5 Mistakes Made by a New Officer


Every new officer makes mistakes. Here are five blunders made by someone very close to me. … All right, I confess, these were my errors. “Don’t let the same dog bite you twice,” a wise old guy once said. Mercifully, I acknowledge these shortcomings were never repeated.

  1. While driving “blacked out” through an industrial complex looking for burglars, you hop a curb and knock the muffler off the car when coming down the other side.
  2. When detaining a person for flipping you off, you broadcast for all to hear, “I’ll be out with one for contempt of cop.” Salty Sarge calls you to his office for a “counseling session.” And we all know how that goes, right?
  3. You decide to go hands on with a non-compliant partier standing two feet from a swimming pool. Since most fights go to the ground, you should not be surprised when you wind up in the “drink” in full uniform.
  4. Failing to arrive for your first graveyard shift, because it actually begins at 2200 hours on the calendar day prior to the day of the week on the schedule. In other words, graveyard on Monday actually begins Sunday night at 2200 hours.
  5. To add insult to injury, Salty Sarge had to call home to find out where you were. (See No. 4.) Naturally, you hastily respond to work, but all of your uniforms are at the dry cleaners and it’s after hours. So now you are the trainee who failed to show for work, AND when you arrive you don’t have any uniforms available. (You planned to pick them up prior to your next shift.) As a result, you are forced to work the entire night in plain clothes, so “Undercover Rookie” gets hung on your locker.

Did you notice that I drafted my shortcomings from the second person perspective? For the behavior analysis experts in the reading audience, you know that is how guilty people talk and write—in the second or third person. They do so to divert attention away from their culpability or connectedness to incriminating details.

Now that you know the “buckets-o-crap” that I stepped in during my rookie year, what are yours? Can you tell me in the first, second, or third person?

– Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today

(Photo courtesy Austin Zarling)

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