Explorations in Policing, Faith and Life (With a hint of humor, product reviews, news and whatever catches my attention)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Motivation Part 3

We had a major incident that occurred almost two decades ago in which our town was linked to the crime but we were never able to discover where the crime had actually took place. A number of the affected departments set up an informal task force in order to solve the crime, but the leads were just not there and it went cold.

Recently the lead department received new evidence that pointed to a hitherto unknown suspect. They came to our department and coordinated with our investigation division to pickup and go speak with this new suspect.

So three-fourths of patrol is in the break room eating lunch, watching NASCAR on the flat screen television, when a senior member of our command staff walks by the room pushing a double-decker food cart. We let that go. A short time later he returns with a bunch of pizza boxes on the cart. The smart-mouth of our group, says, “Hey boss, that for us?”. He chuckles and says no. Then he and the cart disappear into the elevator and he goes up a couple of floors to the dick's offices. He and the cart return empty handed, followed by a return trip that contained drinks and finally a dessert run.

Right after the dessert run, the on-duty shift Sargent pops up and we ask him if any of the pizza that is going to our investigators and the outside department personnel is going to find its way to us. He tells us that he had not heard of the pizza and then walks out of the room. A short time later, he returned and said, yes there is pizza (like we would not recognize pizza as it went past us) but no, it was not for us. I then point out that it would take maybe 2 or at the most 3 pizzas to feed patrol and after they had bought all the other ones, how much more would it really cost to do that. A conversation soon breaks out between the three of us in patrol and the Sargent, in which we eventually concluded that in the command staffs' mind we are not worth the cost of three pizzas. I concluded the conversation by stating, “Well I for one am glad to know my actual dollar amount worth to the department. Now I can go get replacement insurance and know I am not going to overpay.” We all laugh and hit the street.

Fast forward to the next day and I am speaking now to the shift lieutenant about a different matter, when the same Sargent from the day before walks up. The lieutenant then says, “Oh that reminds me I found out about that pizza thing from yesterday.”

I think, crap, I shot my mouth off and irritated someone enough that the Lt is involved. The lieutenant then says, “If it makes you feel any better, our detectives didn't get any pizza either, they had to buy their own lunch. That was just for the officers that came in from the outside for this case.”

The Sargent and I just stare at our Lieutenant waiting for his mental bulb to light up. A few beats later it does. He sighs and states, “Wait, I think that worse. It means we care much more about a bunch of strangers we will never see again, then the actual people that work here. It makes you feel all warm and gooey inside.” And with that final statement the pizza topic was permanently shelved as an approved conversational topic.

I guess going down on the sinking boat is a little more comforting when you have company on that cruise, but then again I think we all would rather not be sinking in the first place.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Motivation Part 2

     Anyone that has read this blog for any amount of time quickly realizes that I hate traffic enforcement. Unless I need a reason to stop a load of gang bangers or a drug load, I really hate pimping the general public on silly traffic nonsense.

     The problem with my attitude is that in patrol it is an expected part of my duty day. So I decided to refocus myself now that I am back in patrol and at least fulfill my basic patrol duties.  We, as a department, are currently having a problem with our county. The court fees keep getting raised and the judges are feeling sympathetic to our traffic offenders because the fees are double the maximum possible ticket fine.  As a local department only get a percentage of the fine and nothing of the court fees. The judges are still finding the traffic offenders guilty but instead of the max fine they are taking it all the way down to twenty, ten and in one case, five dollar fines. The bottom line is the county is making bank on all of our work.

    Our administration, rightly, decided to try to keep as many tickets within the city as is possible, so that we can reap the work of our hands rather than the county. This making sense, I dedicated myself to local ordinance, equipment and parking tickets. Fast forward a year and I am getting my annual review. I have full points. Further, he lets me know that he is pleasantly surprised that I am second on my shift in total tickets written, knowing full well that it was not a passion of mine.

     However, sheepishly my Sargent, lets me know that there is one thing we have to talk about. He goes on to say that he was asked to do an audit of the total traffic stops for the department. In that audit, I am the last one on the shift in total traffic stops. So he asks me nicely, to commit to more traffic stops. I then foolishly ask if he is going to talk to anyone else about this ticket/traffic stop issue. He tells me no. So I say, “Okay, you are not going to talk to the guys who wrote less tickets than I did because they did more traffic stops than I did.”

    He says, “yes”. 

     I then ask, “But didn't our Chief rightfully say we needed to write as many as local ordinances as we possibly could. So if I write more of my tickets as moving violations, the city will get less money.”

    He responded, “Yep, that was my take away from that conversation. But remember making traffic stops, not just writing tickets are an important part of your job.”

I rejoin, “But hasn't every study from the seventies till now shown that traffic stops have little to no effect on the public's driving behavior?”. He again nods yes. I finish with, “So if I understand this, I need to do more of a thing that doesn't change the public behavior or increase safety, does not raise money for the city just to hit a magic number that someone above you has arbitrarily set, that we don't know what that is? When they have asked us to do the exact opposite, via roll call training, email, and personal visits to roll call?” He sighs, give me the shoulder shrug, that universally indicates, look its not my idea I just have to tell you about it.

    I let him know that I certainly would make more stops and just walked away shaking my head. Policy is the right thing to follow, you know, until they don't want you to follow their policy. Fun on the job.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Christmas Time-Motivation Part 1

 I am still here. I took some time off from the blog in order to achieve some fresh prospective on law enforcement. In other words, I got banged around a bit and got pissed and had to take five. The following expressed memory is not anything that made me angry, just thought it was amusing.

Any-Who, last Christmas, our DC came into the patrol room a week or so before Christmas with a big box of booze. I just happened to be there and in seeing the big box of booze and knowing the proximity to our blessed Lord's birthday, asked what purpose the box provided (hoping of course...free booze). He said, “Oh this? Its nothing.” Disappointed I went back to my squad.

A few days later I had to ask the Sargent a question and there sitting on his desk was one of the bottles of booze with a jaunty bow on top and a card close by. I asked the Sargent if that was his Christmas present from the DC and I was informed it was. So what did patrol get? A Christmas card? Nope. A merry Christmas email? Nope. Acknowledgment that it was the holiday season? Nope, zip, zilch and nothing.

So I look in my mail box and see that the Chief had given each of us a personalized Christmas card. Okay, some love for patrol, finally. I opened the card and was wished a merry Christmas among other positive Christmas suggestions and holiday desires. It was at this point, I noticed that the Chief's name was spelled wrong in the salutation section. Thinking this was inadvertent and not at all put aback by a printed signature rather a personally signed one, I found a group of us loitering around the station and pointed out the mistake. We all had a lark and a laugh, until the Sargent came over and said, “Oh I asked him about that. He said he realized that the printers had screwed up so he had a fresh corrected batch made. He gave us the misspelled cards so that the cards that go out to the real people are spelled correctly.”

I responded by telling the first story of the DC and booze. I then pointed out how all warm and fuzzy a Christmas in patrol was and said, “Merry (insert your departments name here) F'n Christmas everybody!”, and walked out into the night.

Ah if every company cared as much about the workers' personnel feelings as our departments care about ours, it would all look like a a scene out of the back room of a post office in the eighties.

Merry belated Christmas everybody.

PS: I really said F'n and not the full word, just for a point of order there.