Do trained officers (small ‘o’) pose a potential threat to their supervisors?

1. Power Dynamics

Training enhances the skills and knowledge of police officers, which can potentially alter the power dynamics within a police department. Trained officers may gain increased confidence and capabilities, which might lead to challenges to Authority – well-trained officers might question or challenge their supervisors’ decisions more frequently, believing they possess superior or updated knowledge.

There may also be a shift in respect. If officers feel that their training makes them more competent than their supervisors, the respect and deference typically accorded to supervisory positions may diminish.

2. Skill Disparity

The disparity in skills between trained officers and their potentially less-trained supervisors can create tension and conflict.  This can undermine supervision.  Trained officers might undermine their supervisors by taking initiatives or making decisions without consulting their higher-ups, believing they know better.

There are insubordination risks. Enhanced training might lead to a higher risk of officers feeling justified in disregarding orders they perceive as outdated or incorrect.

3. Increased Accountability

Training often includes components on legal standards, rights, and ethical behaviour, which can lead to increased scrutiny of supervisors’ actions.

Whistleblowing may increase – trained officers are more likely to recognize and report unethical or illegal behaviour by their supervisors, leading to potential internal conflicts.

With training, officers are better equipped to document and present evidence against their supervisors, which might threaten the latter’s position or reputation.

4. Psychological Impact

The psychological impact of training on officers can influence their behaviour towards supervisors.

Officers may develop overconfidence in their abilities, leading them to disregard the experience and authority of their supervisors.

Training can heighten awareness of the complexities and challenges of policing, potentially leading to increased stress and burnout. This can result in strained relationships with supervisors if they are perceived to be unsupportive or out of touch.

5. Organizational Culture

The introduction of new training programs can disrupt the existing organizational culture within a police department:

Supervisors accustomed to traditional methods may resist changes brought about by new training protocols, leading to conflicts with officers eager to implement what they’ve learned.

Differences in training between newer and veteran officers can exacerbate generational gaps, leading to misunderstandings and friction.

Comment:

While training is essential for the professional development of police officers, it can also pose challenges, particularly in the hierarchical and structured environment of law enforcement. The potential threat to supervisors arises from shifts in power dynamics, skill disparities, increased accountability, psychological impacts, and cultural disruptions. Addressing these challenges requires careful management and integration of training programs to ensure they enhance rather than undermine departmental harmony and effectiveness.

Possibly the above should be considered in relation t the experiences of P.S. Monk (BPS) and his associated?

It appears little has changed in 30 years – the author, with substantially more practical policing experience than many (if not all) supervisors was posted to the Narcotics Department on two conditions.  One of these was that he would not longer represent officers at disciplinary hearings.  Seemingly his ability to have lower ranks found ‘not guilty’ (a never-before occurrence) was causing disquiet in the Officer (upper case ‘O’) ranks.  A subordinate is likely to be accused by a supervisory officer, investigated by a senior Officer, have the case against them presented by a senior Officer and the matter presided over by another senior Officer … the chances of an acquittal were slim!

Ultimately, accused of ‘bucking authority’ (showing disrespect) and alleged to have tried to record a conversation with his Detective Chief Inspector (DCI), this site’s author was advised his contract was not to be renewed.  The BPS did not engage the disciplinary procedure for these ‘adverse allegations’.

As for the DCI … the Bermuda press reported Dennis Ramsay ‘is to be removed from his post’.  The newspaper reported ‘two police sources said DCI Ramsay was told to leave as head of the department following an internal investigation that found him behaving in a manner “unfit” for the Narcotics chief’.

Author

cop@bermuda.org.uk