Saturday, December 31, 2011

Are Our Hands Tied?

The Occupy Whatever movement was met with great restraint by political leaders all over the country until push literally came to shove. And guess who got to do the shoving? That’s right – your friendly neighborhood armed government agents. Mayors and college presidents and governors have their private armies to do what begging, negotiating, and persuasion cannot – the police officer. Why don’t mayors send in a phalanx of social workers or public relations staff? How about the street department guys or the city engineer’s office? Are the interns in the mail room so busy they can’t go down to the park and get some trespassers to move along? Or hey, get the firefighters – they have uniforms and everybody loves firefighters!

Why the police? One word: force. We have the license to hurt. Gosh that sounds mean. And on video it looks even meaner. Officers in heavy gear, wielding sticks, carrying industrial strength pepper spray, descending in formation to make people do what they do not want to do makes for riveting video and front page photos. The pictures ignite a visceral response in a society that has become so peaceful and civil that the thought of cops using force is more than the average eye can bear.

The thought process goes like this: person violates law, politician looks the other way, violator decides to continue to violate law, politician decides law should be enforced and warns violator, violator decides to continue to break law, politician orders police to enforce law, police confront violator, violator still breaks law, police exercise force to gain compliance, violator screams bloody murder, politician investigates cops for using force.

The politician wins. He or she got tough, but not too tough and not too hastily so as to allow the pot to simmer a while, and when things happened that don’t play well on the news, he or she gets to blame the police. This scenario played out so much near the end of 2011 that I fear it will do lasting damage to policing in America. As harsh as it sounds, the license of force is a necessary tool for peace. Images of officers doing what is required of them without a coherent narrative make it hard on everybody. Every confrontation is a “raid”, every arrest where force is required is a “beating”, and every tool carried into the fray is “overreaction”. Politicians use police officers like tissue paper – they have an ugly substance to remove and the thing used to remove it gets tainted and thrown away.

I’ve seen disposable officers tossed aside for convenience far too often. I’ve seen officers delay in using appropriate force for fear of repercussions, and officers use inadequate force for the same reasons. Maybe it is time for a reality contract with police administrators and politicians. “If you want me to enforce the law, I might have to hurt somebody. If I hurt somebody in a lawful way, you will accept joint responsibility and support me so that I can keep doing my job and not be afraid that you will punish me. If you don’t want me to ever use force, tell me now and I will walk away. If you want me to avoid using force, give me the training and tools to best accomplish that, and let your public know that it is their responsibility to comply with my lawful commands.”

Do we trust our elected leaders, prosecutors, and desk-bound police administrators to accept that responsibility? I don’t. Maybe it’s time we put it in writing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shave and an Ego Trim

My hairdresser likes me. Attach the number one clipper and run it around on my bowling ball head so that I look like a Marine at least from the ears up. Easy money. I trim my own fingernails, skip the pedicure, scrape my face of sad whiskers that have never been able to shape themselves into a decent mustache, and basically pay enough attention to my appearance that the rough edges are gone and I look presentable for the sake of the uniform.

It’s interesting to me that we do all kinds of stuff to our cars, our guns, our physique, and even our lawns to keep things running and remain socially acceptable. For most of us there does seem to be one thing that never needs maintenance and stays at a state of perfection forever – our personality. I confess I’m pretty happy with mine. I find that when people don’t like me it’s their problem. They either don’t understand me, can’t handle the truth, or lack the wit and wisdom that I have honed to a fine point over the years. The obvious problem with that attitude is that when I am not doing maintenance and improvement on my personality I am opening myself up for others to do it for me.

This week I was teaching a class, sort of a citizen’s police academy for credit, and we talked about qualifications for officers. The subject of tattoos came up and, being old-school, I made a few spontaneous jokes about the subject, since I have a delightful sense of humor. I took another crack at tats later in the class and a fine young student who recently served in the Marines and sported a few lines of ink on his well-developed biceps took exception. He was very polite but asked me simply why I was down on people with tattoos. Ouch.

The truth is back in my day the only people with tattoos were formerly drunken sailors, people who had been in prison, or ignorant white trash – in other words my mother’s side of the family. I know that tattoos are now popular, normal, conformist, and done with enthusiasm. My predictions of a generation of regretful senior citizens with droopy cartoons where their cool tats used to be notwithstanding, I had kept my old ideas and let them turn into disrespect for persons with a benign difference of opinion from mine.

