance describes your overall work philosophy and everyday practice, you’re a thief at best and a danger to other officers and the public at worst.
I know, I know, with the current climate that derides proactivity like stop-and-frisk as criminal and/or racist behavior, and if you have spineless supervisors who you are certain won’t back you no matter how right you may be, you may be lacking motivation.
But that doesn’t mean you can sit on your ass and wait for your biweekly pay check. And if you are—by my definition—you’re a slug!
Lazy officers often see themselves as misunderstood victims. It’s the agency or the community or the media that’s corrupt. Never them! Here’s the thing: Good officers in the same community and at the same agency don’t see it that way. They don’t want to work with lazy whiners. Why? Because good cops know you can’t count on the slugs when the feces hits the proverbial oscillating device.
Delude yourself all you want. Blame your supervisors because of all the things they do that displeases you. Come up with a million reasons to justify your slugness.
Doesn’t matter, don’t kid yourself: You’re not a cop anymore.
Shifts, units, divisions—whatever the terminology for your group—need strong, effective leaders who understand that leadership begins with understanding the importance of trust, respect, and the building of relationships. The vast majority of officers want to do this job well. But they can’t if they don’t have effective leaders that they can count on. The same is true of their other team members. If they can’t count on their partners the whole system will crumble.
There is always that small percentage of this profession who are just slugs. And they have to be dealt with.