I’ve been an officer on the same department for years and have worked under several chiefs. Each chief has had strong points and weak points, but overall things balanced out.
A year ago we got a new chief promoted from within the department. He worked his way through the ranks over the years. Since he’s been chief, he has single handedly broken down the spirits of most of the officers in the department, dismantled important parts of the department such as the police honor guard and caused department morale to crash to an all-time low.
He has no skills when dealing with employees. Many at the department agree he’s egotistical, and possibly a narcissist. This opinion is shared even by the administrators working directly under him. He’s been heard to say many times that “he’s chief, and therefore he can” regardless if his actions damage members of the department.
How does one work with someone like this and make it day to day with a positive attitude? It’s hard to feel you can ever win with this guy. I’ve had hopes of working several more years on this department, but I’m not sure I can hang in there if he’s still around.
Bullethead responds: I just had to yell at the little Capheads to do something. The oldest got angry and started to puff up on ol’ Bullethead. I hit him right between the eyes with “do it because Daddy said so.” Here at the Bullethead Ranch, we call that the bottom line. What I say goes because I say so—unless Mrs. Bullethead tells me to shut my pie hole.
So, jumping off right there, don’t forget that he’s the chief and he can say what goes for no reason other than that. Of course, just as doing this too often would make me a crappy father, it also makes him a crappy chief if he overuses it, but sometimes discussion needs to end and things need to move forward.
I’ve heard so many chiefs claim they aren’t responsible for individual or departmental morale it makes my head spin. The first time I heard it, I just thought I had a jackass for a chief. Then I heard it from a different chief and figured I was just stuck in some sort of epidemic of piss-poor leadership. Eventually, I either heard it or heard about it so many times I figured the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) was putting out a training bulletin about how to run a department into the ground. I checked their Web site, though, and it turns out the IACP is more interested in good leadership than in creating jackass chiefs.
The problem must be that not enough chiefs are paying attention. The best part is when these same boneheads go after a sergeant or lieutenant when a particular unit is struggling with morale. How these morons can figure a sergeant is responsible for unit morale and a chief is not responsible for departmental morale remains way beyond ol’ Bullethead’s level of expertise. I’ll make up for it by just calling them idiots.
Lots of the idiot chiefs I’ve had the misfortune to meet over the years subscribe to the Great Man School of Leadership. They figure they got the job because they’re a great man, and as a great man, how can they ever be wrong? Your particular idiot sounds like one of these.
There must be some old timers who have some good stories about this guy being an idiot when he was on the streets. Those stories should come up just enough to knock him off his great-man perch, but not enough to give him ammo to use against you.
If you really want to spank this bozo, have the association cut off any discussion with him and go directly to his boss. Ignore him completely and refuse meetings he requests. That will drive him nuts, and make sure the city manager or council members you do meet with get an ear full at every meeting.
If you don’t have an association, go have a few beers with the city council members and start telling them how bad things are at their police department. If things don’t get any better, leak a rumor that the rank and file are moving toward a vote of no confidence. Don’t make an idle threat, though—if you leak the rumor, be ready to act.
The only other thing you can do is police yourself. You still have the greatest job on the planet, so go to work and stuff some piece of poop in the pit for crossing the line. Or, do whatever you like: writing tickets, helping old ladies across the street, etc. You see, the chief is responsible for department morale, the sergeant is responsible for unit morale and you’re responsible for personal morale.
Don’t let the jackass chief win. Enjoy your job and all it offers despite the idiot.
Got a question or complaint?
Let Bullethead hear about it. He’ll give you his opinion with both barrels.
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org fax him at 619/699-6246.