Lessons for the Pup

I am jealous.

There is now so much good information on policing available online through officers who write blogs--much more than when I could have used it. New officers or persons interested in pursuing a career as an officer can glean valuable perspective into real policing by reading these online journals.

When I was trying to prepare for the police academy my idea of the job was based solely on books. Now, cop books are a great resource, but the goal with a book, for the most part, is to sell more books. As such, police authors tend to focus on the 2% of their job that is pure adrenaline rush. Readers gain insights into shootings, pursuits, fights, hot calls, etc.; as that is what is interesting.

But what about the other 98% of police work? I had no clue what was involved. How do you patrol?

When asked by criminal justice students what blogs on policing that I recommend, I provide these three links: Cst. Sandra Glendinning over at Behind the Blue Line, The Roanoke Cop, and Christopher at The Warrior Poets.

Each of these sworn authors provides excellent writing on all aspects of the job sprinkled with nuggets of wisdom for persons interested in what makes a good officer.

Recently, I read several posts by an officer using the name "Raindog" over at a Typepad blog. The officer’s posts are a mix of poetry, wit, and outstanding police writing.

The following is a snippet from a post last year in which he describes being assigned a new officer to train for the night (something that he does not regularly do). Riding in their zone, Raindog discusses how to patrol—stressing patience and observation.

After awhile, the two patrol officers see a man walking alone and acting in an aggressive manner. Here is his description (note: he refers to the new officer as “the pup”):
...He is walking down the middle of the street with a hard stride. I can feel his anger. Hearing the rush of the approaching car, he glares back. Seeing the patrol car, he stuffs an item in his jacket.

We need to talk to him.

The pup, eager all night for anything, despite my words, keeps driving. The pup can smell the potential for a fight, but he is still a pup and freezes.

We need to talk to him.

Alpha dog wins. The car stops. We hop out.

The angry man doesn’t want to be stopped. He looks at the pup, then me, and wisely begins barking at the pup. The pup takes a step back. Mistake. He lost his show.

I step in, low growl, and engage eyes. I talk him back to standing on the curb. He is angry, but wants no fight.

He missed the bus out of the little town he was visiting a friend in, and has walked five miles only to miss the last bus in this section of town, so he will have to walk another 5 miles to his apartment downtown...
I’ll let you go to his blog to read the entire post and see how the incident ends—as he integrates a clever crime prevention strategy to effectively deal with this issue in the short and long term .

This story illustrates the value, maybe more than only a handful or professions, of a good field trainer. I had three of them during my probationary period. I was the pup before.

My learning curve would certainly have been reduced had I been exposed to someone like Raindog’s guidance before being thrown into the real world of policing. Instead, how to patrol was learned the hard way.

At least for those with a desire to find illustrations of good policing-—the lessons are clearly out there online.


Raindog said...

Thank you for the very nice write up.


Natalie said...

Thanks so much for this post! I've noticed your name on quite a few police blogs that I follow, and I only regret it's taken me until now to come upon yours!

My hubby's leo, and the blogging world has really helped me find some awesome people that reside in this realm. In fact, I recently posted on the Walking a Thin Blue Line blog I contibute to a question on good leo books, but you addressed something I didn't consider, which is the good reading that comes from some blogs!

Thanks for the eye-opener and I look forward to reading more in the future.

Sandra G. said...

Slamdunk - thanks for the mention and for pointing me in the direction of Raindog's blog.


Slamdunk said...

RD and Sandra: Your welcome.

Natalie: I appreciate the kind words.