Rookie Tips
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This portion of the website is intended to be a place for Auxiliary and Reserve Officers and even rookie Certified Officers to avail themselves of the wisdom and experience of more seasoned Officers. Sometimes coming from someone of experience, instead of a textbook or training film makes all the difference in the world.

I subscribe to a law enforcement discussion group and have learned a lot from the law enforcement professionals in the months that I've been a subscriber. Recently there was a discussion thread regarding rookie tips. When the thread died I requested more because of the valuable input I got. As promised, I am crediting the contributing Officers. If you have a tip you'd like to share, there is a form at the bottom of this page that you can fill out and submit. Or, you can email me with your tip and I'll get it on the site and credit you, too.

 

Rookie Tip #1: From: Richard Ferguson

General info,

I often tell rookies to conduct themselves as if they were taking a polygraph tomorrow! That will keep you pretty clean.

 

 
Rookie Tip #2: From: Andy, OKDPS

The rule I live by is simple but it works for me. In the process of making a decision or taking an action I consider how it would feel if I saw the results of my action on the news at the end of my shift. I also consider how the public, my peers and my family members might view me as a result of my decision or action. As we all know, this is not such an unrealistic scenario as the results of our decisions and actions (as police officers) often do end up on the news. Another thing to remember is that this rule applies on AND off duty. It would not be the first time the media dragged an officer through the mud because of a poor decision he made off duty. Best of luck to you.

 

 
Rookie Tip #3: From: Don Basham, USDOJ

I stress two things to my people. Integrity - If you say you are going to do something, do it (unless of course it turns out to be unethical, immoral or illegal). 2nd is really key; Honor/Honesty - Do not be tempted by peers or anyone else to get involved in corruption. That was one of the first major events that I watched occur in my career and "Thank God" I never let it get into my path. The temptation may look easy and the rewards great but there is no such thing as "easy money". I have told many a young rookie this "You are born as a scale. One side has a pot for services; the other a pot for rewards. Life will not cheat you as long as you don't try to cheat life. The rewards will equal the services and keep the scale level. I may not be a millionaire but I consider myself RICH. I still pull in air and push it out after 36 hard years of service, have the same wife I had 31 years ago, a son doing great in the computer industry and most of the American Dream tangibles that we strive to obtain.

 

 
Rookie Tip #4: From: John Fitzwilliam,    P.D.  Nassau County, New York

An everyday skill which makes for an effective police officer is the ability to communicate with people.  You must know how to talk to people!!!   Treat everyone as you would want a COP to treat YOUR family member.  You don't have to like everyone you meet.  As a cop,  you will certainly meet your share of losers and obnoxious jerks.  Don't let this sour you on the entire population.  Treat the people you meet with civility.   Remember that these people are stressed out by something.  It might not be a big deal to you, but the average citizen has very few encounters with his/ her police department.   Try to make a good impression and be professional on every call.   

Stay safe & well.

 

 
Rookie Tip #5: From: Chris Miller

As a rookie myself, I have found out and firmly believe that 9 out of 10 situations, the officers determines his own outcome. I get a lot of compliments on how respectful I treat the people I arrest. And by doing that, I hardly ever have to resort to any type of force. And it all comes from knowing how to communicate on different levels with people. Effective communication is as good of a weapon as anything.... And this comes from a third shift officer that only has one other officer working while taking care of a whole county.

 

 
Rookie Tip #6: From: Dan Lynch, Chief of Police, Kearney, NE

I'll chime in on this one.  Mine is a combination of things but relies heavily on the golden rule with one admonition.  Always treat others as you would want to be treated but I try to remind people it is easier to start out friendly and if necessary move to being "less friendly", because if you start out as "less friendly" you can never get back to friendly.  I also tell them that there are three things that get cops in trouble, "booze, bills and personal relationships".  I've made that a bit more PC and gender neutral over the years.  I also remind them that the badge they wear does not make them Superhuman, bullet proof, or brilliant - heck it does not even make them right, it does however make them responsible and that they should never forget that.

Most people who come into this profession, have a deep and sincere desire to help others.  I warn them that over time that is a feeling and a sense that they will have to work to maintain and that cynicism will attack and to be wary of that.  I truly believe that most officers start out well intentioned and because of our own internal society, they become cynical after time.

