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Small Town Officers Under The Microscope

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  • Small Town Officers Under The Microscope

    I just interviewed for a full time position in the same small town I live in. I know that in a small town, I'll be watched more closely. My question is, has anyone ever felt that the pressure is too much at times? Is it more hassle than it's worth to live in the same village you work in? I'm kind of tossed on the idea right now. With the economy the way it is, I can't afford to turn down a decent offer, but my mind is weighing the pros and cons on this job.
    My village has about 1500 people, 2 bars and one police car.

  • #2
    Used to work (first civilian LE job) at a very small Marshal's Office. Basically a regular road cop. I would arrest someone for DUI and they would bond out and get home before I did LOL. You would see people you arrested every day at the gas station, or the store. It was a town I grew up in and eventually my wife and I learned to take our weekends and vacations other places. I left the department after a few years for bigger and better things but it also has its advantages. On more than one occasion we had citizens just step in to help because they knew me and knew that backup was a long way off. I would never work for a department that small again but I also miss parts of it. Good luck!
    "Life is pain, marked only at intervals in which the pain is less severe!"... <--yep, I said that!

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    • #3
      [To clarify the below, not an LEO, do training and volunteer work below. Just noticed that hte writing may give an impression which would be inaccurate without context and wanted to state that outright.]

      To echo the above. EVERYONE knows the chief here. They know where he lives and most folks who count know his home phone too.

      He likes it that way.

      People regularly call him directly to complain. And that counts for anything associated to the department as well, such as volunteer teams.

      Its a strong incentive to stay within policy and be accountable for our actions but sometimes its a real pain because of course the side the chief gets and then gets filtered down the chain is the cranky complaint side, not the whole story.

      Plus the other thing that really irks me here is the "it will never happen here" attitude. I do security, i know that the risks are statistically lower because the population is lower. There are however some risks that SHOULD have mitigation and response plans in ANY community (tornadoes anyone?) and I wish that it wasnt such a fight to get folks to recognize that.
      -------------------------------
      You can't fix stupid, but you can arrest it. - LINY

      "Their house, their rules. And when they get robbed, they can call 911 and ask them to send a hippie to protect them." - ateamer

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      • #4
        Nope not any harder or different. Policing is policing is policing. Wether its LA NY or small town USA, its all the same just more or less of it.
        Striving to create a world in which I am no longer needed. 1*

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        • #5
          I work as a PT officer for 2 communities about the same size as you are describing. I considered working in the community where I live, also around the same size, but decided not to. I personally didn't want to be in a position to arrest people I knew even casually. I prefer a certain level of professional detachment.

          I could write for an hour about the pros and cons of working small towns, but here's my short list:

          Pros
          People tend to be friendlier
          Better information through the grapevine
          People tend to be more community-minded
          Greater appreciation amongst most for the job we do
          Shorter chain-of-command for easier decision-making
          Wider range of responsibilities (whether it's a drunk driver or a homicide investigation, we're it)
          No direct supervision (at least during the shifts I work -- 2nds & 3rds)

          Cons
          Easier public access to the chief for complaints
          Heavy emphasis on traffic enforcement (I don't mind doing traffic, because I get a lot of OWIs, drugs and warrant arrests, but it'd be nice to deal with different stuff on a more frequent basis)
          Not as well-funded as larger agencies
          Less chance for upward or lateral mobility
          No direct supervision (when you're dealing with something new or complex, it's sometimes nice to have a sergeant to bounce questions off of)

          Good luck!

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          • #6
            I know there are some definate pros. My scanner runs 24 hrs a day, and I know the officers that are working now. If they get into a real fix, I'm there to help (I'm an officer in another town right now). It will also save me $300 a month in fuel to work in my hometown. Bonus!!
            Most everyone knows me, and knows I'm honest. I treat everyone with respect, even the scumbags that don't really deserve it. The real bummer is, I'm on the village council and will be giving up my seat if I get the job. I need to make a living first. We'll just see how it goes. If it's God's Will for me to be there, it'll happen. If not, at least I'm working right now.

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            • #7
              I retired after 30 years from a very large, 9000+ sworn member agency on the left coast (you would recognize its initials in an instant), serving 4.5 million people. My last patrol division was a little less than 8 sq. miles and had a reported 300,000 people in it.

              Now, my new department is 13.5 sworn, patrols 4.5 sq. miles and serves 5,500 people.

              As a patrol officer in this small town, I'm better equipped than patrol officers back where I came from, with few exceptions. I have no Federal Consent Decree, no watchdog groups, no protests...I treat people fairly, explain the law and my actions accordingly and not worry about complaints. None of my co-workers, so far, are out to backstab me, to try and posture for their next promotional spot. My paychecks are smaller, but so is my call load.

              Back where I came from I, many times, did everything right, explained the law and my actions accordingly and still caught a complaint and/or lawsuit. The backstabbing was so bad, in Los Angeles, that we should have two back panels on our vests.
              "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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