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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.
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Don't Make Me Lie for You

Avoid the pitfalls of late nights, hot suppers, and other questionable behavior after hours.

February 20, 2009  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Let me set some ground rules now for young recruits—and all cops, for that matter. I know the lifestyle young cops tend to lead, and have heard far too many stories, some hilarious and others tragic. But when it comes to integrity there's a point where you need to draw the line.

I know about the thin blue line, blue brotherhood—I bleed blue. You get into a fix, I will be the first one there. But if you are going out to party hearty with your colleagues, we need to talk.

If anyone knows about these little finer points of life it would be me. That being said, if anyone should warn you about these pitfalls it should be me.

I don't know what your police culture calls this late night cop fellowship. Some used to refer to it as choir practice, hot suppers, midnight court, and so forth. One thing is real here: There are consequences for your actions, and the reason I am throwing water in punch is that I have seen good cops' careers messed up over foolishness. Have a sober driver or cool head to keep you off the crazy train.

Go ahead and have a good time, but recall that cops do bring with them guns, edged weapons, and egos…this can be a volatile mix. Again, cool heads need to prevail here and old hats need to offer their sage advice. Designate a "safety officer" who can act as the bouncer or keep egos in check. Set ground rules for the fellowship; hey, it is your party and your career.

No, I am not a prude and, yes, I have been to my share of parties. But the last people you want showing up to your soiree are other police trying to quell it. Once that happens damage control is required, and later internal affairs is in your business. Think and be responsible. Do not put your brother and sister officers in a quandary about covering up for you due to your off-duty antics.

Don't make your supervisors lie for you either; it never works out. Calling the spouse or significant other and saying you are working overtime on midnights is one thing. But, then hitting the bricks to the club, or who knows where, is an invitation to disaster. Sooner or later, your spouse will notice there is no overtime on your check for the night you supposedly spent working, or they worry and call in asking where you are. Get it?

The reason for this evangelical column is that I have seen far too many young cops think they are cool and can do anything without getting caught. Sooner or later you will get a subpoena to divorce court because your buddy you covered for got caught. If not that, somebody gets an ego overload and you know the directions to internal affairs.

No, I am not trying to put a damper on the fun side of Copland. But let's avoid the pitfalls. It's dangerous enough being a cop; don't complicate life. I have seen my share of the good times and hope to live long enough to have a few more. It would be a dream for me to attend each of my reader's own hot suppers (Southern term). But, let's not get on the crazy train in doing it. I want each of you to have long, happy, rewarding, and safe careers. There is no need for a train wreck while having fun. Nuff said.

Train hard and live smart.

Tags: Ethics


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

drobbins @ 3/3/2009 1:09 PM

Unfortunately this is a message that needs to be constantly sent. I remember warning my guys about this very thing, only to see two of them end their careers over a night of "fun" just three weeks later. They adhered to the "work hard, play hard" philosophy and used it as a justification for the over-indulgences of their off-time lifestyle. Balance and moderation are the keys for our careers and lives, both at work and home, to be successful. Thanks for the reminder Bill.

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