 

 
Rookie Tip #7: From: Sgt. Robert Cooney St. Louis Police Department

There are several things that I would tell a new officer. Probably first and foremost is that now that you have completed training, you are still the same person you were before you started. Except that now you have a new profession. You bleed the same, hurt the same and feel exhilaration the same. Now you have to channel it to a different perspective. Self survival, ingenuity, perseverance, self control and a myriad of other emotions that you will experience day to day.

Also, after you complete field training, you are not invincible. Do not fall into the trap that you no longer need an assist on those lone car stops. Even veteran officers cannot determine when a car stop will turn sour, surely you can't. This is not to say you cannot do the job, only that you desire to go home in the morning, afternoon or night. That is the ultimate personal goal of every officer I know.

Do a scene investigation as if you were the victim. Even on a simple burglary, think of yourself as the victim, and what you would want included in the report. The more information a Detective has to work with from the beginning, the better chance he has to solve the crime. Little details mean a lot. It may show a pattern if the burglar always cuts a screen, or uses a glass cutter, or always enters a bathroom window. These little details will help a detective notice a pattern or remember a prior perp.

Lastly, listen to the veteran officers, you will pick up little (and big) pieces of advice that you can apply to your career, that will help you immensely, and to be honest, you will see things not to do.

 

 
Rookie Tip #8: From: Sgt. Waltitia Hollman, Baltimore Police Department, Southern District

Rookie stuff:  

  • Communication and absolute nosiness are the keys to successful policing.
  • Listen and "hear" what people are saying to you.
  • Pay attention to what you are doing and stay focused.
  • Your word is your honor.....keep your word or people will ignore you.
  • Never turn your attention away from a suspect or potential suspect....not to talk with Ms Jones, other officers holding a "convention" on the scene, nor to salute a higher up. A wandering mind leads to knives in the body.
  • Just because you put cuffs on someone doesn't mean its all over...it isn't over until the cell door slams shut.
  • If you are a back-up unit, your job is to 'protect the primary officer' and not talk or help search suspects. If you are all searching suspects at the same time, who's watching your backs?
  • Listen to the veterans or they will stop helping you because obviously you know-it-all.
  • Let your public affairs guy or gal speak to the press until you develop the ability to speak for 5 min and say absolutely nothing.
  • Treat people with dignity no matter what their station is in life.
  • Last but not least .....This is not personal, this is business.

 

 
Rookie Tip #9: From: John P. Scott

Just an observation from being an FTO.  When answering one of those "Naked man sleeping in my front yard" calls,  Always handcuff subject before waking him up!  I'm getting too old to get thumped on with any regularity.

 

 
Rookie Tip #10: From: Lt. J.D. Hunt, Cerro Gordo Co. Sheriff Dept.

I'm a Lieutenant with a Sheriff's Dept. in Iowa that has 15 Deputy Sheriffs on staff and 25 jailers and dispatchers.  An old retired police officer told me something on the first day I worked here 18 years ago that I have tried to live by.  His advice was this - Always treat these people as you would want to be treated if you were in their place.  I've lived by that and have had very few problems in my career arresting even the baddest S.O.B.'s in our society.

Stay Safe

 

 
Rookie Tip #11: From: David Grenier, West Melbourne Police Department, West Melbourne, Florida

mike:

i have been with the west melbourne police dept for nine years.  have been a field training officer since march 1993.  the one thing i always tell my trainee's.

if you, or someone you are working with ever does something that gets you involved in a internal investigation.  TELL THE TRUTH.  i have seen more officers lose their jobs, over not telling the truth, just to cover someone else's butt. it is not worth losing your career over to help someone else out of the trouble they got themselves into.  if you make a mistake and tell the truth you are more likely to keep your job and only get disciplined.

 

 
Rookie Tip #12 From: Alan Hensley, Alabama

Always remember when you arrest someone you are taking them away from their families, surroundings and maybe their livelihood. Never take that lightly. And Always watch their hands and eyes.

 

 
Rookie Tip #13 From: Mike Faulds, Ontario Provincial Police (Retired)

Congratulations on your choice of profession. Good luck, and remember to end each shift in the same, or better, condition as you started it. A tip which I would like to pass along is this - if you are assigned to be the backup at an incident, such as a road block, or raid, or whatever, BE THE EYES for your fellow officers. This is not the time to be conducting your own search of vehicles, or gazing at the crowd. Your fellow officer's tend to let their guard down a bit knowing that you are there to cover them. DON'T put them in jeopardy. While this may seem impossible, I have seen it happen. I was one of the officers who was relying on my cover officer to protect me. He was found to be conducting his own checks of vehicles. Thankfully, nothing happened before I was able to ream him out.

