For the New Boss
As a police department we do a great job of supervising and managing but
I think that we forgot what leadership is all about. Think about it. The past
administration's goal was to reduce murders through the strategy of addressing gangs,
guns and drugs. In the meantime many Districts saw increases in the crimes of robbery,
burglary and theft. But many of these trends were pushed aside for missions in the DOC.
Missions – now there's a concept that's overdone. Everything we do is a mission of some
type. And make sure an event number is assigned. Does anyone really believe that these
missions are accomplishing anything? Really?
Many districts had their manpower depleted to increase the size of various
citywide units like TRU. Many officers were worn thin by having to be detailed
throughout the city on weekends and to suffer numerous cancellations to their days off
whether they wanted to work or not. Is this leadership? I think not. Sure there was a
reduction to murders, but at what cost?
In my quarter of a century on the job I can't remember morale being lower.
No one wants to police anymore. Everyone wants to just get through their day as easily
as they can. Ask any cop why and he will tell you without hesitation that he fears the
department will sell him out. And the public despises us. Everything we do, right or
wrong, is questioned by the community groups and the media. Who's standing up for us?
Where are our leaders? I would be thrilled to have just one top boss stand up in the
limelight and make the following statement: "Folks, here's how we can prevent all these
people from being shot: obey the law! Let's also remember, please, that a police officer
has the right to defend himself, his partners and anyone whose life may be in jeopardy. If
people would obey the law; not carry guns and sell drugs; not run or fight the police, then
these shootings would not be happening. Period. End of story." That's a leader.
We also need to reinstall discipline. We have gone from a paramilitary
organization to a fraternity. Just attend a roll call and look at all the uniforms present.
Ties, no ties, dickies; baseball hats, police hats, knit skullcaps; dress pants, field pants,
cargo pants and shorts; 3 or 4 different types of jackets; sweaters; various colors of
outside vest covers…my God we look just like a roll call out of Hill Street Blues! How
can you be the police when you don't look like the police? Sometimes it seems that no
one cares what they look like anymore. Nail polish, earrings, long hair, goatees and
unshaven faces are all covered in an order. But is it ever enforced anymore? Now IAD
tells you that a male can have hair of any length as long as he can pin it up above his
collar like the females? What? If you don't care about yourself, how can you care for
others? Also, I'm sure that every white shirt out there has the horror story about telling
someone to perform a task and getting back the infamous retort: Why? Why? Because
it's your job, that's why. This department is not, nor should ever be like a college
I also hope that whoever takes over the reins of CPD reads the article
about San Diego Police Chief Williams Lansdowne in the Police Executive Research
Forum where he says:
"The most difficult, dangerous, complex job in the police department is
the patrol officer that answers calls every day. Everybody else is support to that patrol
person. What we have traditionally done in law enforcement is we've overspecialized.
We have SWAT teams, negotiator teams, robbery teams, homicide teams, sexual assault
teams, and there's a belief that we need more investigative teams, we need more task
forces, fugitive task forces – and we've always drained patrol….
I've reversed that. I've taken people out of specialized units and put them
in patrol, so we have enough people to be over the minimum staffing levels…" *
Wow! What a concept!
Whoever takes over, I hope that he or she takes the time to sit down and
look back to where we have been, where we are now, and where we can go in the future.
I hope he or she brings us true leadership, builds morale and discipline, and supports the
cop on the street who needs it most. After all, that person will become the
Superintendent of the finest police department in the United States.
Robert H. Stasch
Area 3 Representative
* PERF Newsletter, Vol.21, No.8 August 2007