I thanked the student for pointing that out, apologized for any offense, promised to watch that attitude, and asked him to partner with me in holding me accountable to that promise as the semester progressed. As if Fate had not finished with my humility lesson, I left the class to find a parking ticket on my motorcycle, one written by one of my officers. Along the way I had somehow justified the special privilege of driving and parking on the sidewalk, a privilege that did not belong to me despite my exalted administrative position and that I lay my life on the line every day for you people.

When the student is ready, the lesson comes. I resolve, even though it’s not New Year’s Day, that when I look in the mirror to trim my fuzz that I’ll think about what rough edges my attitude might have developed as well. I’ll have some skin bracer ready though, because those adjustments often come with a little sting to them.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Rant About Cops Who Think I Don't Have "Street Cred"

I've spent a lifetime masking my emotions. Cops are good at that. Fear, loathing, rage, disgust all percolate behind our professional mask. But, I confess, I have an ego. When I get an article published online I check back to see the feedback and comments. . So when I get a comment from some critic that says I don't have "street cred" to talk about anything I write about, I grit my teeth, bite my tongue, take a deep breath, write them off as misinformed, and move on.

But I kept ruminating (oh crap, a four syllable word - there goes more street cred) and now I wonder just what is the perfect cop these curbside critics want to hear from on PoliceOne? I’m guessing first they have to be big city cops. Yeah, big city. Big city and bad neighborhoods. I’ll give you that, bro. If you’re on the front lines in a gang infested, shots fired, nobody got a daddy world you have my ear. But we all can’t work in East St. Louis, the east end of Baltimore, or the east side of LA.

I guess since I haven’t had bodies dropping in fetid urban projects that the blood and guts I waded in just don’t give me the proper street cred. Some super cops might be shocked to know that even us small town Barney Fifes have seen the wrong end of a gun, oozing brain matter, and slice-n-diced appendages too. But I lose street cred points having never worked for a department of over thirty cops. I guess growing up in the country, remembering when we got running water inside and finally a gas furnace so I could stop chopping wood all the time I just wanted to stay small town (yeah, I was white trash not middle class). Shameful.

My small town brethren know that we don’t have the luxury of manning an outer perimeter while the CSI team does our work for us. No air support. Enough officers on a zero budget SWAT team to go one operational cycle if we’re lucky. And if you’re it and the fight call goes out you don’t wait for non-existent backup. You just go. Lost street cred for not waiting for a cover car I suppose. Most real veterans are reluctant to spill their guts about every battered face that haunts them, every death smell, every withheld tear, every cheek-clenching pursuit, every high-noon moment, every tough decision that got second-guessed. But since the critics think I wouldn’t have had any of those experiences I’ll spare the reader the details.

Another liability some of us have is that we haven’t worked midnights all of our career. Of my thirty plus years I took reserve positions for half that time to teach criminal justice in college. Damn. I said college. Not sure how to measure that huge loss of street cred - one point for every year would be twelve points unless you count how long it actually took to get my college education while working full time. And - with all due respect to the distance learners - mine was butt in the classroom education getting off shift at 7am for an 8am class. I don’t suppose I get to cash in any cred for the former college and police academy students who have said thanks for saving their neck or their soul or their sanity either.

At the risk of my credibility as a street cop I made a startling discovery about education: booksmarts didn’t whittle my common sense down one little bit. Turns out writing all those papers and doing research actually makes a person better than he was before! Not better than you or the next guy, just a better me. It also didn’t make me lose respect for some of the amazing cops I learned from who may not have even finished high school. Turns out you don’t have to be just one kind of smart. College degrees don’t cancel out what the streets and veteran cops will teach you.

But now this research thing - goodness! I confess when I was doing research on officer victimization and giving presentations about officer assaults across the country, I could have been doing some good police work back in the ‘hood somewhere. But I can’t be everywhere. There are some battles that really do take place on spreadsheets and in surveys and in wrestling with statistics. Those battles save lives too. Do we take the chemist who developed Kevlar and put him on patrol? Do put the professors back on the block? If we want to continue to do police work like they did in the 1900s then sure - don’t listen to anybody without that precious in-your-face street cred.

The worst blow to my credibility is that I hold the title of Chief. You can smell the cred leaving the body with every promotion. I wish I could say I slept my way to the top but the reality is I worked my rear off to earn it. The irony is that I still have a small department. When I was reading the critique of my last article by one of the detractors I was trying to chill out after a 20 hour day investigating a sexual assault and I already had a domestic violence report overdue. Of course, to my cred detriment, those crimes happened on a college campus. When a nine year old boy is forced to fellate his father, one of my officers shoots an intruder, a kid goes berserk on acid, it’s just not the same when these crimes happen within the sweet, ivy covered walls of my college campus. Housing cops, transit cops, campus cops - all step-children of the guys with real street cred.

