Today’s Investigative Special Report September 15, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “What Are Law Enforcement Officer’s Trigger Points?”

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Forensic Investigator – Senior Author

The young law enforcement officer sits in roll call waiting to ascertain who his partner will be tonight. Being the youngest officer on the squad he generally will be assigned to the older dead beat officer who would rather drink coffee at the 7-Eleven all night long than be a pro-active officer in the district he and his young partner have been assigned to.

When radio is trying to dispatch a patrol car to an incident his dead-beat partner ignores the call, even when the young partner gets excited and wants to tell the police radio dispatcher that they will take the call. In seeing the young officer reaching for the car radio, he looks directly at him and shakes his head no. The disappointment is immediately apparent in the younger officer’s body posture, but the older officer doesn’t miss a beat, picks up his coffee, and takes a drink from his cup.

A senior police officer of the Hamburg police ...A senior police officer of the Hamburg police on assignment at Hamburg city hall, Germany. Français : Capitaine de la police de Hambourg en faction devant l'hôtel de ville de Hambourg, en Allemagne. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Both of these officers have different trigger points. The older officer lost his zeal for the job when he was passed over numerous times for a position in detectives. He doesn’t realize the reason he continues to be passed over is his reputation of doing as little as possible has become his reputation amongst the troops.

Now, he only works the job because he has two kids in college and a wife who hasn’t worked in several decades. He is not happy with his job, marriage, and basically his life. His presentation to everyone is he will do his time quietly, leave him alone, and all will be fine. Mess with him in any way and his trigger point rears its ugly head.

If a citizen stops to talk to him about how his day is going, he immediately moves away, disregarding what the citizen was trying to talk to him about. He knows the type of people who come and go in the 7-Eleven store are just like his wife’s family, who he has no time for, but puts up with them to have peace in the family. Still inside he isn’t as dead as he appears to be. He is proud to wear the uniform and enjoys being a police officer, not like he did when he was younger, but without his badge and gun his life would be a dark empty hole; and he knows it.

Changes in his daily routine are a major trigger point as he is complacent and doesn’t like it when people mess with his schedule. He puts up with the young officers they assign to be his partner for the evening only because if there is a case report to write this will be his young partner’s job.

When the supervisor’s come around to ascertain what he has been up to he immediately attempts to appear that he is on the ball, but what he doesn’t know is they know the type of officer he has become, because he wears his trigger points on the sleeves of his shirts.

The young officer is the opposite of the older officer. The only thing they have in common is they wear the same uniform, but outside this they have nothing in common. Sure they are to work together as a team, but he finds the older officer basically worthless in that he is there only to put in his time and go home. To the young officer this is unacceptable and is of the opinion that the older officer is an embarrassment to the uniform and should retire.

The time spent with the older officer is of little value as he doesn’t do anything that would be educational. Training is something that the officer enjoys but his older partner, if that is what he can call him, partner, does not take the time to share stories with him or quiz him about the manual or laws they are to enforce if they ever leave the store to go out into the community and make contact with someone besides the young adults who come into the store and try to purchase alcohol even though their fake identification is obviously a fraud.

When seeing a violation of the law the young officer begins to move in the direction of the violation inside the store, but the older officer shakes his head, without saying a word telling him to not get involved.

He never use to have problems with emotional lows and highs, but has found that working with these types of officers, the dead beat officers, has caused him to develop trigger points he had no idea that he possessed. He has always been a young man who believed in doing the right thing the first time and giving his all to accomplish the task with competence and intelligence is the only acceptable way to perform the job.

He has thought about talking to his supervisor about these dead beat officers but he has seen them interact with one another and they seem to be good friends. Although the supervisor’s understands what the young officer is dealing with it doesn’t seem to be a priority for them to do anything about the situation.

Boston Police - Special Operations Officer on ...Boston Police - Special Operations Officer on duty at the 2007 Boston Veteran's Day parade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
His hesitation in coming forward would gain him no friends in fact his young cohorts have informed him to do such a thing would be career suicide. He has been told by many other officers that someday he would be the lead officer and then he could make the rules and demonstrate to others, especially the detectives that he has what it takes to be a great police officer; and a future excellent detective.

Still he is dealing with these new trigger points and trying to control his temper, as he has begun to lose his cool when dealing with citizens who don’t pay attention to him or fail to obey his commands. It is the impatience and frustration which he is now taking out on citizens instead of confronting his older partner.

There are no easy answers to this situation, both officers see their roles and lifestyles as acceptable, and one they can live with, but can they. If things don’t change the older officer will continue to decline in his mental state and overall health issues. His love for the job if something doesn’t change will come to an abrupt ending and this will cost him his job and potentially his family.

The younger officer needs to take these trigger points and make them his strengths not his weaknesses. It will take him some time to figure out how to deal with those who don’t have what he has when it comes to being an aggressive police officer, who believes in arresting perpetrators who commit crimes on the citizens in his community.

Soon his time to mature will prove to be the day his life begins and he can look back upon his older partners and realize that if he doesn’t keep the job in the proper perspective he will turn out to become just like them.

Sometime later in his career the younger, now older officer smiles as he walks out of the 7-Eleven telling the clerk he won’t be back unless there is a problem, but don’t hesitate to call. He tells his younger partner that it is important to stop by all of the businesses that are open 24/7 and to identify who the clerks are so in case something happens the clerk will become a valuable asset in possibly solving some of the crimes which occur in their district.

The once young officer has now found his way as he and his new young partner drive out of the store’s parking lot on their way to an incident radio has dispatched to them. The trigger point this time is one of confidence, happiness, and fulfillment.

The above story is not an isolated story. Thousands of law enforcement officer’s lose their jobs if not for professional reasons, but personnel reasons. Trigger points in all human beings may be hidden in nature, or always a part of somebody’s personality. It is how individuals handle these trigger points resolves each and every situation. Law enforcement officers are human and they like other humans are not shielded from dealing with stressful situations.

Most elder officers do not expend all their time while on duty at the local 7-Elevens drinking coffee. There are stories about officer’s young and old who have lost their way and fail to be energized or proactive when it comes to performing their job. It is the responsibility of these officers administration to monitor the conduct and performance of their officer at all times.

If these officers exist sooner or later a supervisor will step up and make the officer accountable and responsible for the way they perform their jobs. This may be the final trigger point which will push the officer back in line or he will shown his way out the door.

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