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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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Show Your Pride with a Professional Image

Polish your professional appearance with regular rituals.

July 18, 2011  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

I've often said that most things that are important to me in life I learned in the Army. I wasn't a lifer and only did one hitch. Army lessons are learned for life (or death, if you're in combat), are drilled into your psyche.

Do you know an officer who always looks disheveled and doesn't project the professional appearance we seek in this profession? No names, please. This officer must be reminded to shine his shoes or clean her firearm. The officer's entire operation is often a wreck. What's wrong? The officer lacks discipline, which comes from proper routines that make the tradition of preparation and creating pride.

When you're a private in the Army's Military Police Corps, there's not much to do around the barracks on Sunday afternoon. You may have blown your spending money the night before, and realize you have formation at some ungodly time, such as "O'dark 30." You won't have time to do anything but get yourself up and get to it. You must be ready.

My Sunday afternoons involved shining Corcoran jump boots, starching uniforms for the week, shining brass, and cleaning equipment. You did it telling stories of the prior night's adventures and getting ready to face the week. Police work is no different. The day before you start a shift rotation should be spent preparing.

I no longer live in barracks, and life is better than it was then. Every Sunday afternoon I still have my ritual — uniform, boots, brass, and equipment. After this many years, I have it down to a fine art.

We don't have to iron our uniforms today, because most are "wash and wear" or dry-cleaned. Just take them out of the closet or locker, and place all the devices on the shirt. Footwear can be factory shiny shoes or boots that require polish. Get the devices for the uniform (such as shield, name tags, ribbons, and collar brass) shiny and in place. Equipment is checked and ready for application and use. I'm the guy who could wear out a firearm by over cleaning it, but it hasn't happened yet.

I'm emphasizing the following point — manage your time, so you can maximize your performance. Learn to manage the little things, which are the foundation for more important things in life. Preparation for duty equates to pride in yourself and your performance. Preparation sends the message that you're a professional and a force to be reckoned with.

Criminals often size up an officer before deciding whether to attack. When you send a message that you're a prepared professional, you may avoid a street fight and never know it. So before you start a shift schedule, sit down with a cup of coffee, get out the polish and start your own tradition. Hooah!

Tags: Professional Image, Military-related


Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Andrew @ 7/19/2011 6:35 PM

Weird that CHP shirts are the graphic for this article. Most CHP officers I've seen wear faded leather, don't use earpieces (weird since they're on the freeway) and have ancient equipment.

NYCOPPER @ 7/20/2011 4:55 AM

The CHP is probably one of the most professional agencies in the nation. They have one of the most difficult training academies in the US and have been known to set the standard for other agencies worldwide. And what does "using an earpiece" have to do with looking professional? Easy there tactical Andrew!

Hank G. @ 7/20/2011 10:27 AM

I'm one of the old farts and have worn uniforms for over forty years. It is very disappointing to see the younger officers show up for work looking like they just finished mowing the yard.
I bought a full length mirror for the ready room and put stick on labels on it to ask: is your uniform pressed, are your boots shined, is your brass polished, is your hair neat and or trimmed, etc.
I thought it was a good idea, most of the guys ignored it.
Oh, well.

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