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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Don’t Forget Where You Came From

The last couple of years I have seen a lot of co-workers promote. Some went from Sergeant to Lieutenant. Others took their first step into the supervisory pool to make Sergeant and even a few took a further leap of faith and joined the ranks of administration. For most of them I am happy to see them climb the ranks because they deserve it. They did their time in the trenches and remained level headed about the job that needs to be done. They witnessed the void of the supervisory staff that lacked the common knowledge to be effective and wanted to make a difference in a more positive way than what was done before. So to those who have proven themselves to have the knowledge and the ambition to stretch their necks out further and join the higher ranks I applaud you and wish you the best.

But that’s not who I want to focus on today. There is a smaller group of supervisors that we have. They exist in every institution and wreak havoc wherever they are. Some have been a C/O for some time, others have not. Both do not have the common sense to fill an inmate lunch bag. These supervisors that I comment on have created more drama among staff than most inmate conspiracies. The reason behind it is not only the lack of common sense but also because of a superiority complex that they take on once they sew on those chevrons and remove themselves from the rank and file. Another reason is that they don’t listen or learn from the line staff with superior seniority, knowledge and experience when given suggestions on how to better a situation going bad. Some of these ambitious supervisors have been blinded to the point that they can no longer remember that they were once officers (if they ever were officers) and don’t mind reaching their positions while stepping on the backs of others. Even though this is commonly encouraged by CDCr and Administration, I personally believe it shows how shallow one is if they can only promote by burning other co-workers. Someone once said ‘The ones you exploit on the way up are the same ones who will stand by and watch you fall’.

It’s not entirely all their fault. CDCr encourages all to seek promotion once the probationary period is over. Lately many officers have joined the ranks of Sergeant with less than 5 years in as an officer. Now depending on the personal experiences of where you have worked that may not be a bad thing. One can gain a massive amount of experience that could qualify them ready to promote if they weren’t coddled or ‘taken care of’. It was once an unwritten rule by most line staff not to promote until they hit 5 years on the job as a C/O. Now it’s about advancing as fast as possible without gaining experience or knowledge to back the position. You may earn the position because you have the book smarts and can test well, but do you hold the common sense of how to react in the middle of an incident or dealing with an unruly inmate? Some things can’t be taught from a book.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a personal axe to grind with any particular supervisor. I, myself, took the sergeants exam, and received letters to interview, but decided not to promote because it was not the best move for me at this time. I enjoy being a (so called) senior officer on the line for right now. What I do have a problem with is the ignorant ideology of supervisors, at any rank, who look at line staff as worthless and expendable unless they promote.

Guess what… Line officers keep this boat floating! We report the vital information. We respond to the emergencies and incidences. We maintain the day in and day out programs while YOU second guess our decisions when you weren’t even there. You don’t even have a clue on what we deal with to keep the program moving while performing the dozens of responsibilities you expect us to complete and you have no idea what it takes to complete them! We are not your lap dogs. As I once told a supervisor, “I look good ‘cause I make my sergeant look good”. I have respect from my supervisors because they know I will do the job. I may not agree, and they may have to listen to me bitch, but I do the job. No one wants to look bad and if my supervisors look bad, that reflects on me and my performance. I was brought up with the ideology that your work will speak for itself and it will reflect on how your co-workers and supervisors rely, respect and treat you.

So to those who want to promote or have promoted recently, I have some words of advice:
Know and listen to your line staff. If they are seasoned or have a solid reputation, they just may know what they speak about. Most of them will help without question because it’s their job. Again, if you look good, they look good.
Every tire has the possibility to go flat, so be careful what car you ride in. Everyone wants to be accepted but be strong enough to ride alone. You have a less chance of getting thrown under a bus that way.
Last, but most important…Don’t forget where you came from. Most supervisors began as an officer. The ones who have the most respect have changed positions but not their personalities. I’m just sayin…

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