The greatest asset of any company or business is its people. How you treat and utilize those assets will determine your success rate. I have had many supervisors over the years, beginning with my military service and culminating with my career with the LVMPD. I would say that 90% of my supervisors have been really outstanding and have helped me get to this point in my career in public service. But it’s that other 10% who you really remember and can leave an undeniable stain on your life and career.
When I arrived at Nellis Air Force Base, my first supervisor was great. She had been prior Air Force and taught me how to navigate through the early stages of my career. My second supervisor taught me how to balance my life between career and service. I learned a lot from both of these individuals, and I believed that this was how supervisors treated their subordinates. Then I was deployed to Saudi Arabia, and the unit I worked in had two NCOs in charge of our group. The first guy was welcoming and excited to lead, and even in the dangerous situation we were in, he made it almost bearable. The second guy was the polar opposite — he was rude, demeaning and, for some reason, very angry. About three weeks later, we found out that he had failed out of officer training school and was assigned as an NCO.
One evening, this supervisor failed to conduct a required inventory of our supplies. I happened to be on shift and noticed that the manifest was not completed. I completed the checks and left a memo for the sergeant to sign it. The next day, he came to my dorm room and asked, “Who in the f— asked you to do this?” I explained that the chief had come by and was inquiring as to why it was not done, and I covered for the sergeant by telling the chief that I had been assigned the task and would get it done. He called me every name from “dumbf—” to “a—hole.” I was angry, and my first instinct was to break his jaw. But I spoke to the other sergeant and he explained that the problem was not with me, but that his counterpart was angry because he was a failure and enjoyed taking it out on other people. This taught me that being a supervisor is a task that some people are just not qualified to handle.
Fast-forward to my career with the LVMPD, and unfortunately people like that still exist. One of my first cases with the LVPPA involved a supervisor and a line officer. The supervisor spoke harshly to the officer and the officer refused to take it. I remember speaking to a captain about this, and he informed me that yelling and cursing at employees was a management style and a technique used by people in managing positions. That conversation took me back to Saudi Arabia and that sergeant.
Unfortunately, this behavior is still going on today. I became aware of an LVMPD supervisor using profane language and yelling at an officer. The last time I checked, if an officer spoke like that to a citizen, then the officer would be in violation of Department policy. Rank and status should not be used as a weapon to demean or treat subordinates with any level of disrespect, but it happens all too often. It is bad enough that the rank and file have to take it from the general public, but when you have to take it from the people who should be looking out for you, it tends to leave a feeling of trepidation and mistrust. I miss the old-school supervisors who would ask you how your weekend was and how the family is doing. If something happens to you, your first instinct should be to call your supervisor; if it is not, then there is a problem.
I spoke with a captain who explained to me how we have to build trust and a relationship with the citizens we are sworn to protect and serve. I reminded him, “Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.”