Bottom line is for those Jurassic Cops who think that somebody that’s over fifty, wears some brass, keeps a diploma on their wall, and works in Mayberry can’t give you something to learn that might save your sorry ass the least you could do is find a less pathetic phrase than “street cred” to use to cover your own poverty.

I’ll confess one more thing - whatever smarts I have I got from listening and learning from others. I didn’t invent any of it. I’ve learned from Feds, state cops, county cops, wildlife cops, traffic cops, Army cops, big city cops and small town cops. I’ve even learned some things from cops who I thought were fundamentally stupid. I’ve never learned by writing somebody off or labeling them as inferior to me. I don’t know who the perfectly credible cop is. I certainly wouldn’t claim it to be me. I have way too much still to learn.

Police officer deaths: What does the increase in attacks on cops mean?

June 02, 2011

Officers may be having more violent encounters because they are having more of all kinds of encounters

We expect more casualties when we engage the enemy more aggressively. Could it be that the increase in officer murders this year means that we are doing our job better than ever? Much of the speculation about officer deaths assumes that all other factors remain equal. But surely the number of fallen heroes is not the only factor changing in the equation. We tend to measure officer deaths against the statistics of previous years, or as a ratio of officers to population, or in comparison to other crime categories. These measures may fail to give us what we are looking for.

Potentially lethal assaults are mitigated by ballistics vests and better trauma care, so the raw data of dead police officers may yield less life-saving information than we might wish. Are police-suspect encounters fundamentally different than in the past, or are officers simply more engaged than ever before? Officers may be having more violent encounters because they are having more of all kinds of encounters. Here are some hypotheses:

The Technology of Response Time
Cell phones are ubiquitous — they have become cheap and accessible — which means there is a marked increase in the chances that a witness or victim will have the means to immediately call the police. More cell phones, more reporting of crimes in progress, more police contact with active suspects.

Police Efficiency
There may have been a time when a criminal would take a chance on lying his or her way out of a police contact. Due partly to fact and partly to fiction-fuelled perception, there may be a sense of inevitability of capture that makes bad guys more inclined to fight it out. The fact that we do our job as well as we do may put more people in the system, in a sense “creating” more criminals to deal with.

It’s the Economy, Stupid
Theories that good boys go bad to feed their family when no job is available are weak. What is true is that during times of low tax revenues, governments tend to try to house fewer criminals. That likely means more leniency, more parolees and probationers, and fewer bad actors behind bars. The result more people on the street who are at risk of prison with police contact — another reason to resist and assault the police.

Crime Analysis
Crime mapping, although not practiced everywhere, has brought renewed attention to wise deployment of police officers. If we are successful in that deployment the expected result is more officers near criminal activity. If we take the fight to the criminal, we have to expect the fight.

Victim Empowerment
More services and advocacy for victims, if successful, will result in empowering more people to report criminal behavior. Increases in protection orders and other brushes with the criminal justice system may not show up in traditional crime statistics while still impacting police contacts.

Cop Hate or Cop Love?
Higher trust of police officers will likely translate into more information shared by citizens. If we have become a more trusted profession we will get more tips, leads, and reports than before. More information will translate into more intervention and more contacts with suspects.

Lack of Training or Better Training?
Some trainers fear that a rise in officer deaths is due to poor training. A contrary theory is that the profession has more confident, better trained officers who are more assertive. This would result in more contacts and necessarily increases the probability of resistive encounters.

None of these possibilities excuse, rationalize, or make any officer death acceptable. The best hope for reducing mortality is mining data to construct our training and response to deal with the causes. The immediate reality is that when we engage the enemy there will be casualties, not all of which are preventable except by failing to engage at all. If there is any consolation in examining these sacrifices it may be that we are a more confident, trusted, and efficient profession than ever before.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Right to be Left Alone

Justice Brandeis made a famous dissent in the 1928 case Omstead v. United States in which he stated :
“The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone -- the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment. “

