Officers are by nature distrusting individuals, as we see the
worst of what humanity has to offer. Day in and day out officers go to
work knowing that at any moment they could make the ultimate sacrifice.
However, as of late the concerns are not coming from the outside. They are coming from our own department.
I have spoken many times to the chief about the distrust officers
have of upper management. He claims he understands it and is working to
build the trust with the rank and file. I wrote an article last month
regarding traffic stops and why they are down across the city, and this
is true with most police agencies.
In this day and time when everyone wants “transparency,” we see that
it only goes one direction. The department started this Being First
Program to change the culture of the police department, yet I truly feel
that our culture was not the issue. It is the distrust that our
officers have with the leadership of the department.
It all started with the discipline and how it affected morale
throughout HPD. Whether real or perceived, the discipline that was
being administered for minor violations led to this distrust. To be
fair, the current administration is trying to change things, but it is
all about the messaging.
Officers at many of the stations are told that because of call volume
and manpower issues that they are not allowed to partner up. Even
though the Chief said, “if at all possible” officers should be allowed
to ride two-person units.
Now here we are with the next latest and greatest drain on patrol
officers. The chief has put out his new one-traffic-stop-a-day
productivity level for everyone in a marked patrol car. I can
understand this in CRU, DRT and other proactive units. But when we are
so short-handed that officers can’t ride two-men because of calls
holding and response times, traffic stops are the last thing on the
How can we trust a department that will say that you must keep
response times down but still conduct your one traffic stop a day?
Again, let me stress that this is a messaging issue. Had the chief
simply added a line that stated, “Officers should do everything possible
to be proactive, but supervisors MUST use common sense when looking at
an officer’s productivity standards.”
There will be those supervisors who are by the book and if you do not
conduct a traffic stop a day, they will downgrade your JPR, even if you
ran 300 calls last month.
We all know them! We encourage officers to be proactive, but that
does not always equate to productive. Most of our officers are out on
patrol every day being productive, running calls, and serving the
Mandated traffic stops will not help to build community trust. This
requirement very well could be detrimental to the relationships that the
department expects us to build.