Will—CAN—Anyone Serve Anymore? Cops Respond.

August 9, 2023

Jim Glennon’s recent commentary, Is Anyone Willing or Even Capable of Serving Anymore? drew loads of feedback. No surprise. Here’s some of what we heard:

Chief Bailiff Rick Babcock with the Reno Justice Court in Nevada responded:

As usual, Jim is spot on with telling it like it is. Long and short of it is, we have a crisis moving forward with filling both military and civilian first responder career positions with quality candidates. And more often we are seeing the results of agencies that have lowered standards in an attempt to fill vacant positions with disastrous results.

Awhile back I was in a meeting with our local Chief JOP. He ended the meeting on a reality check which applies to sworn and non-sworn personnel in the criminal justice system. To summarize, the days of getting enough high performing candidates to fill positions is gone. They are still out there, but not every position will be filled by one. As others here, I came into this career field back at a time when there would be 40-60 applicants for 4 positions. Agencies could afford to be picky with selection. Not the case now and hasn’t been for awhile, actually.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix the problem, or ask the good idea fairy for advice, but moving forward, it’s only going to get tougher finding great candidates.

First Sgt. Brad Kline with Steuben Co. (IN) Sheriff’s Office wrote:

First, even though the media constantly tells us we live in a democracy and many of our politicians tell us we need to preserve this democracy, we do not live in a democracy. The biggest problem we are dealing with today is that most Americans have allowed this mentality to creep in over the last 100 years. We live in a compound republic!

The very idea that mob rule is the rule of the day is crippling our society. The very idea that tolerance, and acceptance of everyone’s idea is not acceptable for our government, or society to be preserved. We need to return to the principles of the original constitutional values of liberty.

What is liberty you ask? It is freedom coupled with morality. If there is no ideal, or moral value to preserve you lose those who are willing to preserve it. Bring back value and morality and a line to be drawn and you will bring back the guardians of the constitutional compound republic!

Sgt. Dan Holliday with Penn State Univ. PD wrote:

I must be part of the 7%. After 28 years in patrol, my daughter asked recently if I would recommend her getting into law enforcement given the current climate.

My reply was simple. I told her if good people don’t apply, bad people will. I’m proud to say, she has started the application process.

From Master Peace Office Steve Cherry with Grayson College PD in Denison, TX:

I became a cop in a small Texas town in 1972 and I am currently a part-time officer for a community college PD. Over my 51 years with a badge, I slowly moved into training and teaching, and off the street. My full-time job for the last 24 years has been the criminal justice instructor at a local high school.

All that being said, I see on a daily basis perfect examples of what your article reveals:

(1) Most of my students do not have a clue about what “being a cop” really means, and

(2) most are not physically able to do that job.

I do my best to make them see that it is certainly possible, but they will have to WORK at it.

On a brighter note, in my 24 years here I have had over 100 students become law enforcement officers. I am proud of them and hope to have many more join up.

 Sgt. Jennifer Moreau with the Salisbury (NC) PD shared:

You stated it perfectly: when they have some type of feeling, they hit a button and poof, gratification. There are many studies on the relationship between delayed gratification and success. This and manners are what I believe parents need to teach their kids, if they don’t teach anything else.

To shift policing back into being just a job, go ahead and get rid of entry requirements, lower the standards, let someone mess up in a serious way for you to then weed them out. To move policing further into the category of a profession, keep your standards, uphold entry requirements, and prevent the hiring of those who could possibly hurt someone.

Never lose sight of that – the WHY. When I went through a phase after being promoted to Sergeant, of asking myself why, and really thinking about it, I had an “ah ha” moment:

People are always hollering, “Why won’t someone DO something?” or “Why didn’t YOU do something?” or “Police don’t do anything!” Thinking of when people are attacked in public, and many think of videoing the incident but none step in to stop the horror, I came up with this saying that I put in my emails, and I tell to recruits:

“That no one would do anything is tragic. That someone would do something is amazing. Be amazing.”

Thousands of officers are amazing every day simply because they do something. You don’t have to be perfect. Just do something to make the world a little better for those living in it.

Sergeant/Detective Sergeant Michael Hanson (ret.) from the Indianapolis Metropolitan PD responded:

I agree with what you have said regarding applicants today. However, perhaps the quality of the applicant has as much to do with police management as it does anything else. Qualified individuals who might be otherwise interested have seen the way that police management throws good officers under the bus and refuses to stand up to the outrageous claims made by those seeking a payday. I spent a total of 32 years in law enforcement and was fortunate enough to retire in 2015, just as all the turmoil was starting reference Mike Brown.

