Command, Morale, and Humor in Dark Times

Some levity would be good right around the time you send your troops off into the wilderness to fight crime, write reports, and say inappropriate things over an open microphone.

Doug Wyllie Crop Headshot

You're standing at the podium in the briefing room. It's mids, so you have some rock-and-rollers seated in front of you—all piss and vinegar and eager for the tour.

It's the worst out there. You've had to deal with crowd control issues, blatantly false accusations against your officers, deliberately heavy-handed anti-police proposals from elected leaders, and a general distrust of your officers fanned by misleading and exaggerated stories in the national mainstream media.

You've got a fleeing felon in a Honda who allegedly beat the living daylights out of his girlfriend late last night. You've got three teenagers who allegedly raped a young girl two nights ago, and a distraught mother in your lobby demanding justice. You've got two men in their early 20s who mixed it up at Pappy's Pub last night and got themselves arrested for assault.

Oh, and then there's the COVID.

You say, "Glove up. Mask up. Stay safe."

You're at the podium speaking to your troops, and they are intently listening to you. You've got five bars on your forearm.

You've been doing this stuff for a long time.

Some of the guys and gals you now lead can tell stories of your grit and your grind.

Some of them weren't even born when you graduated the academy.

So, you're saying "It's Wilson and Mitchel in Alpha 45. It's Baker and Smith in Fox 20…"

Then you realize that these young officers already know their assignments and their zones and the dangers they face on the streets. They know that stuff probably better than you do—you're command staff with 30-plus years on the department, but 10 years from patrol. These young men and women in your briefing room are your adopted children.

The briefing continues. Increase in car burgles and heists at overnight gas stations. Man wanted for a DV call who fled the scene in a grey Chevy before officers arrives.

It's the typical gloom and doom.

Some levity would be good right around the time you send your troops off into the wilderness to fight crime, write reports, and say inappropriate things over an open microphone.

Here are some of my favorite little one-liners for command staff to deliver to lighten the mood and boost morale.

Nothing Doing

Someone broke into the local police station and stole all the toilets.

Cops now reportedly say they have nothing to go on.

Running Man

Guy is panting and sweating as he's taken into custody. He says, "I wasn’t planning on going for a run today, but those cops came out of nowhere."

Chuck Norris

Police pull over a car driven by Chuck Norris for a traffic violation. The cops get the ticket and Norris drives off unabated.


An officer conducts a traffic stop on a guy for going 75 in a 55 zone.

Officer says, "Do you know how fast you were going?"

"I was trying to keep up with traffic," the motorist replies.

The officer looks around and sees no other vehicles on the road and says, "But there is no traffic."

The driver says, "That's how far behind I am."

Drug Test

An officer encounters a man clearly under the influence of a controlled substance. The cop says to the guy, "We're going to have to administer a drug test." The inebriated man says in quick reply, "Cool, which drugs are we testing."

Final Words

These are tricky and troubling times. People are literally losing their minds out there under these lockdown restrictions. Lonely men and women are looking at Christmas Day with sheer dread. As a police leader—Chief, Captain, Lieutenant, or Patrol Sergeant—you need to keep in mind that just a little levity prior to putting your officers into that crazy stew of ugliness in today's world could be what brings them back to the station unharmed.

About the Author
Doug Wyllie Crop Headshot
Contributing Editor
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