What Police Chiefs Tell Rookies on Their First Day

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What do you tell a rookie on his or her first day in law enforcement? Police chiefs across the nation share the advice and counsel they offer rookies before handing them their badge.

Enjoy, be quiet, have your brain like a sponge…

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Video Transcript

Chief Rich Wallace, Amberley Police Department, Ohio

“When a rookie comes in, the first thing we do is, when we sit and talk to them before we give them the badge and before we put them on the road, we just talk to them about honesty and integrity. You know when you wear that badge, we’re under a lot of scrutiny on an everyday basis, whether that’s your driving, whether that’s the way you treat people, the way you talk to people. It’s a privilege to wear the badge, so don’t take advantage of that.”

Chief Kevin Arnold, Smyrna Police Department, Tennessee

“Before I give them their badge, I sit them down, I tell them the two things that will get them fired. One is lying, that they are going to break a policy, they are going to wreck a patrol car, they are going to do something in their career that is, unfortunately, is going to result in disciplinary action. But don’t lie about it. If you lie about it, then your credibility’s shot and that’s all we have is police officers credibility.

“And the second thing I talk to them about is sex, and I tell them that more officers get fired over sex than anything else. But that’s the main thing that we talk to them about, really, is the credibility of being a police officer. Without credibility, you have nothing as a police officer.”

Chief Marc Montminy, Manchester Police Department, Connecticut

“Well, their primary objective is to return home at the end of the shift. Particularly young officers, they have a tendency to think that they can solve all the world’s problems and they can do it overnight. The reality is they respond to calls 100 miles an hour not realizing that the risk in getting to the call is actually more dangerous than what happens at the call. And they constantly risk their lives when they don’t need to. The older you get, the more experience you get in law enforcement, the more you consider those things and you start to slow down, do things safer. But when you’re young, you’re invincible.”

Captain Timothy Albright, Elk Grove Police Department, California

“That’s an overwhelming experience for most of those folks who come in brand new. We try as best we can to demystify what this job is about. We don’t want to lay too much upon them on the first day, but we want them to realize the importance of what they’re doing, that there’s a true calling for people that are drawn to this profession that they are attracted by this intrinsic gut to help people. And we try and reinforce that and remind them that, listen, there’s going to be times where that thought process is challenged but remember stay true to that gut and that will help guide you the rest of your career.”

Chief Kevin Schofield, Windham Police Department, Maine

“I believe our profession is one of honor. It’s essential for our society to function, we are a nation of laws. Recently we have beenĀ put through some trials and tribulations and we will work through that as the profession has over the course of years. But what I would tell them is don’t lose focus of the core, that it’s an honorable profession, it’s not meant for everybody and it’s really meant for people to serve and it’s truly a calling.”

Chief Kelly Stillman, Rocky River Police Department, Ohio

“To capsulize it, what do we tell a guy when he first walks in the doors: enjoy, be quiet, have your brain like a sponge, because this is a never-ending learning profession, and treat people the right way because the badge is a symbol of public faith and we honor that greatly.”