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I work for a large East Coast agency. My agency hires all young, know-it-all kids—21-year-olds with no life experience. They come from what I call the “entitlement generation.” Mistake No. 1 : The department hires them. Mistake No. 2 : It pushes them through the academy to fill a body slot. Mistake No. 3 : Supervisors won’t fire them despite an FTO’s warnings and clear observations.
End result : I work next to a bunch of flaming idiots, who are arrogant and have no common sense but have the responsibility of watching my six. They can’t handle their own calls after being on the street for a year and a half, and if I end up in a fist-a-cuffs with a suspect, they just stand there.
As an FTO myself, I’ve already tried helping these morons, but no matter how many times I tell them something, they don’t get it. Common sense is not as common as it used to be. I was once a young rookie too, but I was never this full of myself, useless or so stupid as to go into a situation with no backup. Apparently, at 21, you now know it all.
Leaving patrol is an option, but I don’t want to leave. I love my job. How do I keep the love I have for my job when I don’t trust these raw rookies, and I’m forced to work beside them because my agency keeps hiring them like they’re on K-mart’s blue light special?
— Fed up & Angry
Dear Fed Up: It sounds like you have serious problems, and you’ve covered most of the avenues of approach on this one. I guess you figured Ol’ Bullethead would just throw in the towel and quit since you have it all wrapped up in a nice box of K-9 poop. Unlike you Mr. Jackass Answer Man, I’m not gonna just sit here and get jacked up by one angry guy who thinks a bunch of young cops aren’t worth their weight in empty 12-gauge holes.
I have yet to meet any young cops who know all the answers when they start out, and the same holds true for these cops for the first few years of being on the job. You weren’t any different Slick, so stop thinking you were.
We get plenty of youngsters in our business. A lot of them have limited life experience, some of them have never been in a fight, and a few of them still live with their parents. So what.
When I was 21, I had a different kind of parent taking care of me, one known as the U.S. military. Was I building life experience? Yes. Was I getting in fights? Anyone who served knows the answer to that one. Is that the only acceptable route into law enforcement? No.
Kids these days are challenged much more and much sooner than I ever was. One of my Capheads is doing basic algebra in first grade. Were you doing that, Slick? Does algebra help with police work? It only helps if you want to think analytically and logically through problems. If you’re just a knuckle dragger who thinks police work is nothing more than going to the same call until you can pick a fight with the reporting party so you can arrest them, you probably don’t need it. I’m not saying you’re like that Slick; I’m just saying it.
What you’ve forgotten is that you were a stupid young cop when you started. Maybe you were a bit ahead of some of the people being hired now, but it wasn’t by much. The problem here is all you, not them. You’ve gotten to the point where you live and breathe patrol work, and anyone who can’t sum up a situation with our speed and clarity is an idiot. You don’t have the patience or the mindset to help people; you just want to handle things and move along. Dr. Bullethead is prescribing change. The change isn’t for the agency or the new kids; it’s for you.
From the department perspective, when you complain about every new hire, you’re just another complainer, not someone trying to help. From the rookie’s perspective you’re nothing more than a guy who shows up and takes over every call while talking down to them and treating them like crap.
Think about how you might act in that same situation. I’ll tell you what you’d do. You’d pull some attitude—as a defense mechanism—and let the crotchety old jerk take over. That way you wouldn’t have to hang around any longer than necessary with such an unpleasant, mean and annoying person.
You can fix this and go on to live a longer, happier life. You need to shift your paradigm to include the fact that these kids are in your department and they aren’t going anywhere. So stop hating them, and start mentoring them.
You also need a hobby.