Two messages from polar opposites, both focused on three stripes: The first, a retired captain, concerned about the state of sergeancy today, noted the dwindling numbers of seasoned, experienced “career first-line supervisors,” and the increasing percentage of those only occupying the rank as a stepping-stone to lieutenant and beyond. He sees this situation as a dangerous erosion of the foundations of law enforcement. Big brass comes and goes, he said, as do rookies and officers, with negligible impact on agencies. But lose their core cadre of dedicated sergeants, and the profession collapses from within.

The other message is from a recently promoted sergeant, fresh from a state supervisor’s course. Saying he had been a “happy warrior” as an officer, he expressed frustration and disappointment with his squad and his job — a common sentiment among attendees at the course.

“My squad is this unbelievable bunch of work-shirkers, malcontents, self-styled, action-movie heroes, playboys, and yeah, some good cops. My job is boring, routine-paper crap and screamin’ emergencies, unappreciated drone-work, constant pressure and, man, is it lonely! The older sergeants just kind of watch and ignore me, and the younger ones act like I’m their competition, not their peer. I’ve thought about taking a demotion — or just quitting.”

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