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Police Dept's and politics.


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  • Police Dept's and politics.


    I'm sorry to create a somewhat similar post to one that is currently active on this forum, but I was afraid that by responding to it, I would be banned. So, I thought I would ask this way.

    Anyway's, I was just curious what exactly "the politics" are that everyone is referring to that exist within a PD. Also, is there anyway to spot these PRIOR to getting hired on with a specific department?

    I would love to get some feedback if you guys wouldn't mind.

    Thanks much!

    P.s. Does these same politics exist during the police academy?

  • #2
    With some Police Departments specially smaller agencies politics a lot of the time is the Chief wants to keep the Mayor, City Council, Citizens, happy so he can keep his job. With that being said if you keep the people in the town happy they don't complain to the to all these people and they doesn't get rid of the Chief. With a lot of smaller departments people want to see you when it's convenient for them, or when your bothering the other guy. People expect to call you at home a lot of the time when your off duty to answer their questions, just to chat, or when the neighbors dog is on their lawn they expect you to be there in two minutes. (Most small towns people love to call the cops on dogs.)

    Then there will be times you pull someone over they get a ticket or get arrested and the first thing they will throw in your face is I know the Chief or Mayor. People think a lot of times just because they know your boss your going to let them off with a warning or let them take care of their warrant later. Not to say it doesn't happen like that some times, but if your doing your job that's not suppose to be how it works. After you give them a ticket or arrest them your getting called into the office the next day by the Chief to explain what happen the day before.

    People complain to the Mayor about anything and everything and in turn the Mayor tells the Chief to fix the problem. The Sheriff's office I worked at before I came to my current department we had contract time in cities(Meaning we were their police department for so many hours a week). People would complain about anything and everything. I only saw the deputy once last night, I saw him 5 times last night, he drives to slow, he drives too fast, you name it people would call. Bottom line is with most police departments, if the Mayor, City Council (Elected Officials), or public it serves, isn't happy with the Chief, they will get a new Chief. And for some reason if they can't get rid of the Chief they control the money that goes into the department and they can make life really tough for the department.
    Some people were just dropped on their heads as children more than the rest of us!


    • #3
      There are all sorts of things that can fall under the category of politics.

      Many years ago, the Berkeley, California city council did not want its police department to enforce the marijuana laws. The problem was, if they ordered them not to do so and the police complied, it would constitute a conspiracy to obstruct justice, which is a felony in California. So instead, they wrote language in the police department's budget specifically stating that no funding was included for the enforcement of marijuana laws.

      If a tourist city is experiencing a crime wave that could scare off visitors and in turn, hurt the local economy, the mayor may pressure the Chief of Police to under-report crimes, For example, a strong arm robbery might be reported as a simple battery and theft. The value of a stolen item might be judged to be much lower, taking it from grand theft to petty theft.

      Similarly, preferential treatment may be demanded. If a city council member's child is arrested, they may expect their kid to be slipped out the back door of the station with no charges. Or if the Mayor is found to be DUI, you may be expected to drive her home rather than arrest her. Sometimes it goes the other way. Once in a while you will get a city official who wants to jump in the patrol car with you and throw everyone in jail that looks at you cross-eyed.

      Then there's the politics of prosecutors and judges. Cops know that there are certain prosecutors and judges who don't believe in prosecuting certain crimes, while there are others who believe in throwing the book at folks who violate the tiniest of laws. You quickly learn which prosecutors to take certain cases to, which prosecutors to avoid, which judges to pray you get and which ones you hope call in sick that day.

      The list goes on and on.

      But what Nebraska Deputy said about getting a new chief when the city council or mayor are unhappy is very true. On average, a Chief only lasts for about two years before he moves on. (Again, this is an average - some last longer, some go shorter.) When first hired, the majority of the city council are usually in agreement that they have selected the best person to be chief. But as time goes on, the make up of the city council changes. New members are voted in and out at each election, the mayor changes and often a new city manager will be hired. As these folks change, the group's philosophy changes as well. All of a sudden, the mayor, city council and city manager who thought the chief was the best guy in the world, have been replaced by a different mayor, city council and city manager, who think completely differently and can't understand why the old group hired this idiot to be their chief of police in the first place. Now, the chief who has been told he is doing a wonderful job for the past two years gets handed his walking papers because he is incompatible with the new council's "philosophy."

      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


      • #4
        L-1 & ND gave excellent examples of dept./city politics & these things DO affect the frontline officer in a big way. I think, though, you're more interseted in the day-to-day "politics" as they pertain to frontline officers.
        Those type of politics can be more maddening than what was talked about as they have an immediate effect on you doing your job. Things like "losing" transfer requests, not announcing a transfer/promotion opportunity, being denied an assignment because you're not some supervisors friend all exist and can rarely be proven to file a complaint. Even if you do, the "politics" of it is that the supervisors will stick together and side with each other (generally) before they find in a patrolman's favor. If you do get to transfer, like any organization, people talk, and if you've ******ed off someone they'll let your next boss know what a POS you are ---and if you mind your own business you'll be labeled an outsider, so you really have to walk a fine line.
        How do you avoid it? I haven't a clue! I wasn't one of those "golden children" so I was in Patrol my whole career. In terms of avoiding this stuff prior to hiring, do lots of ride-alongs, ask alot of questions and pay REAL close attention to what ISN'T being said when you're there..


        • #5
          In one agency I worked for many years ago, a whole new catagory of crime was created by the agency. Breaking into a motor vehicle was classified by statute as a catagory of Burglary, and thus a felony. Such many of these crimes occurred, the dept created a new catagory of crime: Theft from Motor Vehicle. It could be a felony depending on the value of the articles taken. The former catagory was a felony everytime it took place. Happens quite often, and is very much "politics" generated.


          • #6
            Beyond the 'politics' described by the relationship between the police and elected/appointed officials, there's the politics of the department itself.

            Your question asks if, "the politics exist in the academy."

            Yes, the chief and administration can have fair-haired children and red-headed step-children. Like any dysfunctional 'family' people will crave attention, favors, and promotion by doing everything except working for it.

            There's a phenomenon called, 'the halo effect' where one employee has done something, once, and it was a great thing. They live off that act and it's recognition for years. Back in thte Los Angeles area, sometimes, it was being a Baker-to-Vegas runner/support team member. A one-time medal recipient for a department can milk that award for the remainder of their career. Command officers can have a harem....a line of tail-kissers....a ring of hangers on, who will follow him/her anywhere and everywhere. They will be the ones who get the choice assignments, the promotions, the special training experiences, the recommendations. It's all inter-office politics.
            "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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