Phase I - What
One particular instance in my wide experience working as a police officer under the NSW Police Station’s jurisdiction that I want to focus on in this reflection would be when I was assigned to take a statement from a female who was an alleged victim of violence and physical injury. To sum up the case, he was filing for a police report because her ex-boyfriend allegedly breached an apprehended violence order or AVO that that one of the regional courts in the country made against him (i.e. the ex-boyfriend). The AVO was breached because the ex-boyfriend kept on calling Victim A, something which the court clearly ruled out when it released the AVO against the ex-boyfriend. This is what compelled Victim A to report to the New South Wales Police Station. This was one of the most meaningful parts of my experience when it comes to handling cases in the NSW Police Station.
Basically, my role in the said job activity was to collect the necessary information from the complainant or plaintiff which in this case is the ex-girlfriend. I am aware that when it comes to writing documents like this, it is important to protect the subject’s right to privacy and confidentiality and considering that, the name, or any pertinent information that may lead to the discovery of the complainant’s (i.e. the victim) identity will not be mentioned in this case. For uniformity purposes, however, the complainant will be referred to as Victim A throughout the paper. At first, I was clueless about what I was supposed to do, how I was supposed to start collecting information from the subject.
All that I knew, thanks to my active participation during the class lectures, orientations, seminars, and other awareness programs intended to educate the members of the police force on how to practice their profession and exercise their authority without compromising the principles of ethics, legality, and practicality, was that I, as the person assigned by the Field Training Officer to collect information from the victims and formally file their complaints and charges, is expected to be courteous, disciplined, professional, and objective at all times, especially when it comes to writing the information on the sheets pre-provided in the station .
I asked my field training officer for a chance to conduct a consultation. There I asked him to answer some important questions about the job that I just did and of course, feedback on my performance. I raised the issue regarding my apprehensions to him and he said that he also had the same idea and impression about the learning curve and the time it takes for newbies like me to adjust to that learning curve when he was a trainee like me. In a way, that made me think and feel that I was just on the right track, at least for now. I finally discovered the importance of proper guidance when it comes to professional growth and development.
Phase II – So What
I have just finished describing the different thoughts I had about the job and the specific job activity I chose to discuss, including both the positive and the negative ones. I have also finished discussing the nature of the main part of that job activity that I found to be particularly challenging and how I managed to be relieved of my apprehensions by my field training officer.
I guess the main reason why I found collecting information for investigation purposes from Victim A challenging was because I was not able to prepare myself to be exposed to that type of system; in almost any case or situation, lack of preparation leads to the development challenging situations if not complete disasters . Another reason would be the fact that my personal values as a newbie police officer working in the NSW Police Station was not yet in line with the values that the police organization that I joined expect its members to honour and embody. In short, there was a misalignment back there when I felt challenged in doing my job collecting investigative information from Victim A. All in all, I think the preparations I made were not enough. For organizations to work, having the values of the members of the organizations, its leaders, and the organization’s values itself aligned is important because this dictates how well all organizational stakeholders can work well together to achieve a common goal—that is the goal of the organization .
Internal and External factors
When it comes to the internal factors that affected my performance in the field, I think some of the biggest contributors were the fear and apprehension that I felt which was primarily due to my lack of experience in the job. I simply did not know whether what I was doing was wrong or right or if I was even in the right place or in the right time. I always had this thought that my field training officer would scold me for not meeting some of the police station’s expectations or not being a good officer. Part of the internal factors that contributed to the challenge that I encountered when I was undergoing field training included the time and work pressure that I felt. Basically, when I was undergoing training in the station, there were a lot of things to finish with so little time. Multi-tasking was not enough because there were simply a lot of works to finish. My supervisor also kept on pressuring me. According to him, I should learn how to act quickly and efficiently in order to save time and accomplish a lot of things. I was eager to learn how to do just that but then again, I was inexperienced and I felt I needed more time to be in the field to be able to do that. Because of the time pressure, there were times that I did not even get to plan how to conduct the interviews and pick the questions that I was going to ask to the complainants, leading of course to a poorer than expected job performance.
Now, when it comes to the external factors, I think, things like the social pressure associated with being in the police force helped make my situation more challenging too because as a member of the police force, I need to be a role model to the other members of the community; I felt that I needed to exude confidence and integrity and that was kind of pressuring in my part because I really did not know how to behave and act outside and inside the police station at first, although there were significant improvements after a few weeks of stay in my field training. Nonetheless, I think this indeed impacted my performance negatively especially when I faced the challenges I mentioned earlier.
