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Being an Effective Law Enforcement Supervisor | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Being an Effective Law Enforcement Supervisor

As community/police relations hit an ever dropping low point, a growing number of chiefs, supervisors and administrators have weighed in offering their own vision on how to turn things around. Unfortunately, many high ranking officers have fallen victim to political correctness or public perception and, instead of supporting their troops, they have turned to tying their hand even further behind their back while expecting them to continue doing everything asked of them. I have my own advice- this time for those supervisors. Get out from behind your desk, hit the streets and correct things as they happen on the front lines.

I have spent a large percentage of my career as a supervisor and, while I make no claims at having been the best officer or smartest boss, I have been lucky enough to have worked with both. I have also had the opportunity to work with or for some of the worst as well. I like to think that some of the good has worn off and some of the bad has helped me learn and one of the lessons I learned early on is that good bosses spend at least some of their time riding patrol instead of a desk. I think that is even more important today as conditions worsen.

Early in my career I thought seeing a boss on patrol or working a detail was nice; it meant that they were sharing the workload a bit and showing the troops a little support. Kind of like when a unit rolls through an unproductive district, flying the flag so the neighbors see you even if you’re not really needed.

SupervisorAs I advanced through the ranks, I took a slightly different view. I still worked patrol and details because it was expected of me; I was a first level supervisor and was expected to work uniform. But I also saw another benefit when it came to difficult situations. By being on the street, I was in a position to take the heat off officers when an angry or unsatisfied citizen attempted to start something on the scene. But this was about more than showing support; it allowed me to be the focus of the citizen’s attention and, if it came to it, the object of any complaint.

Now that I am out of uniform I still try to get out in the field, especially when I am asking an officer to deal with something which may be exceptionally difficult. I also see another benefit to being on the scene rather than on the phone or radio – defusing situations when the adrenaline is pumping and either side gets worked up.

Supervisors cannot ride with every officer during every shift, nor should they. But, if you know you are sending officers into a situation which you know will be exceptionally difficult or has a greater-than-normal chance of going sideways, it is your responsibility to be there. Most people think that supervisors are paid to make the difficult decisions and that’s true. But they are also paid to take the heat when necessary, something which far too many high ranking officers are unwilling to do.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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