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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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Preparing Yourself for Duty

Prepare yourself for duty by taking care of the little things.

November 12, 2012  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of William Harvey.
Photo courtesy of William Harvey.

When I talk with recruits, many have the same question. How do you remember to do all of this stuff? When I ask what they mean, they answer that they must have constant readiness no matter what comes up, respond to a call in matter of minutes, or that they must know what to bring. Granted these and several other questions are answered with the word of experience. So how do you get this experience?

I got my dose of experience in U.S. Army basic training back in the '70s. As much as I hated it, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me to prepare me for life. For those of my readers who are military veterans, thank you for your service. You fully understand what these little lessons are about. For those of you who have never served, let me give you a brief insight.

I don't care how tired you are when you get off. You set up your uniform and your equipment. Minutes are precious before the next shift. Sleep is still on your mind, so the finer details are taken care of. No fumbling with changing name tags and those back clasps (a.k.a. damits). What if you got called in for a major case? You are en route and squared away.

After days off, I still have the same routine I had since my military police days. Boots are polished. Weapons are checked. Paperwork and other equipment is set and ready to go. The uniform is ready. I can wake up the next morning. All is done, and it's a smooth sail into work. Knowing how things can go, the toast will be burnt, coffee will be is too weak, the kids are not cooperating, and traffic is backed up. So goes life. The police set up is done, so you have one less reason to be late for work and one less reason to be frustrated to start the day. I mentioned weapons checked, so this also means routine cleaning and maintenance.

Planning is simple, it takes minutes to avoid hours of frustration. I stay amazed at those who don't listen or catch the weather reports. You don't tune in and you go off in the cold, rainy morning. If you listened to the weather dude, you may have worn a long sleeve uniform shirt. If it's raining, take a towel to dry off and the hat cover as well. Put them together. While you're listening to the radio or television when getting ready for the weather report, have you noticed that they also have highway reports? Listen and apply, don't just get up, drive in, and show up. Be prepared for the tour of duty at hand.

Going into night shift or the seasons change, you'll have to have some time in the dark. Check your flashlights for a charge and whether you need batteries.

Schedules are no different. You have to prepare your time just as you prepare your equipment. Next time you go to training, there will always be someone coming in the door. They are flustered because they forgot it was training today. It has only been posted on the shift calendar for six months. They are having a hissy fit for they did not get a sitter or they had to call off other plans. They forgot.

With all of the gadgets with calendars, there's no reason not to know. Years ago, we had pocket calendars, notes on the refrigerator, work calendars on the desk, in the patrol car and in the locker. Now, it's in your pocket synchronized with pay sheets, staffing reports, and the like. No excuses.

There are many other little tidbits of getting along. Most of you will learn by experience, which is just as tough a teacher as a drill sergeant. Learn, apply and be successful but share the knowledge to the next generation. Success should be contagious.

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