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Patrol

What I Learned From 25 Years of Police Work

Follow these six tenets for a successful law enforcement career.

September 06, 2013  |  by Craig Medon

Photo courtesy of Craig Medon.
Photo courtesy of Craig Medon.
A couple of months before I retired as a patrol officer from a suburban Detroit police department, I took on the challenge of training a new recruit. During that training, I passed on to the recruit some of the most important lessons that sustained me through my career and kept me motivated to cross the finish line to retirement.

I'd like to continue to pass along these lessons so other officers can benefit from what I've learned. Here are six core tenants to follow.

Do your job to the best of your ability. We've all heard the saying that it's not about steering the ship in calm waters, it's about steering the ship during rough seas. Regardless of what's taking place around you, strive to perform at your best. I've also learned that taking shortcuts can come back to haunt us.

Follow your moral compass. Along with a badge, police work comes with a lot of power that causes a few officers to think that they're immune and above the average citizenry. Ask yourself, "If I do what I'm considering, would I want my family to know about it?" If something doesn't feel right, avoid it.

Be careful what you say and to whom. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy when we don't think before we speak. When that happens, we later regret what we've said. Seek out someone you can completely trust and confide in.

Propose solutions, rather than dwelling on challenges. Is the glass half empty or is it full? We all know officers who complain about anything and everything. They don't take any action to improve their situation. Seeing ourselves as part of the solution and not the problem is important in improving ourselves as well as our police agencies.

There's no "I" in team. This is about taking care of each other in times of need because sooner or later you'll need the help of another co-worker. Comradery and bonding on a given shift strengthen this concept when it's carried out by fellow officers. It's about an officer taking a call for you so you can go to lunch. Perhaps you need someone from another shift to come in early to cover a few hours so you can leave. It's a great feeling knowing that officers will step up and help you because they know you'll do the same for them.

Embrace change. When I started police work, there were no computers, patrol rifles, cameras, defibrillators or kinetic energy impact weapons in patrol cars. Officers didn't carry cell phones and reports and tickets were handwritten. My duty weapon was a .357 Magnum six-shot revolver and fingerprints were taken with ink. Companies and organizations change to remain competitive as well as to deliver improved products and services. Policing is no different. While change sometimes isn't easy for cops, know that the world around us is always changing. Even an old dog can learn a new trick.

Craig Medon retired from the Auburn Hills (Mich.) Police Department.

Tags: Retired Officers, How-To Guides, Career Advancement, Leadership, Auburn Hills (Mich.) PD


Comments (21)

Displaying 1 - 21 of 21

Ofc West @ 9/7/2013 8:23 AM

I am a very lucky police officer because I had the opportunity to be trained by Craig and to have worked along side of him. Truly a man dedicated to his country, community, and his family. Enjoy your retirement, you have earned it honorably brother.

protectthebadge.com @ 9/7/2013 9:09 AM

Very true. Thanks officer Medon https://www.facebook.com/pages/Protectthebadgecom/399028766826722

PSO Harp @ 9/7/2013 10:38 AM

Big thanks to Craig for instilling his professionalism, integrity, work ethic and most of all his unfailing positivity into all of us that ever worked beside him. I can say that my 7 years of being a dispatcher for you were an absolute pleasure. Thank you for all that you have left behind! This is a retirement that is well deserved.

Dan @ 9/7/2013 10:43 AM

Great advice, and should be tought as part of police training, in college and elsewhere.

David Matheson @ 9/7/2013 3:59 PM

I'm thinking the writer meant six "TENETS", not "tenants" ??

Allan Smith @ 9/7/2013 10:48 PM

I did 32 years before I hung it up, and wish I had known all of that when I started. I especially wish I had learned the lesson of keeping Your mouth shut. Law Enforcement is full of alpha males and it takes a lot off deplomacy to get along.

Craig Medon @ 9/7/2013 10:51 PM

David, the portion of the article that you refer to was added by Police Magazine and not the author.

Kirk Lear @ 9/8/2013 7:14 PM

I served with Craig on the Air Force Emergency Services Team for a short period in the Philippines.