 

 
Rookie Tip #14 From: Rich Ferguson, Howard County Sheriff Department Kokomo, Indiana

Dear Mike,

As a nineteen year veteran and a second generation LEO, I have trained many officers and found that most are good people deep inside. As an FTO, it is difficult to evaluate someone and match it against their personal desire to do well. A neat scenario that I treat all new recruits with is I have the rookie stand in front of roll call with a glass of water in one hand. In front of his senior officers, I explain to them that the glass of water represents all of the knowledge of law enforcement in that room. I then tell the rookie to put his index finger in the glass and watch a drop form on the end of it. I then explain to him that that particular drop of water is all that he knows about being a cop and that he has a lot to learn. A humbling experience to them especially when they just get out of the academy. Good luck and remember, BE POSITIVE!

 

 
Rookie Tip #15 From: Steve Walters, Western Australia Police Service

HONESTY: That is the main thing that you need. If you tell someone you are going to do something, do it. If you don't, the public will lose all respect for you and your fellow officers.

CONFIDENCE: While you still have a lot to learn, if you look good, you will be good. If you have confidence (not too much) people will do as you ask.

ASK: Don't tell. If you ASK someone politely, you are more likely to achieve your goal. If you TELL them what to do, they are more likely to try to defy you. You can always get tougher if they refuse when you ask.

Stay safe and welcome to the job!

 

 
Rookie Tip #16 From: Dorwin Sayer, City of Marshall (MI) Reserves

As you may notice starting your new career a lot of things need to be decided by you or so it may seem. But donít be surprised to learn that departmental policy and regulations along with administration will play a major role in what and how you are supposed to handle many of your situations. Keep in mind that the only thing you have complete control over is your integrity. So do whatever it takes to uphold your integrity because its all youíve got to really call your own. Once you compromise your integrity you can never get it back. 

Good luck!

 

 
Rookie Tip #17 From:  Dave

Visitor Department: Herscher P.D., IL / Lt. Kankakee County Aux. P.D.

Your most potent weapon is your mouth. How and what you say to people will determine if you get to go home safely at the end of your shift. I feel the most important and best training I have received was a course in "Verbal Judo".

I always treat people with respect and get respect in return. Even with the most difficult people, I have found that you need to give them choices of actions to take. However, you will want to make the choice that you want them to take the most pleasant for them. They will then, 95 out of a 100 times, make the choice you want them to and wind up cooperating with you and think it was their idea to do so. On numerous occasions after placing someone under arrest and transporting them to the detention center they have thanked me before I left. They will remember you and perhaps help you with some info you may need in a future investigation.

STAY SAFE!!

 

 
Rookie Tip #18 from Mike D
NYPD Highway Patrol Auxiliary
  • Always watch the crowd. Don't let the crowd watch you. 
  • Keep an eye on traffic. Never take your eyes off of oncoming vehicles.
  • Keep your distance when interviewing potentially negative individuals. People tend to get "in your face" when upset and it is the natural tendency to respond in kind.
  • Distance is your best defense.
  • Stay safe. Wear your vest. Look SHARP. ACT SHARPER.
  • Regards from the Big Apple.
  • Don't forget the HEROES of 9-11

 

 
Rookie Tip #19 from Brian Rollason
Ontario Provincial Police Auxiliary Sgt (13 Years)
  • Treat everyone as you would like to be treated yourself.
  • Always conduct your investigations to the best of your ability from the very beginning.
  • Always be impartial until your investigation is complete.
  • TRY NOT TO BE NEGATIVE, BECAUSE IT DESTROYS A DEPARTMENT'S MORALE!!!
  • Look professional and act professional and you will be treated as a professional!

 

 
Rookie Tip #20 from an Anonymous Officer with 27 Years Experience
University of Oklahoma Police Department

Be the officer you'd want to be stopped by.

Be the officer you'd want to be partnered with or trained by.

Be the officer you'd want contacting or interviewing your mother or other loved one.

That's not to say you shouldn't be safe - be safe first! But beyond conducting your contacts in a safe manner, there's plenty of room in professionalism to be polite/courteous and compassionate/caring.

The best cops have big hearts, and it shows in everything they do. How others (both peers and the public) perceive you DOES matter when you're a cop. It alls starts by how you perceive yourself, and how you WANT to be perceived.

What kind of cop do YOU want to be? No problem! BE that cop!

