Rookie Cop; The Stand-Up Guy


Supporting Our Rookie’s Graduation

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.

The Question

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.”

Pre Teaching Bike

1st to Volunteer

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.

Occupational socialization is a powerful influencer of human behavior.

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.

The Stand Up Guy

The Stand Up Guy

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.

7 replies »

  1. Great post.

    You make an interesting and useful point, here. I think maybe people are caught in the challenge of navigating the distance between “everyone is equal,” “everyone has equal opportunity,” and even “I’m just as good as anyone else.”

    Many in the West choose not to respect institutional hierarchy, especially not using “old” traditions (as if “new” traditions mean much!).

    • (I hope the question wasn’t rhetorical.)

      I think the answer actually has a lot to do with modern marketing. Our identities have moved from being citizens, who owe something to the society in which we live, to a being a “target market.” In our love-affair with economic well being, we’ve taken “the customer is always right” and applied it to too many situations that aren’t good for our society as a whole.

      The whole “everyone’s special” trope that infuses so many areas of our lives means that markers of hierarchy end up moved “underground.” The average civilian might respect an LEO for doing a hard job, but not for being the one who stands between most of us softies and a rough, rough world.

  2. That is so awesome to hear. In today’s world, it’s sadly uncommon for anyone to have what was once a common respect. For instance, a few months ago in Sam’s club I dropped a 50 lbs bag of dog food on my own foot while at least 3 men watched.

    Whoever came up with this women’s lib thing took it way too far for my taste. Door handles are dirty, and I hate touching them. It won’t hurt my feelings to see someone open a door for a women or actually show our officers proper respect.

    On a side note, you quoted Romans 13, and that’s where my brother, Derek’s favorite verse comes from. Romans 13:4.

  3. As a civilian – this post brought tears to my eyes. Peer pressure is a terrible thing, and I’m glad this rookie did the right thing. You also deserve this kind of respect from the community you serve, but I know that is not always the case. I think often about the officers who have died in the line of duty — 100 years ago or just last week — time should not diminish our respect for officers who given the ultimate sacrifice. I serve a few officers in my own community by cooking breakfast and dinner for them. It is an honor and a privilege, and certainly an unexpected blessing in my life. I know you have a ‘thankless’ job at times, but know that there are MANY who appreciate the job you do and the sacrifices you make.

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