Chief's Chair: Creating a happy patrol
Editor's note: In anticipation of police chiefs worldwide making the trip to Chicago for IACP, PoliceOne asked you to sit in the chief's chair and tell us what you would do if you were chief of police. We read every submission and selected some standouts from among those we received.
First and foremost I would like to start off by saying I have never been a supervisor and have only been a deputy for 5 years, so some of the things I would like to change may be pretty farfetched.
If I were sheriff of my agency in Southeast Texas the very first thing I would do would be to purchase a program that would allow my deputies to TYPE their reports (Yes, we still handwrite our reports). If my budget was increased by 50% I would give my deputies a much needed and deserved raise. I feel that patrol is the backbone of an agency, therefore, I would be an employees’ sheriff. I would aim to please my employees to the best of my ability. I feel that if your employees are happy with their sheriff and supervision, then they will instill the same in the community.
I would also develop a system where my employee would get monthly recognition for their productivity. My agency has approximately 500 employees within approximately 10 divisions, and I think I could afford a "Employee of the month dinner with the sheriff" for 10 people on a sheriff's salary. I would further not allow my command staff from Lieutenant on up to work extra jobs. My employees who do the grunt work daily for pennies need that extra job money more than someone in a supervisory position.
Since I'm on the topic of extra jobs, I would also assign personal radio call numbers for each of my officers and do everything in my power to issue each a portable radio to use anytime they were wearing the uniform of my office. I'm a major believer in officer safety, therefore, if my deputies are working an extra job they would have to check out at that location upon arrival and departure. I would not tolerate lying from anyone at my agency whether it be subordinates lying to supervisors and definitely not a supervisor lying to a subordinate.
I would change the horrible polyester uniforms to a more user-friendly uniform. I don't agree with shorts, but it would definitely be a more comfortable uniform. I would also implement a yearly physical fitness test for my agency and especially for my patrolmen. Fitness is a very important part of officer safety in my opinion. I would also implement a daily mandatory briefing for patrolmen. Our tattoo policy is another issue I hear the guys at my agency complain about. I would allow deputies with tattoos to wear short sleeve shirts unless they got new ink after I took over - then it's back to long sleeves.
Right now we have about 20-25 patrolmen working a 1600 square mile area with one supervisor on at a time. I would immediately add a second. I wouldn't change much with the Jail Division or Investigations. I think they have a good system going.
I have many other things I would change at my agency, but the sheriff wants his chair back. (I’m not really in his chair). One more thing: I would never lose touch with patrol. I would still wear a full class A uniform and drive a striped patrol unit, taking calls whenever I had the time. (Yes, even report calls!)