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December 31, 2019

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You don't talk much about how the department is viewed by those in and outside of it. I know you and many of the guys you write about have been in the department for a long time but is it viewed as a stepping stone for rank and file as well? What kind of turnover do you see in the rank and file? Is there mobility between your department and other types of policing like the highway patrol and sheriffs or do those departments require something different?

@ Jason A,

I am going to ponder this question for a bit. It is a great question, but one that needs a nuanced response.

Cheers,
RD


This is not an easy question.

My brother, Deputy Dog, has worked for four small agencies in the south and east of the state. The combined population for the two town and counties he’s worked for is less than the population I work in. In his ponds, law enforcement is respected and appreciated.

He sees working for smaller agencies as a means of getting hired and earning your certificate. As you gain experience, you can transfer to larger and better paying agencies, moving closer and closer to the place you want to live.

He sees being burning out around 5 years and leaving the job or lateraling to another agency. Where he works there are officers with 4-5 years on or 18-20. There is nothing in between.

Other officers from small towns and counties have told me they seems themselves as hired guns. They go were there is work and chase better pay and opportunities.


Straight Pipe Responded:

"I was reading your blog and read the question from your reader, Jason Alexander.

That’s is a complicated question and wow, how do you answer that.

Some thoughts about that.

I don’t see the department as a stepping stone for the rank and file to another agency.
In the past other small/medium agencies were a stepping stone to our agency.
The only exception was a guy in my class who went on to the FBI (FBI wanting their agents to have local police experience).

Turnover is a complicated question also.

Then there’s the change in pension systems: 2006 and before hires vs 2007 and after hires.

I think only in the last few years has there been more turnover, which is still not a lot.
Turnover was/is DOJ driven in my view. Then you have those that left for “greener pastures” only to come back realizing maybe the grass wasn’t greener wherever they went.

Mobility between agencies is easier to answer in that agencies all over are cannibalizing each other to be able to get manpower.But going to another agency is applying for a new job as you and I know, but people outside of the state LE may not realize.

People outside of the state LE think it’s just a “transfer”."

I look at like this:

Two of the four city council members are openly anti-police. The mayor and other councilor see would rather living in a world where policing is not necessary and see law enforcement as a necessary evil. To please their constituents, the city takes openly anti-law enforcement attitudes and creates cumbersome layers of restrictions designed to force de-policing.

The county artificially restricts the number of jail beds and has repeatedly reduced the budget of the DA’s Office and Sheriff’s Office. They do not believe incarceration is the answer. At jail, you do not have to make bail to be released. They even issue cite-in-lieu warrants for FTAs.

On the state level, jail sentences are minimal. If you compare the sentences for similar crimes to other states. The result is a revolving door of crime, especially for property offenses.

The citizenry for the most part, does not want the police to arrest people. They want the trespasser to leave their property, the thief to be told he’s trespassed, the high subject to go to the hospital, and they want a report. Many of those who want to press charges will never contact the DA’s Office to prosecute.

If I was to guess from my experiences, I would think about a third of people in the pond respect law enforcement, a third see it as a necessary evil, and a third are anti-police. Anti-police graffiti like ACAB is not uncommon. A12 foot long, “Fuck the Police” tag was scrawled over Christmas in the Bridgehead lot where most of the downtown officers write paper between calls.

Most of the officers in my agency want to stay here. The pay and opportunities are good, but burn out is constant threat. Most officers want to move off the street and find a position in Family Services, the Traffic Division, School Police, the Neighborhood Response Teams, or they want to promote. Being as lean as we are positions without promotion are scarce.

Now that the new officers have the state instead of the city pension, they can up and leave. Many new officers have walked away or gone to other agencies. Straight Pipe and I are struck in the city systems, so we will retire with the city. Everybody else has options.

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