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Why I Wear the Badge – #WhyIWeartheBadge

I stumbled across this post today. As this is the end of National Police Week, I will post Wednesday anyway. I think this is a great idea: individual officers on camera telling America why they chose this job. It’s sentimental, humorous and inspirational, depending who you click on. It will take some time, but I think it’s well worth it.


By: Tim Burrows

Article posted in the International Association of Chiefs of Police online magazine. Links are posted at end of article.

Tim Burrows is a recently retired sergeant with 25 years of law enforcement experience.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Why I Wear The Badge

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that designated May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week May 15th falls in as Police Week.

20 years later, the Memorial Service in Washington D.C. began.  The memorial provides a place for the families, co-workers and grateful citizens to gather and pay tribute to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for their communities.

Police Week is celebrated in many different ways by both law enforcement agencies and their communities. Those communities are no longer just bound by geographical points on a map or neighborhoods. Virtual communities also celebrate in the online world and Police Week celebrations can happen there just as easily.

Showcasing your agency, it’s members and the great work that is done is easy and gives more people greater access to your people and your commitment through pictures, videos, words and gestures.

This year the [International Association of Chiefs of Police] IACP is spearheading an initiative that will bring out the best in policing;


I believe this idea is excellent and it’s a campaign where the benefits far outweigh the perceived risks.

Some agencies may be shy in taking part given how some hashtags have been hi-jacked over the years and used for a purpose to show brands or agencies in a negative light. Could this happen with “Why I wear the badge?” Absolutely. Should that stop agencies from taking part? Absolutely NOT!

This is way more than just a hashtag. This is about the core essence of why your men and women put their uniforms on each and every day. Why they decided to become police officers and what it means to them to have the privilege to serve their communities and protect all members of society.

This is a give back opportunity to show the relatable side of your officers and their agencies. We say regularly that social and digital media provides an opportunity to show the ‘human side’ of policing, so show it and tell your community, “Why I wear the badge.”

‘We are people in a uniform’.

Policing is truly at a crossroads with the public. The ‘haters’ are becoming more vocal and they are drawing on the events that put the industry in a bad light. Many people who are on that bandwagon are being swayed in their opinions by a lack of argument and counter information to the national narrative.

#WhyIWearTheBadge provides the opportunity to add to the conversation and sway the moderates and more importantly show everyone the commitment to policing by highlighting where that commitment comes from…a duty of service to others.

This is not an initiative to ask for community love. It’s an initiative to give the community love. 

It’s an opportunity to tell the community the story behind the dedication to service. Why I wear the badge is all about giving to the public that you all serve.

Joining in this initiative and encouraging your officers and your agency to take part is the kind of leadership that can go far in your community in these tough times. Indifference and a lack of commitment to things that really matter is killing this country…what an awesome opportunity to take a stand and tell your community that you are celebrating Police Week 2015 by telling them,  “Why I wear the badge!”

“The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ~ Plato

I can’t wait to see and share the different views and reasons all of you come up with on #WhyIWearTheBadge.

– See more at:

Also look at the IACP website: Why I Wear the Badge and the Facebook page: #Why I Wear the Badge

More Street Stories

Chain of Command

Who does what?

As with any para-military organization, there must be leadership. Although it is often portrayed with fair accuracy in the entertainment media, I still find lots of discrepancies in the roles played. For instance, a Hallmark Movie Channel series Mystery Woman, the lead character’s counterpoint is a police chief. Granted, this is a small town with a small department. However, a police chief should never do his own investigation. A chief’s job is administrative–glad-handing politicians to keep his budget intact and being the all-around nice guy in which the public can put their trust.

Chiefs or Sheriffs   

Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter
Bishop Police Chief Chris Carter

Chiefs or Sheriffs will have a Bachelor of Science degree at the minimum with an emphasis on Criminal Justice or Business Management. State certificates including the POST Management Certificate, the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society Leadership Development Program help the career climber as well as the POST Executive Development Course, POST Command College and the FBI National Academy. A masters of science degree in the above subjects is typically encouraged at this level of management.

Deputy Chief, Undersheriff or Commander

Under the chief or sheriff is a deputy chief or undersheriff. In very small departments the deputy chief is often called a captain or commander. At this level, these administrators are involved in managing whole divisions such as patrol and administrative services. If you are writing a story that is set in a small town, troll the internet for a department of a similar size. Usually you can find the structure which will give you an idea of the hierarchy. It matters–this past year, Kyra Sedgwick ended her seven year tenure on the series called The Closer. As the Deputy Chief, she should have been writing reports and recommendations for the chief and city council, making decisions on personnel issues and obtaining grants instead of solving crimes. As much as I like watching Sedgwick, the show was so unrealistic that I couldn’t watch it.


Santa Rosa Police Department, Ca, Lt Craig Schwartz
Santa Rosa Police Department, Ca, Lt Craig Schwartz

A lieutenant is assigned to a team, generally. Teams work the same days, thereby enhancing the team concept. A lieutenant is found at all shifts in large departments although in smaller agencies, usually only day shift and swing (afternoons). The night shift or graveyards are handled by “Watch Commanders” who are either lieutenants or acting lieutenants. This is a sergeant who is on the promotional list for lieutenant or has been assigned by an administrator.



Sergeants are the line commanders. As in the army, sergeants get most of the work done. A good patrol sergeant will listen to radio activity so he knows who is doing what. They should be available for back-up but not tied up on a lengthy report call. They need to be on hand for patrol or dispatcher direction. Administrative or detective sergeants has a different role in some ways but still are the “go to” person for line officers and civilians. They will also handle preliminaries of personnel problems, give direction and approve crime reports. Corporals are subordinate and have limited report-approving powers.


Detectives are promoted patrol officers. In larger departments, a detective may be a sergeant rank. There are also levels of detective ranking depending on promotional testing, merit, and interviews. 

Ft Bragg, Ca Police Department
Ft Bragg Police Department-California

Again, all these structures are varied by department. There are few hard and fast rules but there are some that are never violated. The chain of command is respected–or it should be–to maintain a successful resolution. “Jumping the chain” is a phrase that is often used to describe those employees who go directly to the power when they have a problem. A good leader will refer the employee to their immediate superior.

However, back in the day, it was common to jump the chain. Going to your brother in law to talk about a problem with your supervisor was normal. It led to accusations of “good old boy” systems from outsiders and can smack of favoritism, depending how the contact was handled.

If you aren’t sure how an issue would be handled, check for a “model” agency and call the appropriate ranking person. Most cops love to talk to writers about their job. Your problem may be how to shut your source up!

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