Officer Joe Sears
Officer Ryan Riedy
Officers Ryan Riedy and Joe Sears started their careers today. They both graduated from the 97th Class of the Mid Michigan Police Academy in Lansing on Friday night, May 13. Both are fellow Spartans having graduated from MSU in Criminal Justice (like me). Sears is from Lapeer and Reidy from Waterford. Riedy’s cousin, Mike Riedy is a member of our Fire Department. They both received awards from their academy class–driving, report writing, academics, marksmanship and weapons management.
They took their oaths of office this morning in the presence of city officials, command staff and their family and friends. The oath of office is a really, really big deal:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of this state, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of police officer in and for the City of Auburn Hills according to the best of my ability.
An oath is a statement of loyalty. In this case it is a statement of loyalty to our constitution and the laws of our state. Failure to carry out those duties can actually be a crime – malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office. It is a serious undertaking and we treat it like that. When a person graduates from a police academy they are not yet an officer. When they become employed as an officer they are not yet and officer–not until they take that oath of office. It is binding on a person.
As I watched Riedy and Sears take their oaths today I thought about what their futures may bring. All of us here will do everything we can to teach them the right and proper ways to be an officer. To meet the daily challenges of this job with integrity and perseverance. Their families were rightly very proud of them today. I am too. But I know the challenges ahead. It isn’t an easy job. Not everyone can do it. People who choose it feel a calling to it — most don’t wake up one day and decide to become a police officer. They will tell you that they wanted it from them time they were small children–they just know it is the job for them. Police officers are not chosen because they are drawn to the power and authority aspects of the job –not here anyway. Officers will tell you that they see it as a helping profession – they want to help the community and do good in the world. We know that doing good in the world often requires that a person who has done wrong be held accountable –and the police are the ones who enforce that accountability.
Their next challenge is to pass field training – 3 months of close supervision and training by a qualified officers followed by 10 days of “shadow” in which they are observed by a training officer as a test to determine if they are ready to be a solo performing police officer. Everyday of those 3 months and the 10 “shadow days” will be rated by a trainer on how well they did or didn’t learn the challenges of the day. It is an important process and if a person doesn’t pass they cannot be a police officer. Most departments have a very similar training program.
I wish them long and healthy careers here at Auburn Hills. It is a great job in a great community.
If you have been a reader of my blogs for awhile you will have noticed that I have very strong opinions on the subject of standards for police officers. You may know that we are required to have a license from the state to practice our profession. We are required to attend a police academy, study required subjects and pass a comprehensive test. The last step to becoming licensed is to be hired by a department who then activates the license.
Being hired by a department is a serious matter. The cities that hire officers are required by law to perform some steps before hiring. One is to do a comprehensive background investigation. We do that using a private investigator so that we have a 3rd party evaluation of individual. We look for a clean record, and other kinds of things that should exclude a person like evidence of lying or biased behavior. Because history repeats itself. If they have done it in their past it is likely that they will do it in their future. Why would we choose to take a chance? Our duty is to the community not to any police applicant.
The other very important step is the psychological evaluation. It is required in Michigan. We use a specially trained psychologist to evaluate each candidate in an entire day of testing and interview. We need to know who they are as a person and rule out any troubled individuals. But like Colorado, despite the fact that it is required many cities save money by asking the medical doctor to sign the form certifying the individual. No testing, no pysch interview, nothing. It is just a sidelight during the physical examination. I guess if they don’t offer to harm the doctor or a member of the staff that is good enough for the signature.
But the licensing agency, MCOLES, doesn’t have power to challenge those. You might recall that I am a commissioner so I have some knowledge of these issues. We have some bills before the Legislature right now as we have had over a number of sessions and one aspect is to strengthen the rules requiring that an exam take place. I continue to be disappointed that few see that aspect as important and worthy of attention.
And we have no power at all over police reserves. They may dress in uniform and look exactly like police but there are no rules at all about them unless the department establishes them. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is one agency with reserves that they monitor closely and establish rules of conduct.
And I think it should be required at other stages in an officer’s career. Like when they change departments –the new one should test again. And when they are promoted to supervise others. People can change somewhat over time and as they mature. And if they have served in a challenging assignment for a period of time –that can impact them. Investigating child abuse is one that comes to mind. That can take you off center.
Here is an article on the topic I found interesting:
Denver Post article on Colorado’s considerations of a requirement for psych evaluations for police officers.
Interested in being a police officer? Policing isn’t what you see in movies and television. Here is a realistic way to see what a police officer’s job is really like. View the segment and then answer the questions to see if a police job is a good fit for you.
Virtual Ride Along – Discover Policing.
The ride along was produced by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.