Years ago when I was young cop, POLICE magazine was known as "Police Product News." The old periodical had a police-centric, tasteful, clothed centerfold with that month's calendar and the quote, "Do you have court today?" This motif went by the wayside years ago for obvious reasons, but the importance of reminding you of court hasn't changed.

I don't know what kind of calendar, system or electronic device you have to keep you on track. Me? I'm still a paper calendar guy with ink scribbles all over it. Do I have any recommendations? No, because we're all different, and I don't know what works for you. Find a method and stick to it!

I have officers with the latest phone gadgets with all the bells and whistles. They have alarms, reminders and probably self-texting messages. Any technology created by man is susceptible to breaking down. A backup calendar in the locker or on the family bulletin board (refrigerator) may also help. It is not a bad thing for your spouse or significant other to ask you about court either.

A former captain in mine gave pocket calendars every holiday season. You know the ones that look like a checkbook and had the new upcoming year in it. None of us used them, but I asked him why give out calendars? He wanted to give something to his staff that was economical but useful. But also, when he had all of us in a meeting you better had known your schedule. The subliminal message was, "Be there and don't embarrass yourself."

The official reminder was to prepare and schedule your events (range, training and court) and life. Matter of fact, I used to give out calendars myself. Good reminder for all.

My many years of experience with officers reveal that I can usually predict your first discipline incident. You will probably miss court or some other non-reoccurring event and then you're left to explain "why, oh why" to some crusty old sergeant with no sense of humor. You're hard-charging, getting it done on the streets.

Off time becomes precious and you oversleep the alarm for court. Now, you have to explain that there is no explanation. The dog does not eat the subpoena. Take your lumps like a professional, and use it as a learning experience.

Get a system and stick to it. Working on rotating schedules and the balancing act of life is a juggling act. Add in court, range, training, kid's soccer game and birthdays, and it gets complicated. My role here is to remind you the job is not complete until the court testimony is done and the gavel falls. You getting there is up to you.

Author

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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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.

View Bio
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