My 26+ years with APD is but a vast series of learning experiences…many on how to just survive.
I have stared down the front sight of my own pistol seer milliseconds from changing my mind about taking a human life while on others I have heard the sound of bullets whistling past my head.
Those that know that sound will know what I mean, kind of like clenching your front teeth together and make a short buzzing sound as fast as possible. Yep, that’s the sound.
I have been pulled by the neck from behind my patrol car one rainy night on I-20 seconds before a hydroplaning vehicle slammed into my blue-light-special in the exact spot I was standing. Not that I play for that team, but I seriously considered kissing that quick-thinking Sergeant right on the lips for that one.
I have pulled several apartment dwellers through their burglar mesh-covered windows from their democidal inferno, pulled a 300-pound unconscious man from a car fire that ended-up burning its way down to the tires, and wrestled a Japanese bolt action rifle from a man that literally had no arms, just 6-inch stumps, who was trying to blow his own head-off because he lost his job and his wife left him.
None receiving me meritorious awards, shiny plaques, or a follow-up “thank you” from the victims.
All these events took place in the first 11 years on the job, but now I have transitioned to an administrative assignment as Project Manager for a Zone Commander and later a Deputy Chief.
Saving lives and preserving my own was not my later responsibility, but convincing unwilling parties in the department to assist me in obtaining interagency police stuff and reviewing policy from “the way we always did it” to “best practices.”
My coercion technics ranged from selling the benefits of whatever program I was working on to reminding unenthusiastic parties who I worked for and more than willing to arrange an appointment with “the boss” so they could tell him just how stupid “his” ideas were…in their own words, standing inches from his desk, at military attention. My…when I put it that way, the resistance transforms into full cooperation…just as I thought.
One particular project was submitting written changes to “subject matter experts” within the department to insure the newly worded policies were correctly worded and encompassed all the perinate changes moving towards “best practices.”
I noticed all my new policy submissions for review were coming back with no corrections, suggestions, or negative feedback. Hard to believe I was that perfect.
I asked an administrative Sergeant, that had years of experience working on policy changes and with subject matter experts, why the across-the-board acceptance. He said, “simple…they aren’t reading it.”
They are just sending it back approved. He told me he too dealt with this problem and decided to insert the phrase, “Little Green Frog” randomly throughout the policy. When it came back proofed with no correction, he would give them a call and ask, “in the policy text, why should a Sergeant first request permission from a Little Green Frog before moving forward with his decision?”
Perplexed with the question, they were forced to go back and read the text. I tried it and it works like a charm.
So next time you send an email, letter, or personal note…jot down the phrase “Little Green Frog” somewhere within and verify who's paying attention to your efforts.
Differentiate the proof-readers from the speed-readers.
W.J. Butcher is a Coweta County resident and retired 26-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Send comments, kudos, and criticism to: firstname.lastname@example.org