Additionally, all the politics in police departments is ridiculous. Police chiefs who don’t support their troops, supervisors who are more interested in looking to find someone doing something wrong than they are in finding someone who does things right, all in the name of pleasing their political bosses. Mayors and prosecutors who decide that laws they don’t like will not be enforced. The broken window theory…they’ve never heard of it.

Unless and until police departments clean up their own yards, they will continue to get unqualified and unworthy applicants.

Retired NYPD Sgt. David Porter, formerly on special assignment as a School Safety Supervisor wrote:

This article is poignant and timely as it asks several questions and causes us to rethink how we hire, the standards we set as well as those we walk away from, the reality of the world we live and work in currently and the expectations of the public as well as our own.

First, we should not compromise on our hiring standards. Our minimum age in my opinion, should be 21 years of age as our life experience, educational and work history will differ greatly between the ages of 19 and 21.

Secondly, our physical standards should not change. The physical challenges of our job will never change. There will be those moments where we will need to chase someone on foot, or run up flights of stairs to render aid, or drag if not carry someone to safety no matter how much a jurisdiction waters down its officer contact with the public.

Third, you have to have a baseline for hiring to at least attempt to weed out those who will bring shame and harm to the reputation of the profession. What happens in on jurisdiction affects us all.

Fourth, to loosen up on uniform and grooming standards is detrimental to our dealings with the public as everyone we come in contact with make judgements of us based on what they see– first and foremost our appearance. It’s tough enough to be young in our appearance. Add looking like an unshaven, long-haired soup/sandwich to the mix and our officers will always be starting at a deficit when it comes to dealing with the public.

Last, eliminating contacts with the public by reducing the need for car stops for various traffic offenses will disallow us to encounter and apprehend the Timothy McVeigh’s of the world.

Restore the pride in this honorable calling, support those who accept the calling, give them the training needed according to policy to be successful and they will continue to answer the call!

From newsletter reader Johnny Marcella:

Wow! it’s just crazy. I am 55 years old and part of that outside, ride a bike without a helmet, come in when the street lights came on and drank out of a water hose because we weren’t allowed inside group. I graduated high school in 1986. I saw the change of the culture over those 4 years and saw it in the lower classes that graduated after me.

My youngest daughter is in Basic Training in the Army. They now have prep camps for physical fitness before Basic to help the numbers pass just the minimum standard.
Like our planet and our species, we are ever evolving. Unfortunately, sometimes one must change or die.

Senior DEA Special Agent (ret.) Edward Wezain shared:

I am now in my mid-60’s. Reading this article was like a walk down memory lane. Our current situation in this country reminds me of the 1993 movie “Demolition Man” with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. It seems to me we are not far off from that scenario. Unfortunately, society is slowly becoming more violent and lawless while those in charge are becoming weaker and meeker in the name of political correctness. Not a good situation for our future.

And finally, Master Deputy Sheriff Rick Lallement (ret.) formerly with Orange Co. SO in Orlando, FL wrote:

For decades, we in law enforcement were more and more frequently being labeled as the problem with society. We’ve been called every name in the book, blamed for being too tough or too weak. Assigned to fix anything and everything no one else had time for or a desire to resolve. If you have a problem, any problem, large or small call 9-1-1 and we come running.

I spent my career in what was once one of the most proactive agencies in the Southeast. We were fortunate to have elected Sheriffs who took the job seriously and insured our personnel had the tools and training to serve and protect. Agencies from all over the nation and world often came to us for help, training and expertise.

I started seeing the change when we changed Sheriffs in 2008/09. We moved from cop leadership to a politician looking for a steppingstone to his next elected position of incompetence. We started seeing a change in personnel up the chain from the ones you’d follow through the gates of hell to get the job done to some you would not even follow into a 7-11 for a bottle of water.

Then the quality of new hire transformed from those who looked at the role as their lifelong goal and a career, to those that needed a job for their resumes as a temporary I need a job. Sheriff’s Office has benefits, a take home car and I can work off duty and make a killing until I find a better job. During this time, I was actively involved in the field training program and have spent the last 15 years in major case CID. I had returned to the agency after retiring initially with 25 yrs. and venturing out into the private sector where success came easy until the economy went bust and back to the agency I went. This time back in uniform.

At this stage in my life, I looked at it as fun. I had some significant civilian leadership experience now and a new understanding of how to work that into law enforcement. When they heard I was coming back, most of my friends said you’ll be back in Homicide in a month, but new Sheriff, new rules. Apparently, he had other plans for the agency.