 

 
Rookie Tip #21 from Doug Peters
Reserve Officer with the Hudsonville, MI Police Department, 5 Years Experience

Working in a small city, mostly residential in nature, I have learned one thing that needs to be mentioned to all rookies.

It is really easy to get into the mindset that "This is small town America...it won't happen to me here." That type of thinking will get you a flag draped coffin and a 21 gun salute.

Treat the individuals you encounter with respect and courtesy...HOWEVER...

...ALWAYS TREAT THE SITUATION (whether it is a "routine" traffic stop...a "routine" dispatched call...a felony stop...a citizen contact, etc.) LIKE THE PEOPLE WANT TO HURT OR KILL YOU.

We don't need another name being read next May in Washington D.C. Yours or your partner's.

Stay ever vigilant, be safe and come home at the end of your shift.

 

 
 
Rookie Tip #22 from an Anonymous Officer with the Ada County Sheriff's Office, Boise Idaho
Certified Officer, 5 Years Experience

RookieTip:

-If you don't know where you are, you're screwed. If nobody else knows where you are, you're really screwed.

-There really are people out there who are just plain evil. Don't assume that everybody has a good side.

-There really are people out there who are decent. Don't assume everybody is a crapbag.

-Bring your personality to work with you. It'll get you alot farther with regular people and criminals than your robocop imitation will.

-Don't get overwhelmed by seemingly complicated calls. Just like eating a sandwich; if you start on one side and finish on the other, you'll eventually be done with it. If you go at it from all different sides, you'll make a mess.

-Regardless of what it is, take control of the situation. Once you do that, you have "all day" to figure out what to do next.

-Learn to write a good report. You can be a tactical superman, but you're only as strong as your reports in the eyes of the judge and jury.

-Don't let yourself become a disgusting fat body. Stay in shape and wear your uniform well. If you look like food, you'll be eaten.

 
 
Rookie Tip #23 from Edward Eum of the New York Highway Patrol Auxiliary
Auxiliary  Officer, 2 Years Experience
 
Always take just 10 seconds to observe a situation before approaching. Nothing will change in ten seconds at a job, but those ten seconds might make a difference in noticing something potentially dangerous. It's been taught but is an easily forgotten tip. Make notes of anything relevant you observe in those ten seconds.. you just never know what will happen. Remember, at any job you take, potentially your life is on the line. Keep safe, be aware and take care.
 

 

 
 
Rookie Tip #24 from Andy Rozell of Laingsburg, Michigan
Retired Reserve Officer, 7 Years Experience, Rank: Ordinance Officer
 
Ten things I learned as a Reserve Police Officer...

1) Always treat people with dignity and respect.

2) Learn how to smile and wave.

3) You will work with many officers as small towns are revolving doors for academy graduates. You will at some point have more experience than the officer "supervising" you. Keep them out of trouble, especially those with bachelor degrees. Not all of them will appreciate it!

4) Train, study, and listen!

5) Maintain a professional image. Remember, your uniform presence is a show of force. Shine those boots; know what a "gig line" is; if you don't know how to crease, make sure the dry cleaner does it; and leave those "Billy Bad-Ass" gloves off unless it's cold.

6) Justify your existence to the Dept. Eyes and ears always; proper positioning during contacts; learn to become the right hand of the officer you are working with. Wyatt Earp, Dirty Harry, RoboCop, and the Riggs and Murtaugh routines only work in the movies.

7) Justify your existence to the community. Talk with business owners, attend council and committee meetings, shake doors in inclement weather, eat your lunch in the school cafeteria instead of free at McD's, read books to elementary kids, play a game of checkers at the retirement home, and for heavens sake stop at every lemonade, popcorn, and cookie stand you find. In fact, go back for seconds.

8) It only takes one bad judgement call to damage public relations and reputations.

9) Unless you are in a decision making capacity, leave politics to the politicians. You don't have the luxury of an opinion, even if asked. Truth & facts are not opinions.

10) Murphy's Law!

 

 

  
 
Rookie Tip #24 from Sixto Lopez, Jr. of Forest Park PD, Forest Park, Illinois
Certified Police Officer, 1 Years Experience
 

RookieTip:

Remember, on the street everything is situational. Discretion is the key. The dispatchers are your life-line...if they don't know where you are, your backup also wouldn't know. Application is more beneficial than the written words. Through application comes experience. Respect goes a long way!

 

 

 

 

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09/14/2006

 

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