Years ago while commanding a Uniform Patrol Division for a nationally accredited Sheriff’s Office, I worked closely with the Regional Police Training Academy Director. Having previously worked for me in a special services division, we became fast friends.
Following the graduation of each academy class, the rookies reported to the Patrol Section for assignment to an experienced Field Training Officer (FTO). The Director made it a point to ask if they still stood up. I’d laugh and say, “Yes.”
This went on for just a few weeks, until my response was a sadly conceded, “Nope.” No longer did the fresh idealistic officers rise to attention upon a commanding officer entering the room. They were trained to do so during the militaristic style Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) academy.He knew, as did I that once mingled within the “old-school” officers that peer pressure would end this practice of showing proper respect. It was not as much that the senior officers disagreed with the practice. It was the idea of something new and right might cause them to actually have to rise up.
It is not as much a matter of the Director demanding compliance, as it is honoring what their parents probably taught about respect and manners.
Socialization & Fitting In
This brings me to today. My cadets attend the same Training Academy, commanded by the same Director, and he instills the same values of honor and respect. While I still enjoy our conversations about the rookies, his line of questioning is absent. We both know the answer.
There is a rookie officer. On the job less than a year, he completed the Police Academy and his FTO phase. The other day I walked into the large open area designated as the Patrol Squad Room. It was full of officers and staff, both young and old, experienced and rookies.
He began to stand up as I approached, then about halfway through the upward motion; stopped. His face forced a smile but was encased by red, flushing skin. I watched and listened to the others as they began to grumble and laugh.
For just that one moment I wanted to help him do the right and respectful thing. I wanted the Director to be there to see that he did make a lasting impression. That despite the pressures of your peers, you would do as your mom and dad expected. That the featherless weight of public opinion matters none, as it lies upon personal integrity.
But he stopped, and looked the room straight in the face. After all, he only worked for me, but worked always with them. I thought nothing less of him. occupational socialization, or “fitting in” is a powerful force. Then…
What would he do?
He stood up!
Some laughed, others clapped, but all were proud of our rookie. I shook his hand and said “Thank you. Always do the right thing and stand up.”
Romans 13:1; Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Show proper respect to those in positions of authority. Their burden is one you may come to know as you ascend through the ranks of your profession. Take it from a veteran cop, I will never forget the moment my rookie shook off the pounds of peer pressure to stand for time-honored tradition.