Daniel Joe Payne @ 9/9/2013 7:29 AM

I had the pleasure of meeting Craig when I was a young State Trooper assigned to the Ypsilanti Post. Even then it was evident that Craig stood apart from the other ride alongs. He was focused, driven, sophisticated beyond his years, motivated and relentless in his desire to learn every aspect of the job. Knowing Craig was watching and listening to every little thing you did actually made me and those that had Craig as a ride along better officers.

Karl de la Guerra @ 9/10/2013 7:00 AM

I too had the honor of serving with Craig in the Air Force on the Emergency Service Team at Clark Air Base in the Philippines during the mid 1980's. From looking at the comments here, it seems that Craig has not lost any of the enthusiasm and love of the job that he had back then. Goes to show that true blue never goes away! Congratulations on your retirement Craig.

Hugh Brien @ 9/10/2013 10:05 AM

I'm retired 25 years. Well done Craig!!

bob retired leo @ 9/10/2013 7:55 PM

Craig: reading your pointers, it sent me back to my start in 1975. Like you said we had no computers, old type Motorola radios that were bulky and heavy, files and reports stored in file cabinets and file cards and reports typed numerous times after our many mistakes. I carried a S&W 6 round 38 with two drop six pouches and off duty a 5 shot SW revolver. I hope you dont mind me printing your remembrances and passing them along.

bob retired leo @ 9/10/2013 7:56 PM

Craig: reading your pointers, it sent me back to my start in 1975. Like you said we had no computers, old type Motorola radios that were bulky and heavy, files and reports stored in file cabinets and file cards and reports typed numerous times after our many mistakes. I carried a S&W 6 round 38 with two drop six pouches and off duty a 5 shot SW revolver. I hope you dont mind me printing your remembrances and passing them along.

Craig Medon @ 9/10/2013 9:50 PM

Not at all. Thanks, Bob!

Becky Holliday @ 9/11/2013 5:16 AM

Craig, very well put. I have 20 years experience as an officer and 4 years as a teacher of law enforcement services for high school students. I too remember those old days of revolvers and hand writing reports. I'm glad thats over. I tell my students about the old times and how much easier it is today with all the technology. Even though we have it better now days I still make my students learn the old way, I think it gives them a better appreciation for the technology. Thanks for your service God Bless.

George Duffey @ 9/12/2013 10:02 AM

Congratulations on your Retirement. I am staring retirement in the face with mixed emotions. I will retire in December with 30 1/3 years of paid service, proceeded by 1 year service as non-paid Reserve Police Officer & 2 years as non-paid Volunteer Firefighter for same agency. I hope to wean myself by remaining a non-paid Reserve Police Officer after I retire. Retirees Take Care & Be Safe.

Bman @ 9/25/2013 3:07 PM

I love hearing how the old days were. When I can get my granddad to open about the really old days, I sit in awe listening to how much you could do without doing paperwork and losing cases. It sounds like the CYA has gone up 500% and that might be what forced a lot of the technology changes. I cant wait to go see the museum in D.C. so I can get a better look at what the tools were like back im the day.

Howard R. Toliver @ 9/25/2013 4:00 PM

Congratulations on making it to your retirement. I remember coming into law enforcement in '89. Wheel guns and Motorola "brick" radios were the order of day. You offer sound advice to approaching this thing called being the police. I can never say it enough, be careful of what you say and to whom! The advancement of technology has made the job much easier, yet I stress situational awareness and plain common sense in doing your job. I hope that you continue to share your experiences to future law enforcement via teaching.

Dennis Salb @ 9/25/2013 7:34 PM

Great words of wisdom for any one pursuing any career. I too have retired, but the six tenets reminded me of the great law enforcement team that I was once a part of. Stay safe to all of you still fighting the good fight!

Steve Bukala @ 9/26/2013 3:21 AM

I too had the pleasure of working with Craig back in the DARE days planning the state conferences. You make me feel old now! Retirement? You have 10 good years left in you. Whenever you want, I have a position waiting for you here. Enjoy your time with the family, it is well deserved.

D sentz @ 9/27/2013 7:14 AM

Well put.

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