I honestly think that I responded to these internal and external factors appropriately. This can be evidenced by the fact that my field training officer is not pleased with my performance, mainly because of the improvements I have made so far, although he also keeps on saying that there are still things that I could improve on. Nonetheless, my performance has greatly improved. That only meant that I was doing something correct and I think responding appropriately to the internal and external factors that contributed to the creation of the different challenging situations in my field training was one of them.
The second one would be to serve as a form of communication to the public that aims to inform them that there are still a lot of good-hearted members of the criminal justice and law enforcement industry that remain truthful to their jobs, responsibilities, and rationale for existence as a member of the police force. One of the most controversial and should I say complex parts of our job as a police officer is the investigative part. Yes, we do not just fill data entry forms, submit documents, and capture suspects in often sensationalized car chases; we conduct investigative operations too. This information basically summarizes my perceptions when I was in college.
Phase III Now What
My field training officer also gave me some negative feedbacks that he said I had to improve on. He told me that my weaknesses were not being organized, and the fact that I needed to be more accustomed to the format that the NSW Police Station uses when it comes to documenting the witnesses’ and complainants’ statements. Nonetheless, I believe these are all easily achievable goals that I can improve on. One thing I want to point out is the fact that these weaknesses as my FTO said in his feedbacks, are all caused by the fact that I was not able to make enough preparations before I was immersed in the NSW Police Station’s environment; and that I was still clinging to my personal values, some of which are not aligned to the values of the NSW Police Station as an organization.
It was also at that point where I realized the importance of feedback in the growth and development of newbie police officers like me. Had the field training officer assigned to supervise and direct me been absent that period, I think I would still be in the same disturbed and confused state that I was when I first realized that I was encountering a challenge. Honestly though, I think I would have come up with a rational justification of why I was thinking and behaving that way when I first encountered the challenge when I was handling Victim A’s even without requesting for a consultation session with my field training officer. However, in that case, it would have taken me longer than the time it took me to realize and rationalize everything with the help of the field training officer.
I am a realist when it comes to life. I am neither a pessimist nor an optimist because I think being either one of the two can be destructive to one’s personal growth and development. Realism is something that I have found to be somewhere in between and I think it is the most balanced approach when it comes to handling challenging situations. A case in point would be the situation where I am in now. Considering my being a realist, I think that I will encounter a lot of challenges, majority of which may be more complex than the one I encountered when I was so occupied with the challenges I was having with Victim A’s case.
For sure though, if ever I am to encounter a similar challenge like that in the future, the preparations and changes that I would have made would not matter anymore because I already know how to solve and get through that challenge. I am that type of person; once I finally discover the solution to a challenge or problem, I always find myself not having to go back to square one when it comes to solving it. I think that in a way is one of my strengths. When it comes to new challenges, however, I think that is an entirely different thing. In that case, I think I would just have to make myself flexible and dynamic because after all, the only thing that is constant in this world is change. Improvements and innovations would be impossible without change and so I think I have to apply this principle to my professional practice as well. So, when I encounter a similar or a related challenge in the future, I will be able to handle the tasks in an organized manner, following all the required formats, and in a systematic and efficient way than when I was a newbie. In fact, I am quite confident that I will be able to exceed my FTO’s expectations when that time comes.
Bratton, W., & Malinowski, S. (2008). Police performance management in practice: taking COMPSTAT to the next level. Policing.
Breci, M., & Martin, M. (2000). Mentorship programs: Bridging the gap between theory and practice Summary. Journal of Criminal Justice Education.
Camera, C. (2005). Ultimately we are all outsiders: The ethics of documentary filming. New Challenges for Documentary.
Chan, Y. (2002). Why haven’t we mastered alignment? The importance of the informal organization structure. MIS Quarterly Executive.
Cherryman, J., & Bull, R. (2000). Police officers' perceptions of specialist investigative interviewing skills. International Journal of Political Science and Management.
Gottschalk, P. (2007). Predictors of police investigation performance: An empirical study of Norwegian police as value shop. International Journal of Information Management.
Marsick, V., & Watkins, K. (2003). Demonstrating the value of an organization's learning culture: the dimensions of the learning organization questionnaire. Advances in Developing Human Resources.
Taylor, N. (2002). State Surveillance and the Right to Privacy. Surveillance & Society.
Westmarland, L. (2005). Police ethics and integrity: Breaking the blue code of silence Summary. Policing and Society.
Wogalter, M., Roy, S., Mcquiston, M., & Mcquiston, D. (2004). A national survey of US police on preparation and conduct of identification lineups. Psychology, Crime, and Law.