I'm a five-year correctional officer, and I've recently been accepted to be on my department's SOG team. Openings are available for IAD, and I'm also in the process for another department, which pays better and is a better known and more respected department. I'd like to know what you think I should do? Thanks in advance.
Dear Confused with Opportunities: It must be softball month again because this is an easy one. But before I get to it, let me issue an order: Boys and girls, get back to work and send me some more damn questions! If not, you're gonna end up with ol' Bullethead back on his soapbox going wild about something really important to me, which by its very nature makes it important to you.
Let's get back to the question at hand. Never forget that starting over is about as much fun as slamming your unit into the chief's G-ride because you were staring at their (adult) daughter's rear end. Believe me, that'd be a bad day in Bulletheadville or any other 'ville.
You have five years of building relationships, learning procedures and finally getting offers to join some specialized units. Maybe you're doing well at your agency because of a combination of work product, work ethic and personality. If you start over at a new agency, you may have a personality clash, and that could hold you back. Keep in mind that the day you sign up, you become the lowest ranking member of the new agency, and if everything works out, it will still take you at least a few years to get back into the mix where you can start looking at the sort of specialized units you're already being invited to join.
Remember this, amigo: You never really know what's going on in an organization until you're part of that organization. I don't care if you have a friend who works there or you went on a ridealong or whatever. Organizations, just like people, know how to put their best foot forward when you're meeting them. The reality: It takes time in the trenches of any agency to understand how things are done and if it's full of cliques and back-room deals or the bosses are micromanagers or any number of other things likely to make an agency a difficult or even miserable place to work.
You said the new agency is better known and more respected than your current agency. I don't even know what the hell that means. Are you gonna get invited to better parties or get more dates because you work at the new place? If that's your motivation, you better keep it a secret from the new agency or they'll end up using your application as a target on the next 12-gauge qualification day.
I know we've been through this before, so I'll just hit it quickly. Working corrections is just as important as working patrol. Corrections may not be glamorous, but unless you're using your uniform to get dates, neither is patrol. The object: Find out what you're interested in and what you're good at, and do it to the best of your ability. Here in Bulletheadville, we call that making a contribution to the greater good. That's a good day in Bulletheadville.
You also said the new organization pays better. That can be a difficult one to get around, but make sure you take a look the complete package. Start with advancement. Does the new agency offer the ability to move up if that's something you'll eventually desire? Look at the age of the people in the agency and how it's organized. Do people get into spots and hold them until their grandchildren are done with college, or are they an agency with reasonable amount of movement?
Next, look at overtime opportunities and see if they match up with your current agency. And look at the real difference between your pay and their pay. A dollar an hour difference won't change your lifestyle or let your spouse stay home with the kids.
In the film "Enter the Dragon," Bruce Lee's character speaks of the art of fighting without fighting. You have just experienced Bullethead engaged in the art of advising without advice. Hey, I'm not a career counselor or a life coach, so quit crying! Take what I've said here and look hard at your options and do some real analysis. Then be an adult and make up your own damn mind.
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 or fax him at 619/699-6246