Last month, we discussed the entitlement mentality within our profession. Now I’d like to explore the issue further, as I believe it’s critical to the question of whether we remain a profession or revert to a time when police work was simply a job almost anyone could do.
One of those who originally suggested this topic opined that the entitlement mentality plaguing too many police agencies is the logical outgrowth of the union or organized labor orientation of many of today’s cops. While that view may be controversial, I happen to think it’s true. Consider the following, because if you’re honest and have been around long enough, you’ll recognize this scenario to be true.
Once Upon A Time…
Some years back, an officer suggested to the chief of a neighboring police department the benefits of adding a patrol canine to the force. If the department would assist in funding the dog he, the officer, would volunteer to be the handler and would attend the training on his own time. The city, of course, would also need to provide a suitable vehicle, but the officer would purchase other requisite equipment himself and would happily house the dog at his home during off-duty hours.
The administration viewed the proposal positively, as it allowed them (or so they thought) to add a beneficial resource in a relatively cost-effective manner. From the officer’s point of view, though he never said so, he just created a prestigious specialty assignment tailor-made for him. So the deal was done. And, yes, the department and the community benefitted from the K-9 in patrol program over a period of several years.
Three years down the road, the “police association” (a politically correct term for “union”) decided that in spite of the handler initiating the K-9 program and practically begging to be allowed to donate some of the costs, a huge inequity had occurred. Said association, in the form of a grievance and threatened lawsuit, demanded the handler be reimbursed for all he’d spent in support of the dog, compensated for a ridiculous amount of time allegedly spent working the dog at home off-duty, and compensation for portal-to-portal travel time. The association held the officer was “entitled” to such compensation. I’ll spare the details but the city paid big and that was the end of the K-9 program.
Further, many departments, even in this period of ammunition shortages and excessive costs, still allocate practice ammo monthly to their officers as an incentive to maintain and improve life-saving skills. Unfortunately, too many officers and the associations representing them eschew this benefit and exclaim, “We won’t train if we’re not paid.” Ever heard the expression, “Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face?”
A true professional devotes whatever time, talent and even treasure as reasonable and necessary to maintain and even improve his skills. Someone who simply holds a job does only what he’s paid for and uses only those resources provided to him at the company’s expense to maintain minimum levels of competency. You’d think that in a line of work where your life, the life of a fellow officer or the lives of citizens might depend on the maximum proficiency attainable by you, an offer of practice ammo at no cost would be well-received. But in an entitlement society? Not so much.
Think About It
The truly professional peace officer takes what is given by the agency, and through personal initiative — on his own time — uses what’s given to him as a foundation upon which to build. Those who do not add value (their own efforts) to the mix never get beyond the foundation itself. Reading job-related materials or participating in self-funded training during off-duty hours is a good investment in your future. Professionals do it all the time. Mere holders of jobs never do it at all.
The future of law enforcement, and whether it remains a profession or reverts to the blue-collar job level it once was, is up to each and every one of us. For those of us who desire to remain professional and skilled, please give us all the free ammo you can afford — we’ll use it productively on our own time to better prepare ourselves to go home safe at the end of each shift.
The entitlement folks? They’ll put their trust in luck, not in personal responsibility and initiative. I know which side I’m on. Do you?
Questions, comments and suggestions for future columns can be sent to Jerry at [email protected]
By Jerry Boyd