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Scandal in the police workplace? Let's start by shining our boots.

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  • Scandal in the police workplace? Let's start by shining our boots.

    Although nobody asked...I have an opinion to share...

    My 30 year career path with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) had me up against two major scandals that were very headline worthy.

    In December of 1981 I had two co-workers arrested on-duty for committing a burglary, at the scene of a business alarm, with an open door, on which I had backed them up. The arrest was the culmination of an Internal Affairs (IA) sting & stakeout. The ensuing investigation went on to comb through every matted mess of the involved officers’ activities, both on and off-duty, which showed a clear pattern of neglect of duty while on the clock, and off-duty activities which included heavy drinking and relationships with prostitutes.

    You should know that I was not, by any stretch of the imagination, squeaky clean. My offenses were ultimately minor, in comparison to the other ten cops and sergeants who would end up arrested, fired, and/or resigned. I escaped without any suspensions, but would live under the cloud of shame which descended upon Hollywood Division, and remained there for some years. I was also distrusted by some cops, who thought I’d informed on the others.

    Later, as a sergeant in 2002, after a six-year tour in a downtown administrative assignment, I returned to LAPD Rampart Patrol, in the aftermath of the Ray Perez/CRASH scandal which cost the city millions in damages, and destroyed any good name the division may have enjoyed. The shooting and framing of innocent people, the major theft of drugs from the police property room, the holding and beating of gang members to, “teach them a lesson”, has a tendency to cause a breakdown of confidence in the police among the populace.

    But now, let’s break down the numbers. In Hollywood’s case, ten bad cops working Hollywood would have represented only five percent of the team members. For those of you non-police types reading this, you have to know that among those ten were those who were avoided, mistrusted, and outright disliked and perhaps hated by many of the other cops assigned there.

    Despite what many police critics might think, police are not the instantly homogenous group, once the academy badge-pinning ceremony is complete. At one point, in LAPD Internal Affairs’ statistic keeping, cop-on-cop complaints greatly outnumbered the community-generated complaints coming in.

    Moving forward to the 2002 Rampart aftermath, the percentage would be even less of active participants in criminal acts or major misconduct when compared to the work force. Yet, in the case of Hollywood, Rampart, and any other LAPD working group anywhere bad cops have been found, it is the remaining work group, and those who backfill any loss who must bear some sort of scarlet letter, branding them as dirty as the ones already cast out of their midst.

    When I returned to Rampart patrol in 2002, I saw police officers seemingly shell shocked by both media bias and in-house LAPD political gaming. One of the first things I noticed was that in the immediate wake of the initial scandal, was that suddenly awarding of the “Officer(s) of the Quarter” had stopped. The perpetual plaque, kept in the hallway, which recognized hard working police officers was blank, for about two years.

    Did quality police work suddenly stop? Not likely. It might be argued that the station commanding officer was too busy constantly putting out fires and unable to commend any good work being done. That’s too bad. What is also too bad is that no one below his or her rank took up the task of recognizing good work and good workers. It is vital work which needs to be done.

    Away from LAPD I was involved in Officer.com where police from other parts of the country, if not the world, talked about scandals…among them, a co-worker who faked his own being shot while on-duty,

    Retiring from LAPD and moving to Colorado had me eventually becoming a small town police chief. I took over a department which had its own scandals, tragedy and (some might say) mismanagement at the hands of a candidate with no clear vision of what needed to be done.

    To say the place was filthy and cluttered would be accurate. To say morale was lacking would also be true. It needed cleaning up in physical looks, personal mental health & wellness and department morale.

    So what can you, as a chief, a supervisor, or another officer do?


    Start by polishing your boots. Start by making a personal commitment to looking your best and providing service to the public, daily, which is just one percent better than you did the previous day. If you and the rest of the department raise your duty performance by just one percent daily…in just a year, you’ve raised your effectiveness by 365%.

    Clean up your workplace as well. Patch the holes. Paint the walls and trim. Shampoo the carpet. Reduce clutter and purge the place of cobwebs and dust bunnies. Spray the Windex, the Formula 409 wipe vigorously. Box up ancient files and find alternative storage options. Old obsolete equipment needs to be stored elsewhere or given to a museum.

    When is the last time anyone was “recognized” in your place? Do you have a recognition program? If not, revive or create one. Go back a decade, or two, if needed. Police departments are full of cops who were overlooked by (so-called) leaders who had bad attitudes about recognition. Usually bitter because they never got recognized, they pass that practice on to those who worked for them. Those people are gone. Fix their mistakes without naming or shaming them, but let the current work force know that you are going to see people are recognized for their good work. Ask who’s been overlooked. Fix it.

