For most of my adult life, I have been a part of organizations that have used the phrase “held to a higher standard.” From my military days (Air Force) to the last 22 years with Metro, I have heard the phrase “you are held to a higher standard.” I and many of us have been held to a high standard our entire lives. My parents always expected me to conduct myself with respect and to set a great example for how people should conduct themselves. So working in a career where it is expected was easy.
Over the past few years, I have seen a huge change in the law enforcement career field. Now more than ever, officers are scrutinized, judged and second-guessed at a very high level. These days, it seems like every conversation I have with an officer begins with, “When are you going to retire?” Ten years ago, retirement was the furthest thing from my mind. I knew people who planned on working for 20 to 30 years and sometimes even past that. When I tested for this Department, there were over 400 people testing for 50 spots. My Academy had 35 people, and as of today, I think there are nine of us left. I recently spoke to a young married couple in their early 20s who both resigned from Metro; they both did roughly about three to five years with the Department and decided to head for the hills. They moved to a new city and are now working for a new department. Back in the day, it was very rare for someone to leave this Department and go to another department.
The question is why. Las Vegas is a pretty decent place to live, and the LVMPD pays a pretty comparable wage. I asked a former officer why they made the decision to leave and their response was, “It is bad enough when the public treats you like crap, but when you feel like your own Department does not back you up, it is an even worse feeling.” The problem they expressed to me was that discipline was handed down for an infraction, but when a supervisor did the same thing, nothing was done. Unfortunately, it is a rare occasion where a supervisor is disciplined on this Department. Years ago, I had a captain tell me that using bad language and yelling at your employees is a management style and the right way to speak to employees. Well, I beg to differ. When your sergeant or lieutenant decides that it’s OK to drop an F-bomb on an employee, I feel that the standard has changed. So what is your recourse? I guarantee if you tell that supervisor to watch the way they are speaking to you, eyes will be on everything you do. I believe some of these supervisors are petty and abuse the fact that they can control your career with the stroke of a pen. I recently had a supervisor claim that he was upset with his troop because he felt disrespected. The fact that he dropped a couple of F-bombs on this troop is OK, I guess, but when it was pointed out to him he became upset.
So you wonder why people are leaving in droves. The grass may not be greener on the other side, but it is a lot easier to maintain. If you are a supervisor, you should hold yourself to the highest standard and you should be a role model for the younger troops. If LVMPD conducted exit interviews, I am willing to bet they would be surprised at the reasons people are leaving. I personally think we have some outstanding supervisors. One particular lieutenant comes to mind; this young man is engaged and concerned with the people tasked to work for him. Unfortunately, that is not the norm. My grandfather had a saying, “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, then they must be pretty messed up.”