Cops – Frenemies of the Constitution?
I am an armed government agent. The specter of the Revolutionaries’ hated Redcoats walks with me. I am the very image against which the Bill of Rights was argued. I walk the streets a living and visible threat to freedom. I solemnly swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States but the reality of my work seems quite the opposite. Life? Liberty? Pursuit of happiness? I have the power to immediately bring an end to any or all of those to each person I pass. Of course I am in a noble profession. I help, I save, I uphold the law. But look at me! - a gun, pepper spray, handcuffs, a baton – hardly equipment one might imagine of a person whom the statute labels a “peace” officer. The police officer holds the power to restrain, and criminals have the power to bring fear and disorder to our world. The balance of leaving people alone to conduct their lives, and the power to stop, question, search, and detain rests on that officer. Therefore, one theory of policing would hold that officers should tread as lightly as possible with discretion favoring self-restraint. The other says that since the courts and legislatures allow encroachments on liberty we should push those to the limits for the greater good of finding criminal activity. In other words, the great question of freedom is whether our ability to discover criminal activity at the risk of liberty is the greater good over our ability to give citizens the greatest latitude in going about their day without our intrusion therefore inevitably allowing evil to go undiscovered.

The True Guardians of Liberty
Although the citizen in the glare of a police officer’s spotlight might well consider that we are their greatest threat to liberty, I would argue that this title belongs more accurately with our elected leaders. Our limits as police officers are defined by them. What they demand is what we do and what they allow is what we do. When we get orders to write more tickets, knowing full well that it is revenue driven rather than public safety driven, our Constitution suffers. When more and more personal responsibility laws are passed and pressed onto the shoulders of law enforcement (yes I know that lives are saved by helmets, seat belts, and no-smoking regulations) freedom suffers. When our armed government agents begin to be seen less as crime fighters and more as nannies and tax collectors our credibility suffers.
Those of us carrying the badge must be vigilant of our own understanding of the element of freedom Justice Brandies recognized. But for the larger goal of the kinds of freedoms that were sought by our Founders the answer is not for the police to shirk their lawful responsibilities, nor is it on the courts to arbitrarily nitpick at our honest efforts at interdicting crime. It is in the power of the people to hold their legislators accountable and stop allowing the law to replace our God-given common sense as America’s moral absolute.

Panic in the Streets!

A few years ago I served on a panel of judges reviewing essays written by 8th graders. The subject was school bus safety. More than one of these young media consumers was willing to exclaim that MILLIONS of children are injured every year in bus accidents! Hyperboles of disaster attempt to boggle our senses every day and we indulge it like chocolate. Our sense of shared stress goes beyond the shared national grief of the September 11th terrorist attacks; we look around nervously at shopping malls since Omaha, and wince at the latest school violence news story. A good friend of mine proudly shared that he had taught his children to run and scream any time they were approached by a stranger. I couldn’t help but imagine the poor kid’s first job interview.

Are your children safe? Perspective is often a matter of mathematics. Let’s take school bus safety for example. The headlines flashed “17,000 School Bus Injuries Yearly: Number of Kids Hurt 3 Times Higher Than Previously Thought” ( After sucking frightened parents into reading the article, the writer goes on to cite that 97% of the youngsters sent to the ER were treated and released. Let’s face it, in today’s lawyered-up world, what decision maker would look at a busload of kids involved in a fender bender and not send everybody to the ER for a check? Even given that some of those 97% were scary hurts and cuts let’s look at raw numbers provided in that same article. The 17,000 students sent to ERs represent a tiny fraction of the 23,500,000 kids transported 4,300,000,000 miles every year. A truer headline would be “School Bus Transportation Amazingly Safe!”

I was a police chief in Colorado many miles away from Boulder when the 1996 JonBenet Ramsey murder mystery invaded the holidays. The six year old’s death in her comfortable home created another wave of our shared American anxiety. The first of many calls to my office was from a parent I knew who asked how she could protect her child from being snatched away. My first question to her was whether she always kept her children in seat belts and child restraints when in the car. Her answer was a timid and quizzical “Well… no.” I explained that the two highest injury causes to children were child abuse and car crashes ( Child abductions do occur, but at a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of public perception. Child abuse is almost always perpetrated by those entrusted with the child, not by strangers.

Based on the scary stories you hear about kidnappings, what would be your guess as the total number of children murdered every year in stranger abductions? According to a 2002 U.S. Department of Justice report cited by the highly regarded National Center for Missing and Exploited Children ( nearly 800,000 reports of missing children were filed in the year studied. A distillation of these events shows that 115 children were victims of stereotypical kidnapping. While I would not minimize the hazards of familial abductions, custody disputes, or the angst generated by a teenager staying with a friend without permission – all of which comprise the vast majority of missing children reports - finding that two of these grisly events occur every week is a much different perspective than believing that thousands occur every day.

