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The Camaraderie On Patrol: A Recipe For Success

by John Hensley
The Camaraderie On Patrol: A Recipe For Success

When I initially started out as a police officer, I spent the first five years of my career on patrol. During that time, I worked the same shift, with the same supervisors, and the same core group of cops every single day. My coworker and I had it down to a science by the time we finished; we knew each other so well that we could almost calculate each other’s every move, and we could tell from the tone of our voice over the radio whether or not we needed assistance or whether it was just about time for us to take a break for lunch.

It is essential to have a positive working connection with your fellow employees, and this is true whether you work for a police department that consists of three officers or three thousand officers. Working the beat on a regular basis is quite a bit different than working in corporate America and chatting with Joe Blow from the accounting department while standing around the water cooler.

There is a possibility that you will need to save the life of your spouse or vice versa. Your safety and the safety of your fellow officers on the beat may be ensured when you have a solid, trustworthy, and functioning connection with your other officers, not to mention that it forms quite a fraternity. The spirit of camaraderie, on the other hand, must never, under any circumstances, be misunderstood to mean covering up an injustice committed by another officer. You can see what may happen as a result of doing something like this from the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles or the Danziger Bridge incident in New Orleans.

At all costs, you should steer clear of spreading rumors about matters unrelated to work or engaging in unhealthy “stabbing in the back.” Save “conversations about such-and-such” until after work over coffee or supper rather than interrupting your day with them.

Believe me when I say that going out on a disturbance, jumping in to help your partner, and getting a knuckle sandwich to the face will establish trust and camaraderie between the two of you. It will not help the situation if you discuss the personal troubles of another cop with other police behind that officer’s back. If you avoid assisting another officer in need, you run the risk of being perceived as an outsider in the department. On the other hand, if you offer to handle the report call so that your friend may finish his lunch break, the favor will be returned to you.

If you earn the trust of officers who are experiencing difficulties in their personal lives, those officers may very likely confide in you even when you are not on the job because they trust you.

If I were an officer, I would like to take the approach that is outlined in the biblical parable that says, “Take the log out of your own eye before you try to take the splinter out of mine.” This is not because I am religious or anything like that; rather, it is because I believe it teaches a valuable lesson.

People take note, even higher-ranking officers and even the top brass in some cases when a patrol platoon or shift is functioning in a way that is harmonious with one another. When compared to groups of officers who can’t even trust each other with the smallest of tasks, much alone their lives, a group that gets along well will almost always have fewer complaints and a better level of success. And before you realize it, you could just have lifetime friends who know you better than anyone else, and you won’t need to call for backup anymore since they will already be there by your side.

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