Sergeant Suckup


After reading the title so many cops instantly identified the Sergeant Suckup in their world. For those working in larger agencies, they might be able to name many of them.

What qualifies a person for this characterization?

Sergeant Suckup

Sergeant Suckup is more concerned with appeasing bosses than leading troops. He would order officers to drink toilet water if it came down the chain of command. That’s not leadership, it’s stupidity. A leader would challenge the ridiculous nature of this directive.

Blind obedience is valuable in certain settings, but in general day-to-day operations within a police organization, it does nothing more than make everyone look stupid.

Sergeant Suckup knows how to do one thing well; get his or her nose so far up the south-end of the command staff that suffocation clouds judgment.

How did Sergeant Suckup develop? Easy! The ambition to advance in rank outweighs all other influencing factors in life. As a result, making the boss happy supersedes doing the right thing, in the right way, and for the right reasons.

Blind-followership helps steer the ship into the lighthouse!

I am not advocating insubordination, but assertive supervision. This includes frank discussions with superiors. Blind-followership helps steer the ship into the lighthouse!

Salty Dog

There is a certain way to determine if you’re Sergeant Suckup. Ask the Salty Dog sitting in the far corner of roll call with minimum time until retirement. While this person may or may not be the wisest one in the organization, you will receive unvarnished opinions from him. And if you’re viewed as a suckup with little to no value to the officers, he’ll let you know.

Sergeant York

But this article is not meant to malign the reputation of Sergeant Suckup. He does that to himself everyday. It is to affirm the value of his polar-opposite; Sergeant Alvin York. The real-life Sergeant York was one of the most decorated soldiers during World War I, and someone worthy of being followed into battle. Officers will follow the Sergeant York style of leader into battle because of the competent investment made in their welfare.

The Sergeant York persona has remembered to represent the perspective of line officers to command staff as well commands from staff to the officers in the trenches. It can be a tough balancing act, but an all-important one if true leadership exists.

It isn’t about style points as much as hitting the target.

Interestingly enough, a majority of officers have relayed details regarding walking away from the business due to Sergeant Suckup. Yet when asked, officers everywhere mention a specific sergeant in their life that had the greatest impact on their career due to the positive nature in which he or she led the troops.

It isn’t about style points as much as hitting the targetSergeant York zeroes in on the right targets. Sergeant Suckup believes the bullseye is on the back of his officers.

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

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Jim McNeff

Jim McNeff worked in military and civilian law enforcement for 31 years. He retired as a police lieutenant with the Fountain Valley Police Department in Orange County, California. He currently serves as the editor-in-chief with Law Enforcement Today. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from Southwest University and graduated from the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute as well as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) course, Leadership in Police Organizations. He authored "The Spirit behind Badge 145" and "Justice Revealed." He is married and has three adult children and three grandchildren. You can contact him at jrmcneff@gmail.com or view his website www.badge145.com. You can also follow him on Facebook at "Badge 145 - Trending Truth" or Twitter @jimmcneff.


The people that promoted Sgt. Suckup to begin with are just as bad if not worse for an organization.

IA lurks around every corner and upper command staff wants stool pigeons to make sure all “misconduct” is reported. Leaders don’t get promoted, supervisors do. Gotta find those that will bow down to the ones over them, even if that means burning down the street officers that work themselves down to nothing. When officers get sly to the game they slow down and you see officers fresh out of FTO dropping gears cause they see folks getting yoked up for dumb stuff. You gotta watch your backs brothers and sisters on and off the streets. Don’t let supervision mess with your head and stop you from making the decision you need to make to protect yourself. We are cops and we put up with it cause we don’t want anything else.

For whatever reason, this is typical within all agencies this day and age. You have people promoted because of who they know, not what they know. I know of a chief that went straight from being an investigator to being in charge just because the city administration likes him. You can tell that he never did the job of a sergeant, lieutenant or captain.

I also know of another person who got promoted, even though he failed out of field training. He is now an assistant chief and second in command of the swat team. They liked him and let him do office work just so they wouldn’t have to let him go, but he is buddies with the sheriff.

People sure don’t get promoted on merit or skill anymore and it’s been like that for some time now. This is the future leadership of law enforcement. I don’t know what it is like in the rest of the Country, but here in the south, the good old boy system is alive and well.

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