Last week we shared 12 career tips for cops that are listed in a small but information-packed manual called Pocket Partner and then asked for yours. Here are a few extra tips we received from our readers:
Sgt. J. Perea with the New Mexico State Police responded:
The grass may be greener on the other side but remember it’s still fed with the same BS.
If you wouldn’t do an activity in front of your boss or family, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it at all Despite us seeing the worst of people, not everyone is a criminal or bad guy. Treat everyone with respect/professionalism, it will keep you out of trouble.
Learn to tactically breathe and break your tunnel vision. Mistakes can and will be made in high stress situations but if you can slow down just enough, you will make it through the situation
Don’t allow yourself to get dragged into the BS other cops do. In the end you will have to answer for your actions and it’s your career on the line.
Don’t be scared to do your job. Make sure you do it by the book and according to the law.
Always roll play situations or calls you’ve been involved in. Ask yourself how you would have handled it had it gone another way.
If all you do is complain and are negative about things, your career will be negative. Garbage in is garbage out.
Sgt. Barry Tong with Honolulu PD shared:
I always tell the younger officers to know their limitations and their equipment’s limitation.
Not knowing the limitations on oneself and your equipment can have a catastrophic outcome.
The one I see the most in the field is not knowing the limitations on their vehicle or driving skill. It is the reason why officers or civilians are injured or killed.
You often see officers in YouTube videos pushing it way pass the limitations of the vehicle or their driving skills. Like Dirty Harry has said to the criminals, “A man has got to know his limitations”
I use that one all the time to newer officers. It always gets their attention.
Peter Olsen, a retired deputy from St. Louis Co. SO in Duluth, MN said:
For emergency driving or pursuits, just drive to your ability. No one will care if you drive carefully. You don’t want to be in the headlines for crashing, dying, or killing someone because you were out of control.
Officer Morley Brenenstuhl with Medina, OH PD added:
Something I’ve learned over the years is to never believe something 100%. Do your job, take the report, and ask questions, but don’t take sides. Just because someone appears truthful doesn’t mean they are. As the Russian proverb says, Trust but Verify.
Talking to people one the street, in homes and businesses, and finding out information as they come up in reports or databases reveal the person you thought was upstanding and truthful really isn’t.
From Sgt. Alex Marmolejo (ret.) formerly with the Corona (CA) PD:
Some great tips here. Cops should print this out and have this in their lockers.
I would add:
Faith. This doesn’t have to be religious. In fact, it’s far from it. It is a belief in the idea that you’re a warrior doing good, no matter what anyone says. Something that, in one of those stops that goes south, makes you fight on. It can be God if you wish, just keep it in perspective. “In God we trust, all others we handcuff.”
Guard your psychological environment. This can be linked to faith but this is by far, the most critical. Don’t get infused by the negative politics, the lack of promotion and the constant needling by those sub-par cops who are trying to torpedo your career.
Keep your family close. Remember who is really important and draw strength from that.
Study, learn, grow. Develop professional relationships with those who warrant it. Lawyers, other cops, other enforcement bodies. Take courses, learn about everything and become an expert. Make yourself invaluable and create a need for yourself and your skills.
Embrace the chaos. I started my investigatory career by approaching the Crown’s office and asking the latest lawyer doing a rotation there: “What do I have to do to win cases for you?” The lawyer was stunned. No cops ever came to the Crown’s Office looking for advice!
I took many lawyers to lunch and learned more than a year in Cop School. I learned how to write notes and reports and survive courtroom testimony. All the lawyer’s tricks were now MINE. After about 2 years, and many stumbles in court, I became a force to be reckoned with with a 93% conviction rate.
To me, when a lawyer approaches and wants a ‘hallway talk,’ you’ve won. It means your case is solid and they have little to pick at.
This truly reduces the stress of having to testify when some of the best lawyers see you coming in prepared and start nervously mumbling. This in turn gives you power and a sense of accomplishment further than chasing the bad guy.
Capt. Daniel Grasso (ret.), U.S. Capitol Police responded:
Good comments. I’ll add:
1. Read a lot of books and magazines on law enforcement. I suggest “Officer Down: Code 3,” “Street Survival,” “Deadly Force Encounters,” “Gift of Fear,” “Verbal Judo.” I also recommend reading newspapers to help you stay current on current events. Also consider subscribing to Federal Law Enforcement Center case law updates and other L/E type online publications.
2. Carry liability insurance.
3. If you have to, pay for additional training. Document it and keep your training materials.
4. Know & practice “contact & cover.”
5. Voluntary compliance is the goal.
Former DEA Special Agent Ed Wezain writes:
My two cents and two tips:
1. Play the “what if” game. If this happens, what will I do? If you rehearse different scenarios in your mind before they happen you will be better prepared for them in real life.
2. Be socially aware and stay in contact with people you know. While this is easy to do in a small department it is much harder to do in a large department, particularly at the state and federal levels. Contacts are everything. Also do not limit your social contacts to just your department. Become familiar with the area you serve and who is in it.
Lt. R. C. Foster (ret.) formerly with Duncanville, TX PD writes
Always expect the unexpected, don’t ever think that where you police is too small or too slow for an extreme event to take place. Thinking like that has a way of coming back and biting you where it hurts.