    What are your stats? How many arrests are made, how many tickets are written, how many public contacts are made by your employees which do not result in ANY use of force or complaint? Have those numbers constantly and readily available, as in. “This department made contact with _______ people in the last twelve months with force being used only __ times.”

    When having to discuss a current scandal, remind the public and the media that the employee or (worse) employees involved are but a small percentage of your team. Cite the number, thusly, “Officer ____ is only one of ___ employees working for this department. His/Her current situation does not reflect the overall daily way of doing business, here.” Stick up for the people who are still working there, and who have worked there before.

    I have known cops who have later been proven to have committed worker’s comp or other insurance fraud, outright stolen things, killed a spouse or other innocent soul, and even inappropriately touched a child. Those cops were hired from the same pool of candidates that your lifesavers and innovators were hired from. We hire from the human race and all the background investigations and psychological examinations have yet to exclude those who will betray the public trust.

    Our job is two-fold. First we work to fix the problem we have when confronted with a scandal and remind others that we have a whole team, here, who needs to be appreciated for what they do right and what they have done right. We start by shining our boots.
    Last edited by Kieth M.; 10-08-2018, 02:02 PM.
    "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

    Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

    Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

  • #2
    Can’t like THIS enough!
    Now go home and get your shine box!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
      Can’t like THIS enough!
      Thank you, very much
      "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

      Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

      Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

      Comment


      • #4
        Kieth,

        Your input is ALWAYS spot on. Please keep posting your views.

        Us Dinosaurs appreciate it.
        Now go home and get your shine box!

        Comment


        • #5
          I have to go plagiarize this and post on another forum. I will give you credit, though.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well said, Kieth M.

            Who knows? Someday, you might even qualify for a real job!

            Yeah, I know; right back at ya!
            #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
            Proud Dad of #54266 - RCMP - 2007-02-12 to date
            RCMP Veterans Association - Regina Division member
            Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada - Associate (Retired) member
            "Smile" - no!

            Comment


            • #7
              Very well written, Chief. Much respect to you.

              I’ve long felt that by necessity, the majority of cops we hire are not, could not, and should not be angels. LOL. My hope is the process seeks good, regular, decent, and flawed individuals who will try to do it right, and will try to focus on the ideals that we have been lucky enough to be in a position to help some and correct some, all who really need us out there.

              i also believe in housekeeping. When we are neat and clean, it helps us maintain the pride in doing what is right, I can’t tell you how many station houses I’ve seen that were absolutely filthy and chaotic. I feel this is a messsage from the top down that employee health doesn’t matter,...and this may carry out in the field in the way staff interacts with the public.

              Cops need feedback. It’s practically on par with getting raises. Becuase it’s the only way we know if we really are doing it right in the eyes of our bosses. No feedback, and staff starts to push boundaries. I’ve seen this type of thing act like water and fertilizer on individual officer selfishness. Selfishness is probably the biggest negative trait I’m seeing now.

              I’m thinking if our managers do a little bit of old school- Here are my expectations, and good job for following them, and let’s clean and repair our house, and Don’t act like a jerk.....selfish behavior WILL be reduced. Even by a bit.

              Thank you for healing that office, Chief. Respect.

              Rick

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Rick Shaw View Post
                Cops need feedback. It’s practically on par with getting raises. Becuase it’s the only way we know if we really are doing it right in the eyes of our bosses. No feedback, and staff starts to push boundaries. I’ve seen this type of thing act like water and fertilizer on individual officer selfishness. Selfishness is probably the biggest negative trait I’m seeing now.
                I'd expand that by saying that cops need CONSTRUCTIVE feedback. There are too many "leaders" (that is, people in management positions...too few are true leaders) whose "feedback" consists of nasty group emails that destroy morale and do nothing to help their officers follow the right path and succeed. Officers need to be publicly praised for doing good and privately CONSTRUCTIVELY corrected when they screw up.
                "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
                -Friedrich Nietzsche

                Comment


                • #9
                  Great post, Keith.
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                  In 2017, the sales of my LEO related decals allowed me to donate over $350. to LE/ Military related charities... THANK YOU!!! Check them out HERE...

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                  • #10
                    Very well written, clearly you know what it means to be a leader.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I worked with Kieth during that time in 2002 and can say he is 100% correct. It was definitely a tough time and he helped to make it better.

                      Thank you for everything you did during that time we worked together. I hope you are doing well out there in CO.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks, Mike. I'm not here much anymore. I hope you get out of LA in one piece and soon.

                        If Gavin Newsom take the governor's office, he'll be like Jerry Brown on steroids and meth. It will be an even tougher time for California cops.
                        "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

                        Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

                        Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.

                        Comment

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