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  • New scenery

    I’m looking to take my experience with a larger department and possibly transfer to a smaller department with a better schedule and better equipment. Does anyone have any experience making a move like this? Was it hard getting adjusted or did you fit right in? Also does anyone have any recent experience with Hamilton or Hendricks County departments? I know there will be trade offs and I’m working on my own pros and cons list. Any insight would be appreciated.

  • #2
    There will be exceptions, I am sure, but there are some practical considerations that will probably have to be dealt with:

    1. The smaller the community the smaller the budget, the smaller the staff, the smaller the salaries and benefit plans, and the fewer the opportunities for advancement. Pension plans in particular can be "iffy" unless the community participates in a larger pool (such as a statewide public employees retirement account).

    2. The smaller the overall staff the fewer opportunities there will be for training, career development, and specialization. It can also be more difficult to schedule holiday or vacation time when the individual would like to have it, rather than whenever the service demands permit it.

    3. The smaller the department the fewer layers exist between the working cop and the political critters (mayor, city council, etc) and the more likelihood there will be interference and/or pressures applied to influence department affairs.

    4. The smaller the community the more visible every individual is, and individual choices and lifestyles can easily become topics of gossip or public debate. Public focus can easily go beyond "Joe the cop" to include Joe's wife, Joe's kids, Joe's friends, and certainly all of Joe's off-duty behavior.

    I started in Vietnam, when they couldn't think of anything else to do with a wounded airborne infantry sergeant so they put me in charge of a military police detachment. Left the Army and joined a 300-person police department, worked patrol, traffic, juvenile, property crimes, vice & narcotics. Hired on with a state agency and became the state's fraud & forgery expert. State political nonsense became intolerable, and I resigned to accept appointment as a small town police chief. Everything they say about small town politics is true (trust me on that) and I ended up taking early retirement after 6-1/2 years of grief (24 years as a cop).

    If I were starting out all over again I would have stayed as a patrolman, preferably on night shifts, or a mid-level property crimes detective for my entire career. The grass may look greener in other places, but you may find that it requires a lot more fertilizer than you wish to tolerate.

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