Choosing the right officer for the job
POLICE CHIEF PETE CUMMING
The police uniform symbolizes a sense of pride, honor and achievement to the professional officer. To the public, the uniform projects a sense of safety, power and authority. The notion that earning the right to wear the uniform illustrates the police officer has achieved a certain standard in training, ability, and ethical character is one that is universally acknowledged.
After graduating the police academy, and following months of instruction under the watchful eye of a half dozen seasoned training officers, the rookie is released to “become” a police officer.
In a moderate to large city the officer is repeatedly exposed to a wide range of situations requiring the use of prior training as well as the ability to effectively improvise, applying new and creative techniques in problem solving.
The next five years are crucial in shaping the career of the officer and will determine if law enforcement will indeed become a life-long occupation. During this important period the successful officer will acquire the skills and intuitive abilities that separate career officers from those who will correctly chose another path. For those achieving this kind of long-term success in public service the Town of Longboat Key Police Department is a perfect fit.
The Longboat Key Police Department currently employs seven civilian staff workers and 17 sworn law enforcement officers. The average LBK officer comes to us after years on the job, typically serving in a setting much different than that found on the Key. The average LBK officer has more than 10 years of police experience before ever donning the Longboat uniform.
Serving the needs of a unique community requires special skills and a well developed professional foundation gained only after years of “on the job training”. The notion that a young, ambitious rookie could emerge from the police academy and acquire the experience needed while working on Longboat Key is unrealistic.
The selection process in finding and hiring a Longboat Key Police Officer involves a careful and thorough evaluation of the candidate, with emphasis on training, experience and character. The infrequency of crime on the Key makes training an inexperienced officer impractical; the veteran officer has the advantage of drawing from practical experience when the inevitable occurs.
Another consideration in the recruiting process is a bit less measurable, but equally important to choosing the right officer. Training and experience can be calculated by taking into consideration the applicant’s years on the job and continuing, career related training. While chasing criminals, writing traffic tickets, and arresting the bad guy gets the attention, the primary duty of every law enforcement officer is to “protect and serve”.
The ability to balance enforcement with compassionate public service is a fundamental characteristic in police work, particularly in a community like Longboat Key.
The Longboat Key community is accustomed to a police department focused on providing the highest level of service possible, while protecting life and property. Each Longboat Key police officer selected to serve is committed to these high goals and has continually demonstrated this dedication while performing his or her duties.
Finding an applicant with the rare combination of qualities required to become a Longboat Key police officer is difficult, but to compromise would be a disservice to the department and the community.