When Do I Get Promoted?

Hey, the younger guys are getting stripes, where is mine…


Have you ever heard that line before? The young officer walks in to your office and nearly demands to know. As if you don't tell them right away, they are going to walk out. This scenario happens more and more today. And no, this is not intended to be a slam on any 'Generation (insert alphabetic letter)' but there are several factors as to why this occurs. I will give you reasoning as to why the pressures on today's officers are making this happen more frequently and how we can prevent this from occurring.

We, as chiefs can direct the positive energy of staff towards what they are meant to be doing such as battling crime and terrorism. However, the demands of today's materialistic society and self-imposed time restraints all too often make our officers become far to self-stressed over needless issues. Face it, law enforcement, especially today, is far too stressful as it stands. Add to it a lawsuit, marriage, kids, toss in a divorce for good measure and we have a bubbling cauldron of stress. Now, if they are pursuing the gold shield of promotion; which can mean college courses or extra assignments - we have pegged the stress meter.

Time in Grade & Longevity

Most of us have some knowledge of the military. Our military has a time in grade program, which means that after a suitable length of time in service, the soldier is then eligible for promotion. The catch is here: say in the US Army there may be several hundred eligible for a few positions for sergeant for instance this quarter. Your police department does not differ that much; until someone leaves, there is not a slot. The other military program is quantitative management program (QMP) which ensures performance of senior non-commissioned officers. This means that if you have not achieved a certain rank in a prescribed number of years, you are out. Back to police work, a young officer observes a retired on-duty sergeant and gets inquisitive as to why this one can't be removed and he/she is the replacement. Answer: this is not the military.

One police chief and part-time Southern philosopher once wrote about longevity,

If you sit in a garage for twenty years, you don't turn into a master mechanic and you don't turn into a Buick either.

Working for an agency verses holding down a position and taking up space and oxygen are two different versions of gainful employment. One must invest in themselves to advance their position in life. A sterling example of this is a tale between two officers. One clamored for training at the local academy. One attended on his own time and days off. He switched his shifts and went the extra steps to ensure he could attend. The other applied for every school he could fill out the request for. He also nickeled and dimed the same department for overtime, comp time and every minute he could seek compensated for. Now, if you were the watch commander this is easy decision for recommendations - right? Later when promotions came about, which of the two had prepared themselves for it and which one got it? You guessed correctly. The first made the cognitive decision to invest in his future, he was a warrior; not a time card punching employee.

Truth in Advertising

The job market for officers is getting more difficult every passing year. Many youngsters are using law enforcement as a spring board to other careers. The CSI and other popular cop television series draw many to the lure of law enforcement. Soon they are dulled by the entry level and mundane lifestyle; for it is more exciting on the television. Not all are selected to be on the forensic team or other specialized units straight out of the academy. During the recruiting phase or first interviews they should be given the flow chart of the department. The prospects should be given a full job description of the police recruit. This should start their reality orientation towards police work.

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