Old Advice for New Sergeants

By Varga, Albert | Law & Order, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Old Advice for New Sergeants


Varga, Albert, Law & Order


First line supervision... one of the toughest jobs in policing.

For the new or old first Une supervisors, here are highlights from police supervision courses, interviews of road sergeants, and opinions from criminal justice professors - ideas for first line supervisors in patrol.

Mentally Prepare

Keep abreast of current events, read more than your local newspaper. It is essential to be aware of local events in the town you patrol. Become an avid reader to improve your knowledge and . increase your communication skills. Read biographies of successful persons and military leaders. Develop your game plan. Accept and be pleased that you are now part of the bigger picture. Write down your goals in your plan and refer to them. Be enthusiastic.

Start Each Day "Squared Away"

Plan and participate in a physical exercise regimen. Leaders are generally considered to be in good physical condition. This will boost your confidence and improve your inner self. Upgrade or clean your gear, uniform, shoes. They should at least be above average in appearance. You don't have to be "spit and polish." Keep reports and logs up to date.

Advance Your Education

Go back to school to refresh or obtain a higher degree. Learn a foreign language. Volunteer for any training that will increase or renew skills. Be an enthusiastic learner.

Base of Knowledge

Review and be knowledgeable of the following: Department rules and regulations, labor contracts, especially the grievance and discipline processes, criminal and motor vehicle laws, emergency management protocols. Talk with other supervisors on how they handle discipline and grievances.

Know Your Officers

Get to know the officers who will be in your squad or unit. Review your officers' backgrounds regarding education, years of service, special citations, work record. Plan an individual interview with each officer in your charge, ask about goals, family, hobbies, and training they received, areas of expertise they might have, but above all, listen to what they say. They will appreciate an opportunity to be heard.

Let them know you will have to evaluate each officer and let them know you will be fair and unbiased. They should be told what you expect for performance. Never discipline or criticize an officer in front of other officers. Show empathy when an officer comes to you with a personal problem.

Keep a Daily Log

Each day you are on duty you should make notes of all significant activities and any important involvement with the officers, positive or negative. The log is an important source to recall performances by the officers for the quarterly or annual evaluations. Don't use the log for trivia matters such as coffee breaks, etc.

Don't write anything in the log that will embarrass you or your officers. Officers may have the right to see those comments in a formal disciplinary hearing. The log is a tool, not to be used for personal vendettas or micro-managing officers. …

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