As a new officer years ago, I spent the first five years on patrol working the same shift, with the same supervisors and same core of officers, day in and day out. My partner and I had it down to a science, we knew each other so well that we could almost calculate each other’s every move, and we could tell from our voice tone on the radio if we needed back up or if it was just time to grab our lunch break.
No matter if you work for a three-officer police department or a 3,000-officer department, it’s vital to have a good working relationship with your co-workers. Working the beat day-in-and-day-out is quite a bit different than working in corporate America and standing around the water cooler with Joe Blow from the accounting department.
You may have to save your partner’s life, or vice versa. Having a strong, trustworthy, working relationship with your peers on the beat ensures your safety and their safety, not to mention it creates quite a brotherhood. Camaraderie however, should never — at any cost — be construed as covering up a wrong done by another officer. You can see from the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles or the Danziger Bridge incident in New Orleans where that can get you.
Rumors about non-work related things and unhealthy “stabbing in the back” should be avoided at all cost. Keep the “conversations about so-and-so” for after work over coffee or dinner.
Going out on a disturbance and stepping in and taking a knuckle sandwich to the face for your partner will build trust and camaraderie, believe me. Talking about another officer’s personal problems with other officers behind his or her back will not. Volunteering to take that report call so your buddy can finish his lunch break is a favor you will find returned back to you, avoiding helping another officer could label you as an outsider.
In fact, if you build trust with officer’s who are going through struggles, they may very well confide in you when not at work, because they trust you.
Not to be religious or anything — strictly from a good lesson point of view — as a officer I like to take the approach from the biblical parable that said, “Take the log out of your own eye before you try to take the splinter out of mine.”
When a patrol platoon or shift is meshing together in harmony, people notice, including superior officers — sometimes even top brass. A group that gets along will consistently have less complaints and higher accomplishments than do groups of officers that can’t trust each other with the little things — much less their lives. And before you know it, you may just develop lifelong friends that know you better than anyone else, and having to call for back up won’t be necessary, because they will already be standing by your side...