At heart, I am a cop. That means I know that tragedy is always lurking a heartbeat away for any of us. But the reality – the hard, statistical reality – is that your child can be raised with some common sense care and supervision and very likely live through the day. Relax.

Seven Habits of Highly Defective Police Departments

A recent comment on Chuck Remsberg's article in's newsletter on 7 habits of successful departments suggested an article on unsuccessful departments. I thought that was a good idea. Here are seven characteristics of weak police agencies.

Serving the wrong customer - The first customer of a police leader is the officer in the patrol car. If officers treated citizens the way some supervisors treat officers there would be complaints rolling in on a daily basis. Compassion, communication, respect within a department creates the same attitudes on the street. If you want cops who care about the citizens you need leaders who care for their cops.

Pretending to do community policing - Chiefs are forced to claim they are doing community policing and will attach that label to the slenderest thread of something that resembles it. Genuine community policing involves bringing diverse interests into a discussion of community problems. Line level officers are critical to the success of collaborative efforts and must be empowered with discretion and resources. Public relations, crime prevention, and community meetings don't amount to community policing but often are substituted for the hard work of communicating and collaborating.

Assuming integrity -Some departments over-assume police delinquency and have no trust in the professionalism of their officers. At the equally distressing opposite end of that spectrum is a department with no accountability and no healthy policy in place to maintain integrity. Audits and reviews of all aspects of policing that are subject to discretion and abuse should be a part of operational structure. This includes evidence, petty cash, working with youth, drug enforcement, traffic enforcement, and attendance patterns. Monitoring officer conduct maintains discipline and serves as an early warning system for officers who need guidance, and rewards and encourages integrity.

Exotic training - The default training strategy of ineffective police departments is "scheduling by brochure" - the lack of a focused set of training objectives in favor of catching training as it happens by. While it's good to offer specialty training to keep officers interested and motivated, sending an officer to underwater evidence recovery school makes little sense when basic competencies remain unmastered. Underperforming police agencies fail to establish a cohesive and relevant training plan.

Bootstrap counseling - Agencies that do not attend to the psychological health of their officers will suffer loss of productivity, shortened officer careers, and higher levels of sick leave and injury. Ignoring the traumatic events - or defining traumatic events as "just part of the job" - creates a sense of hopelessness in officers that can lead to a slow erosion of their effectiveness. Regular supportive and preventive services should be as important as any other department operational consideration.

Line led culture - Leadership requires the establishment and maintenance of culture and tradition. Departments that fail to create a sense of identity, mission, and purpose from its leaders will create their own out of the basic human need for belonging and identity. Values of hardened and cynical officers can dominate an agency if not countered by positive and rich symbols, ceremonies, language and traditions established by high performing leaders.

Unshared leadership - Leaders who fail to understand that they are not always the smartest person in the room fail to cultivate the intellect and influence of their officers and staff. Ideas must be genuinely welcomed, available for consideration, and rewarded. Leaders may not want to share power, but it is essential that they share influence. Not every idea is a good one, but not every good idea comes from the command staff.

Underperforming law enforcement agencies are almost always governed by fear of engagement with managers. Effective policing is accomplished with an artful blend of strong leadership and discipline balanced by trust and support of those who do the hard work of the agency on the streets. Mutual respect and communication will strengthen the agency and multiply its effectiveness in serving the community.

Hunting For Heroes

An idea for reality television stopped one federal agent at the reality part. Chris Allen is stationed in his home state of Missouri. Although serving now in a metropolitan area, Allen grew up as an avid hunter in the woods and fields of southern Missouri. As a sportsman he was looking at possible careers in baseball and professional hunting while finishing his criminal justice degree. After graduating at the top of his class at the prestigious Missouri Police Corps training academy he worked the streets in a St. Louis suburb. He finished his Master’s degree while working with BATF agents on a gang task force and began the long application process to join that federal agency.

Allen didn’t lose his Ozark accent or his passion for hunting to urban policing. He and former police partner Chuck Bowles began researching the feasibility of hosting a hunting show for television. Part of the concept was to follow police officers who were also hunters and catch them at work and play. One show idea was a charity hunt for disabled lawmen. To his shock, Allen didn’t readily find an organization with the sole mission of serving disabled cops. The dreams of television faded as the idea for helping disabled police officers through outdoor activities came into focus. The result is Hunting for Heros. “We are a group of law enforcement officers who felt a calling to serve our disabled brothers and sisters. We feel it our duty to provide for our fellow brothers and sisters” says Allen.

