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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
Careers

Bad Habits

You may want to fit in too badly.

January 09, 2008  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

I must confess here that sometimes we senior officers and FTOs do not set the best of examples for recruits. Then again, some recruits may assume bad habits in an effort to fit in and become part of the group. Let's look at what we do badly and then aim to avoid it.

This is going to sound old school, but this is reality as well. Many departments now have stringent no smoking policies while on duty and some even require no tobacco agreements for new hires. This is a good thing for most. In my day it was more lackadaisical than today. I have heard recruits state that they took up smoking for inclusion or defense. Many have begun using smokeless tobacco products for the same reasons.

There are two things here that should be discussed. One is that FTOs and senior officers should respect officers who do not use tobacco products; it is not what real police do anymore. Additionally, a recruit should not feel pressured into doing something that he or she has made a cognitive decision not to do, just for the sake of inclusion.

Some of you may ask, "Does this actually happen?" The answer is, yes. I was a long-time tobacco user and have now finally quit this time, thanks to my lovely wife. But it is a struggle and I don't want my future recruits to have this burden on them.

Years ago the term choir practice was used for a cop's night out for debauchery. After most of our spouses and ex-spouses found this out a new code word was developed down South: hot suppers. There are two things here, young recruits, that you should pay heed to. One is when cops get together for the choir, hot supper, or debauchery somebody is going to pay a price. Sooner or later, internal affairs will be participants even though they were not originally invited. Secondly, notice I used the term "ex-spouse." If you hang around old cops long enough, you will find out this, too, can result from too many "hot suppers."

The point of this is to watch yourself, for you are the most important person here. If you are not a drinker, party person, or whatever you call it, watch yourself around those who are; it is your career at stake, not theirs. You do not want to put your career on the line for one night of revelry. Furthermore, if you are the recruit, you are still on probation so you can be terminated in the stroke of a pen. Don't do anything stupid.

You have a grand and glorious career in front of you; it is in your grasp. Do not let the desire to be one of the group cloud your focus. I am not telling you to be a social outcast or the lone wolf. Socialization is very important in this brotherhood. But instead of sage advice I will tell you what an old sergeant told his recruits. If there's something you would not do at your parents' home after Sunday dinner, then don't do it! You know, that old Sarge could have taught a lot of us a thing or two.

Tags: Off-Duty Life


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