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  • Experience before promotions

    Looking to hear some opinions on when you think an officer who wants to promote should start testing and when is too soon. The Sgts at my agency range in experience at the time of promotion from around 7-15 years, but at a nearby, slightly smaller agency the average is around 4-8 with their latest having 3.5 years experience.

    Our agency is very young in terms of experience due to a recent retirement wave, and in the next 5 years over 50% of the remaining officers will be at retirement age. This means that many more officers have been selected for special positions like FTO, Traffic, CID, etc. with less than 3 years experience because there has been a limited number of more senior officers either interested or qualified for the position. Should we start to expect younger Sgts as well?
    Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. - Romans 13

  • #2
    At my agency you can test for Sgt after three years. Its pretty dang hard to make it though. I first took the test after I had been there 4 years and even though I made the final eligibility list only a miracle would have gotten me promoted (I was 15th on list that only 4 were promoted from). Our system is set up to give extra points for seniority. When I finally got promoted (3rd try) I had over eight years in the agency. Just my opinion but most people with three or four years in just don't have enough experience to be an effective supervisor. I felt comfortable being a patrolman at that point but I believe I would have had problems as a Sgt. Not knocking anyone who made Sgt that early I just think the more experience you have the better.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by GCPD0171 View Post
      At my agency you can test for Sgt after three years. Its pretty dang hard to make it though. I first took the test after I had been there 4 years and even though I made the final eligibility list only a miracle would have gotten me promoted (I was 15th on list that only 4 were promoted from). Our system is set up to give extra points for seniority. When I finally got promoted (3rd try) I had over eight years in the agency. Just my opinion but most people with three or four years in just don't have enough experience to be an effective supervisor. I felt comfortable being a patrolman at that point but I believe I would have had problems as a Sgt. Not knocking anyone who made Sgt that early I just think the more experience you have the better.
      I would tend to agree with the above poster. Also in our agency, after three years you can take a promotional exam. Many officers have found themselves promoted with less than 5 years on the job. In my opinion, during the first five years as an officer you're still learning the job yourself. I think there's something to be said for putting in your time on the road, gaining that experience, and then becoming an effective supervisor.

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      • #4
        The California Highway Patrol require two years experience to be eligible for promotion. Most officers I have worked with feel that the time in grade should be expanded to five years of experience. I promoted after eighteen years.
        Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

        [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

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        • #5
          My agency says three years to promote to SGT. There have been and will be a select group of people who promote with 5 years or so. In my opinion, 8 years should be the minimum for both Detective and Sergeant. My thinking is, one doesn't even have a firm grasp on 'police work' until 5 years. Then add some for extra experience.

          If you're going to lead or investigate, you should really know what you are doing. I made the detective list with 8 years and I know I had a strong foundation of training and experience.

          scrubb
          “You sleep safe in your beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do you harm.”

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          • #6
            Ours was 18 months. Recently bumped up to 3 years.

            I think it should be 5 years. The more years the better.
            It takes a Wolf.......

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            • #7
              Experience before Promotions

              Alabama DPS requires three years of service in order to test for Corporal. Once a Corporal completes his/her six months probation in the new grade, technically, he's eligible to take the Sergeant's exam. The previously posted retirement cycles are a definite factor in promotions. I spent 14 years in grade before promoting to Corporal. Five years in grade as Corporal, and then four years a Sergeant prior to retiring

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              • #8
                Test as soon as you're eligible in order to get the experience in testing, find out what they're looking for.
                Three Stripes beats Four Aces.
                Retirement: You've Won the War when you're Paid to Stay at Home.

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                • #9
                  Here, only recently, the civil service commission changed the policy so that one had to have three years of experience in order to take the sergeant exam. Prior to that, you could test after your first, probationary year.

                  I don't think the experience matters as a rule of thumb. The person testing should be examined independently of years of service. I know less experienced officers who would make better sergeants than some of the very experienced officers. I FTO'd with a guy who had been there only two and a half years and was not a certified FTO, but he was probably the best in the agency at being an FTO (though I was his first and last probably) and he takes better command of scenes/incidents than people who have been there for five plus years.

                  The patrolman first class and corporal ranks are not actually ranking positions here. You get those stripes after five and then ten years of service. No test is required, but you will never surpass the "rank" of corporal without passing a sergeant's exam. We only have about four corporals only one of which is in patrol. Two are detectives and the third is the baliff.

                  We have very few employees in the four to ten year service range. For example, we have nine patroman on my shift, and the "senior" guy has only four years in. The sergeant only has ten years, and I don't know about the lieutenant. It's not much more than that though.

                  Regardless, you should start testing as soon as you are able so you will have experience in doing so and each test thereafter will be easier. Most of our questions are recycled here anyway.

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                  • #10
                    We are currently in the middle of contract negotiations and are changing the requirement to 5 years instead of 3. Also we are requiring the experience to be with our agency or one of equivalent size/workload.

                    I made it at 5 years on my first try, which in hindsight, I should have waited awhile. But then again, we had some real tools for Sgt's at the time. Example:

                    Sgt: Officer Valdez, front and center for inspection.
                    Ofc. Valdez: Okay Sarge, you're shirt is stained and not pressed. You're boots...
                    Sgt: No, no, no, dammit! I'm inspecting you!

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                    • #11
                      Promotions, in any organization should be based solely on the most qualified person, period. Street experience is probably the best teacher, but, some people are excellent "test takers" and therefore may score higher on a test but still not be the best for the job. Supervisory roles in law enforcement require tons more responsibility and liability than most jobs, be careful what you wish for, you might get it. Stay Safe.
                      law dog

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                      • #12
                        I'd rather work for a level-headed, down-to-earth, reasonable, well-adjusted boss, who knows how to communicate and empathize with subordinates, who has NEVER been a police officer, than I would for an "experienced" self-centered jerk who thinks he's God's gift to the department, feels he can do your job better than you and the three guys before you, puts a target on the back of anyone who disagrees with him, takes any criticism of the department as a personal affront, promotes people based on how many times they've covered for him, expects you to be able to read his mind, acts like everyone else on the department is a supporting cast member, and whose only ambition his whole career was to be "in charge".

                        Good leadership often has very little to do with time on the job. It may buy you a little instant credibility, but that can be lost pretty quickly if you have the personality of a weasel.

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                        • #13
                          Test and interview as soon as you are able. It will be good experience for you.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cogslave View Post
                            Sgt: Officer Valdez, front and center for inspection.
                            Ofc. Valdez: Okay Sarge, you're shirt is stained and not pressed. You're boots...
                            Sgt: No, no, no, dammit! I'm inspecting you!
                            That's too friggin' funny...I would've paid money to see that!

                            Here at LAPD, now after three years of field experience, verified by affidavit, you may test to promote to FTO, sergeant, or detective.

                            Recently, however, they just promoted a nine year guy with maybe 18 months in the field, to the rank of lieutenant. That should be very interesting to watch. He's a nice guy, I wish him well, but I wonder what message it sends to others who do the dirty work.
                            "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.

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                            • #15
                              I currently have 3.5 years on and to avoid the moanings and groanings of some of the senior officers who have struggled with the test, but still want the job, I think I will wait until at least that 5 year mark to start testing to get a little more experience on the street. It seems to take most of the applicants a few tries to score high enough on the test and we don't promote officers very often, so it would probably be year 7 or 8 before having success. Thanks all for your imput.
                              Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. - Romans 13

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