I thought “whatever,” I had not been in a uniform from 1991 through 2004 and thought this could be fun. I ended up on one of the agency’s FTO squads where new recruits come for various phases of their training. For the next 4 years, I can attest maybe one out of five newly crowned deputies fresh out of the academy looked at law enforcement as a career. Most, when I asked about their goals for the tenure with the agency, were quick to suggest they were just going to spend the limited time allowed on the road before transferring to say Homicide. I’d laugh and say best of luck, I worked my way into Homicide. Took me 15 years to make that goal, but personally I felt working my way through various lower investigative roles taught me and created a resume for me to be a Homicide Detective. But maybe you’re way smarter than me with your zero years of investigative and life experience.

As training went on, I began asking newbies when they first got into the passenger seat of my car, one of my most important questions; Have you ever been in a fight? Overwhelming response was “never”. Not as a child with a sibling, not in grade school, not in a bar, zip, naughta, nothing.

Most said they weren’t raised to believe in violence. Being a smart ass, I often said you may want to switch from LE to the FD where they mostly get waived at with all five fingers and really like seeing the big red fire truck with Santa sitting on the hose bed in parades.

I had some that figured out really quickly sometimes police work requires more than a strict talking to. Sometimes hands on are a fight for your life. Others not so much, they’d do just enough to move onto the next FTO. I’d grade accordingly, document my fears and their performance and was kindly told, we have to move them on unless they decide on their own this job isn’t for them.

By 2012, I saw I was no longer at the agency I once was proud to say I was part of. The agency had changed the politics was ridiculous and frankly the Sheriff now in power was systematically tearing down the agency from what it once was to a group of only respond to what you’re dispatched to, do basic proactive policing unless there is a complaint and then do not re-engage. Most of my friends still with the agency were there only to get that last one or two years in and get out. I had enough and walked into HR and said you know, it’s been real, it’s been fun, but time to go again. A few of the non-woke still in HR, looked at me and said good idea. We hate to see you go, but we’re leaving, too, when we can.

A new Sheriff was elected after the last one did his best to destroy the agency when he was elected to his next position of incompetence, where he can destroy the what’s left of the County. The newest guy unbelievably is worse than the last one. He has taken woke-ism to a new level. It’s sad to see a once proactive, well-respected agency take such a drastic fall in this decade. I wish things would have stayed the same and one Sheriff after the other would have just built on what the last ones prior to 2009 had done but as they say, you can’t fix stupid nor woke politicians with personal agendas.

Unfortunately, there is no end in sight and this new brand of law enforcement reality is what we’re stuck with. The professional backups are in charge now.



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  1. Anonymous

    Of all the comments I’ve read here, I think Master Deputy Sheriff Rick Lallement (ret.) Orange Co. SO in Orlando, FL comes closest to what I’ve seen in my 46 years with a major CA metropolitan Sheriff’s Dept. I started in 1977, did almost 34 years – retired as a Sergeant – and then stayed on as a Reserve Deputy. I’ve watched the changes over the decades: in hiring standards, in training, in personnel and their goals, and in the political leadership, now infested with woke-ism. Not good, where we’ve ended up, and I [sadly] don’t see any change happening in my lifetime.

  2. Bill

    I have embarked on an extensive police background investigation following a distinguished 20-year tenure as a max security prison correctional officer. The comprehensive year-long process, coupled with my extensive training in PC832, Chemical Agents, Firearms, and Arrest and Control, showcases my commitment to maintaining law and order. My resilience, having faced multiple assaults throughout my career, underscores the incredible strength and determination I am willing to bring to the realm of law enforcement.

    Have worked in the correctional field for two decades one thing is true violence does not care about race, age, gender or ideology. There is always a precursor to the violent act. Like person playing poker that has a tell. If you notice it, be mindful. As law enforcement do your best to deescalate.

    Also be aware that some people will be on substances and will just want to watch the world burn.

  3. Tim Daugherty

    America went thru a similar time in the late 60s early 70s. It was a difficult time for both the military and law enforcement. But, as you now begin to see, even the leftist liberals are starting to change their tune. Now that they feel threatened by their own actions to defund and tie down the police they are calling for a greater law enforcement presence. And calling loudly!! Illinois Governor Pritzker has passed a law that allows non-citizens to become law enforcement officers. Maybe good, maybe bad. But is that the direction we want law enforcement to go? Like agriculture workers?


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