I just got promoted. That s the good news. The bad news? Everyone seems to think they can put one over on me because they know all the stuff I used to do when we worked patrol together. Every time I try to hold one of the guys accountable, I get, Hey, come on, it s me. Remember when we .
I really want to be a good supervisor and I know my job is different now, but I just don t know how to make the change. I ve thought about talking to my boss, but I m afraid she ll think I don t have what it takes and I won t make probation.
How do I turn into a good supervisor? I think I got promoted because I was a good cop, but I m realizing that being a good cop doesn t make you a good supervisor. Help!
Bullethead responds: New Supe, you re in luck because ol Bullethead wasn t born a wise old salty dog (and I m still not old). Matter of fact, I was one of the biggest jackasses in the industry. I m not sure the statute of limitations is up on some of the stupid things I ve done, but because I want to help and because it s always fun to laugh at myself I ll throw one out there. The rest of you just shut it.
I can already hear the gasps of horror and the Bullethead did bad things comments. I never did anything illegal or immoral just stupid. The sorts of things that should have, and sometimes did, land me in Internal Affairs.
Plenty of the stuff I did was just standard patrol crap. One incident that should ve gotten me fired was exceptionally jackass. I was booking some chump parolee. He was running his mouth, and I was giving it back to him and letting it escalate like an amateur. He gave me the standard, If you didn t have that badge and gun .
We were in the booking room, so my weapons were already off. I pulled my badge off and got into the cage with him. I had another officer lock the cage door, and I took a seat on the stool next to him in full view of all the video cameras watching the booking room. Although stupid, young Bullethead was not a punk, so the parolee shut his pie hole.
Still, let s take a closer look at this one. Had parolee boy jumped, we would ve each beat each other silly. I put the other officers and the agency at risk with this one, but I was too stupid to care. I ve thought about it for years, and I still can t think of a reasonable way to talk my way out of that one. The only thing I can say is, I should ve been disciplined for taking the bait, and if a fight had come from it, I should ve been fired.
Enough laughing about how stupid ol Bullethead was. You ve been down the road, so you know the tricks. You also know how you would ve talked your way out of things, so you should have your supervisor arguments ready. Times change, police work changes and now you ve changed. If a subordinate hits you with your history, give it back to him with a laugh: Yeah, remember all the crazy stuff we used to do, those days are gone. (You are walking the walk now, right?)
You can t pretend it didn t happen because that will kill your credibility, so just embrace it as the good ol days and make it clear it s no longer OK. Invite your squad for a cup and shoot the poop about the crazy times. After you joke about it, switch into Supe mode and make it clear it s a new day. They ll come around.
If not, slap em. I don t advocate discipline by force, but if they re pushing to see how far you ll let them go, you gotta set the flare pattern and make it clear which way the traffic must move.
Your lieutenant should be a good resource. You were put into your spot to lead and teach, and so was she. You teach cops, and she teaches sergeants. Don t go to her and complain that the troops are giving you a hard time she ll bounce you like a superball. But hit her up with ideas about where you are, where you re going and how you plan to get there. If she s worth those bars, she ll let you present an issue and a plan, and only adjust small pieces. As she adjusts, you can ask other questions.
Like I said, this is an easy fix, so go laugh at your former self. Then finish laughing and start leading.
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.