HFH is experiencing success and the challenges of growth. Support for HFH has been enthusiastic but that doesn’t automatically translate to the dollars needed as the organization begins serving more disabled law officers. The first event was such an inspiration that two of the participants asked to serve on the HFH board. Several tournaments and activities are scheduled for 2011, just the second year of operation for Hunting for Heroes.

The future of HFH includes obtaining property to provide ongoing camping experiences available year-round. A supportive counseling environment with peers and the continued fellowship of the law enforcement community will be integrated into the outdoor experience. “They just want to get out and hang with the boys in blue and forget about their injury for a while” says Allen. Another goal is to develop scholarship programs for spouses who may need new skills to become sole supporters after the loss of an officer’s full time income from his or her disability.

Hunting for Heroes can be found on Facebook as well as its own website ( and is always open to suggestions and support. Heroes helping heroes. What a concept.

How to be an Arrogant Cop

Genuine confidence shows in a competent officer's speech, bearing, and most importantly in the quality of work he or she does. Confidence is associated with career success, street survival, and it engenders the respect of peers. Confidence comes from real knowledge, experience, and skilled performance of one's work. None of these positive attributes are associated with arrogance.

Arrogance is a poor substitute for confidence. Arrogance appears where confidence is lacking. Arrogance is shallow, serves no good purpose beyond one's own ego, and is an impediment to real success. Arrogance continues because it works on some level with some people. It is sometimes mistaken for confidence, success, or genuine superiority. There are always the ignorant groupies that have no baloney filter and will mistake arrogant posturing for genuineness. It also relieves the arrogant person of a drive to learn more, be a better person, and invest in the wisdom of others since he or she believes they have achieved the pinnacle of knowledge.

If you feel that arrogance might work for you or a colleague, here are some tips to increase your arrogance quotient:

1. Work on "the look". Lean your head back a little bit and almost imperceptibly squint your eyes so that you appear to be looking down at everyone you meet. Cock your head slightly to the side as a sign of disbelief and skepticism at everything you hear. Roll your eyes subtly, or at least flutter your eyelids. Pose with one foot slightly ahead of the other, as though you were sipping a martini at a Hollywood party. Let your head bob and use a condescending laugh when someone else proposes an idea or plan - or just come right out and say "yeah, right".

2. Make your organization your shield. You're a state cop, an investigator, the top paid agency, the biggest organization, the best cars, the baddest bad guys, or whatever makes you feel superior. Whatever job you have, it's the best and we should all envy you for it. You might have gotten where you are by a fluke or the seat of your pants, but your association with some notion of superiority bolsters your reputation. By merely carrying a certain badge you've obviously seen more, done more, been braver, been better trained, and seen more awful stuff than the next guy. The discussion is over; if you ain't like me you ain't nothin'.

3. Prop yourself up by putting others down. Amplify the mistakes of others. Make no effort to put yourself in their shoes - they should be in yours. Assume the worst of others and play your own mistakes off as professional discretion. You're a rule breaker because the rules are for other schmucks. Other professionals will eventually stop sharing their experiences with you since you always have to have the last word and the better story. They'll know if you’re talking everybody else down then they will get treated the same way behind their back. Eventually all you'll ever hear is yourself repeating how great you are with no one wasting their breath to tell you otherwise.

4. Shut yourself off from learning. After all, there are two ways to do something: your way and the wrong way. When you go to a class be sure to tell any instructor how you see it. Talk to the people next to you about your experience and ignore the trainer, lean back with your arms folded, avoid participating unless it's to challenge or correct. Don't put yourself in a position to be vulnerable or admit you're not an expert. If you are motivated to be the best, do it to beat your peers, not to improve yourself or be a better public servant. Rely on your past achievements and tell the same war stories over and over.

5. Make sure the public knows. Establish your authority in citizen contacts by bullying behavior. Be personally offended by traffic violations and petty offenses. Lecture everyone and treat them like wayward teenagers. Point out the obvious, and be ready with a tart response for every predictable excuse or comment. Don't ask sincere questions seeking information; ask questions with a goal of embarrassing the person. Make sure they understand you and make no effort to understand them.

If you know a cop who just isn't quite arrogant enough, share this article with them. Maybe they'll correct me on something. After all, they already know everything, right?