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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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No Cutting Corners…Please!

Shortcuts in police work only create problems.

April 30, 2009  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Police officers can be their own worst enemy. Do us all a favor and do not take the easy way out; it just makes for more work in the long run. There are several shortcut traps out there. Your FTO should tell you about them, but just in case….

Write All Required Reports

I know more than anyone how much a pain in the rear paperwork can be, so don't even go there. I was told of a call where an officer rode a business alarm call, regular cookie cutter stuff. However, he happened upon a perp that was wanted. So to make life easier for himself, he placed the warrant arrest on the alarm call information report. Let me say this now: Don't shortcut yourself.

After a few minutes of digging around, the supervisor caught the combination report and Junior had to rewrite the first report and write a second one. If he had done this at the onset, there would have been no fussing, no fuming, no mess, just an arrest.

This is a common mistake of trying to put as much as you can on a report. Your agency pays you to produce; they give you paper or a computer, then go pay you for your time. Don't compromise your work with shoddy performance.

Make the Right—Not the Easy—Call

My FTO Steve Hood (God rest him) rode a call with me that taught me a valuable lesson. We had a guy passed out in a bar's restroom. All indications were that of alcohol poisoning due to the amount we concluded he had consumed. The bar owners dismissed the man as a drunk, and the ambulance crew passed on the call. But Steve knew better. He and I loaded the guy up and took him to a local emergency room. We briefed the nurse there and I had to write a report on this major case.

The next day I was called by detectives. It seems that the poor guy expired in the ER from alcohol poisoning. Now, if I had dismissed the case or done just a miscellaneous report, there would have been trouble. It is regrettable that this man expired, but his passing taught me a valuable lesson. Now you've been taught the lesson as well.

Utilize Human Information

When you try to downplay a call or a report, only bad things are going to happen. I view what the public tells us as human information. It can be a valuable resource to investigations and intelligence if we handle it appropriately. I have many stories of officers who were given information by nosey neighbors about some neighborhood issues but just let it drop. This is a missed opportunity.

Just because a nice little lady doesn't look like an informant doesn't mean she can't provide valuable intel. If she comes to you with information, she probably knows her neighborhood. She knows who drives what, when they leave for work, and who is doing what. There are countless stories about good intel that fell through the cracks because we did not listen or downplayed it. This little lady may not seem like the shady informant you see in the movies, but she might possess more information than you can gather elsewhere.

Do your job with care and concern; don't take a shortcut, for it will only entail more work. And don't let information slip past you. The information of today may make that case for you next week.

Train with drive and your future goals in mind.

Tags: Ethics


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