Looking Back: Young Officers These Days – By Scott Reitz

I recently attended an academy class to observe what was being taught these days. There is an old adage that when the police look young, you are getting up there in age.

Some of these recruits inspired confidence while others did not. Four or five of their numbers had already been fired/dismissed from the class within the first two weeks. One wonders about the initial selection process. It seems to me that my academy class was bit more squared away. We all had life experience, many of us had degrees from Universities and many had military experience. We had long since been separated from our parents and had to figure life out on our own. There is some real benefit to this sort of maturation process.

It’s rather hard to effectively settle a family dispute when you’ve been living in your mother’s basement. Without life’s lessons there is nothing to draw from.

We were not cut a lot of slack in my academy class. One single misstep and you were sent packing off the academy grounds within 30 minutes. We looked on it as a career as opposed to a job and most certainly it was not ‘welfare with a gun.’ Perhaps this is why so many of my classmates went the full distance of twenty years or more. I do not mean to be cynical, but there seems to be a more apathetic approach to police work today than in the past. I have spoken to supervisors who continually tell me that I left at the right time. I believe them. There are some really solid police officers out there and we come across these guys in our classes… I like them. Police are a reflection of society and with societal change – there will be changes in the gene pool from which we select our officers. Maybe If I shed some light on these changes it can be a step in the right direction for the future of our LEO youth.

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6 Responses to Looking Back: Young Officers These Days – By Scott Reitz

  1. Andre' Belotto says:

    I agree. As a sergeant for almost 16 years, and a member of the LAPD for 25 years, I can’t wait to retire. The main reason is that this no longer the Department I joined. My superiors think exactly like that: they are superior. Leadership is hard to find. We are slaves and our new slave masters are statistical numbers. EVERYTHING revolves around what will Compstat gurus think. Enough already.

    • E. Warner says:

      Sgt. Belotto, I like your reply to Scott’s posting about Police Officers of today. I joined the NYPD in 1986 and retired in Jan 2012 as a Lieutenant. I was a cop(PO) for 10 1/2 yrs before I made Sergeant. I did my best to look out for the cops who I worked with, not looking to “jam them up” but protect them……sometimes from themselves. The high ranking executive corps of the NYPD as I’m sure many other Police agencies are just looking out for their own well being, sadly loyalty is suppose to be a two way street . Their is no leadership only management. The job I joined isn’t the job I left either, so sad.

  2. Greg says:

    Uncle Scotty’s perception of the LE “job” vs “career” is a society flaw. In the business world, 20+ years ago, individuals worked their entire carrers at one company. The company was family. You worked issues between colleagues, rather than taking the easy way out and leaving.

    Another society flaw that has led to this, is the lack of hard work. Kids should be able to work before they are 16. I am only 36, but I began working full time during summers when i was 14 in a automotive shop. My boss was a hard ass German that whipped me into shape like a wet noodle. If kids knew hard work, they would treat jobs with higher regard, maybe as a carrer in that organization, trying to move up the ranks.

    As I said, a society flaw… And technology has not helped either.

  3. CM says:

    I guess I was one of those who was squared away. I was the oldest in my class at 35 with a house and a bride of 8 years so I would have to say that attributed to my survival mindset. Our class 7 years ago started with 37 and ended with 18. It was the smallest class to graduate until just this year when a class that started with 40 ended with 16!! From what I hear from the background investigators is that the brass are pushing numbers regardless of any “issues”. I have been an FTO for 4 years and I have only had an issue with one on the street. I really do not see things getting better the way society is being drug down by a permissive culture. Until that changes we who are in now will truly be the sharp end of the spear.

  4. Lance says:

    We’ve been noticing the same thing at the Phoenix P.D. Our Commander (Captain) related to us recently that he went out on a homicide. He found a group of officers standing at the scene. He asked where the body was. The young officers pointed to another group of young officers, who were spitting sunflower seeds within feet of the deceased! When the COMMANDER requested that these young officers please string up some crime scene tape, he was met with a loud sigh and a roll of the eyes! The young officer then said “I suppose. My car is way over there.”

  5. Arthur Oubre says:

    I retired 14 months ago. The majority of my time was spent as a patrol officer. I spent two years as a detective, hated that time. I spent about six years on motors. The problems I see are that a lot of new officers grew up watching COPS. They saw the fun part of the job never the boring side. Unfortunately it’s a paycheck not a career. When I started you had experienced officers who could mentor the younger guys. Now you have a two or three year officer training a new officer. Thanks to modern technology our new officers can tweet, text or facebook,but they can’t talk to people. The on-going push for numbers has lead to very poor arrests.

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