Friday, April 18, 2014

Does Policing Keep You Young?

Edward Brown. M.S.

Burger (2014) noted that in 2013, heart attacks were the third leading cause of death among on-duty law officers in the U.S., trailing behind gunfire and auto accidents.  Burger also asserted that the off-duty, health related death toll is much higher. In this research, Burger didn’t document the percentage of law enforcement officers affected by these numbers or the impact of stress on overall wellness. However, the point was made that police officers could do a better job of taking care of themselves across the board.  The telltale signs of ill health may not be visually apparent, although, it could be hypothesized  that proper rest, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise, promotes optimal health and a more youthful appearance for a psychological edge.

Edward Brown, M.S., of Core Edge Police Professional Development provides questions and answers about the nature of policing, in conjunction with a progressive wellness program, that keeps police officers young.

Q: What got you interested in the correlation between the job of policing, exercise, and staying young?

Brown: I would see police officers, that I patrolled with 25 years ago, and noticed a correlation between weight management and youthfulness.  The officers, who maintained their weight, had not aged much over two decades. In one discussion, an officer said that the job of policing preserved him.

Q: What did you take that to mean?

Brown: Despite the challenges and stresses that come with policing, the nature of the job does not cause excessive aging.  I can’t speak for what’s going on physiologically with an officer, but just going on their physical appearance alone. 

Q: Having policed the streets of Atlanta (GA), what do you think attributes to this anti-aging process within policing?

Brown: I’ve been a gym rat since I was 10 years old. The officers I worked out with twenty-five years ago, never stopped working out. Their fitness routine changed as they got older, but they maintained some form of physical exercise. If you control your weight, as you age, the aging process seems to slow down. Although policing has some stressors and dangers involved, contrary to popular belief, there are other professions more dangerous than policing. Off the top of my head, I would say professional football, boxing, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) are more dangerous than policing. No one is shooting at athletes in a stadium, but these athletes take regular physical punishment that has to take a toll on them over time.  

Q: What other factors do you believe lend themselves to preserving police officers?

Brown: Cop humor, camaraderie, and independence. Cops are as funny as comedians are. When I was in the police academy, I asked a police captain, why police officers were so funny.  This captain told me that he believed humor was a subconscious way of dealing with the risks of danger. His comments stuck with me over the years. When I watch police shows like “Southland,” I know the writers did their homework, when they capture the essence of police culture and its humor.  

Second, having a “one for all, all for one,” mentality (like the military), makes you feel like you’re working with family members, not mere co-workers. Working with people, who need you, is different than working with someone in the next cubicle, whose life doesn’t depend on you. 

Finally, the independence of policing allows a great deal of flexibility. Even if you spend 15 minutes in roll call with your least favorite supervisor, typically, you will not see him again, until after your watch. And that’s only to turn in paperwork. The nature of policing makes it difficult to micromanage police officers, if supervisors are doing their jobs effectively.  A supervisor who consistently comes on an officer's call, as some form of harassment, end ups merely providing back up.  In many jurisdictions, once supervisors are promoted, the last thing they want to do is answer calls. So, officer independence allows for creativity, freshness, and flexibility. All these factors make for good feelings and psychological wellness.

Q: Interesting. Maybe I should join a police department to maintain my youth. What do you think?

Brown: It still takes a certain level of discipline and fortitude to effectively do the job. The points I am outlining are mere observations and by-products of preserving yourself in this profession. You have to have much more motivation than merely trying to stay young.

Q: When did you figure all this out for yourself?

Brown: Well, I love research and attempting to understand human phenomenon is a passion of mine. I’ve tried on my old police uniform, from twenty-five years ago, and I can still fit it. It’s when I saw officers maintaining a certain look over decades, that I became intrigued about the ideas surrounding their wellness choices. I’ve jumped back and forth within law enforcement at will, so I know healthy choices work.  More importantly, it gives you the option to determine your terms and conditions for policing.

Q: I read somewhere  that you mentioned the importance of changing your physical appearance as you got older. What did you mean?

Brown: Although policing can preserve your youth overall, parts of you are still aging. For example, men who are going bald can maintain an even more youthful appearance by shaving their heads. If you let go of what the aging process depletes from you, you can still exhibit an image of vitality and virility. If you change your look, people will judge you by contemporary standards rather than what you looked like in your youth.

A few other suggestions are:

  • Maintain a diet consisting of fish, grains and vegetables
  • Stay abreast of current events to keep your mind active
  • Dress in contemporary clothes, but age appropriate
  • Focus your exercise regimen on cardiovascular and lean muscle training. After a certain age, bulky muscle loses tonality and looks flabby
  • Drink more water
  • Date or marry a mate with healthy and progressive outlooks on life
  • Don’t smoke and drink alcohol moderately (if at all)

For more information about this, check out How Attractive Are You? Reinventing Your Image, Power & Charisma at:


Burger, L. (2014 April 2). Workout site for cops offers 10-minute fitness plans. Retrieved from:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Do Police Officers Change After Being Promoted?

Edward Brown, M.S.

Becoming a police supervisor is an enviable accomplishment in a police officer’s career.  Merely going through the promotional process says a lot about the drive, determination and responsibility on the officer’s part.  But, does something happen to some police officers when they become promoted to supervisor?  Does the desire for power shift the camaraderie they once enjoyed with their co-workers?  Can you become a police supervisor and still remain grounded?

Edward Brown, M.S., of Core Edge Police Professional Development provides questions and answers about the psychological and emotional considerations endemic within police promotions.

Q: What differences have you seen when some officers got promoted?

Brown: Some differences included officers who engaged in regular brotherly love, and said they would remain unchanged, if they ever got promoted.  Interestingly, these were the officers who changed the most when they got promoted.  It’s understandable that management requires a different set of responsibilities.  However, some of these new supervisors became the worst to work with.  Eminent economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen said that the lower echelon (rank and file) never want to destroy a system (even if it’s unjust), because their value system is the same as the upper class (management).  Consequently, when employees, who once felt disempowered in the past, receive power, they are the biggest protectors of a system.

Q: What’s your take away from Veblen’s analysis?

Brown:  Essentially, that officers, who are the most outspoken about Pro-officer issues, want more power and control over their professional lives irrespective of any injustices they might have once felt.  Instead of destroying the dispassionateness of a system, they want to join it.

Q: Is desiring more power a bad thing?

Brown: No, it’s not.  There wouldn’t be any police supervisors, if all officers opted not to advance within the hierarchy.  Who would be tomorrow’s leaders and managers?   But, sometimes newly promoted supervisors go overboard to maintain their positions at the behest of demotivating personnel.  Invariably, they can be effective managers, as well as, morale builders, if they attain the employee motivational skills necessary to successfully engage with people.

Q: So, an “Us against them” struggle emerges between officers and police management, because of the need for power by some supervisors?

Brown: In minor situations. But, I wouldn’t go that far as a whole.  I’m referring to those officers who pledged that they would never forget the challenges of being an officer once they got promoted and seemingly did the reverse.  The role and mentality of officers versus management causes a natural schism.

Q: What do you mean?

Brown: I did my master’s thesis on the impact of the officer-centric style of management compared to the command style (autocratic) on police departments.   I wanted to explore if it would be better to make operational decisions from the bottom up or top down within the police hierarchy?  Based on surveying officers and supervisors within 14 police departments within the state of Georgia, it was clear that information should come from the rank and file for departmental decision making, but cyclically.   In short, data or intelligence should come from the ground troops and should be used by command staff for daily decision-making.  Information should also travel back down to the troops to ensure effective and proper responses and procedures.  This “Yo Yo” effect would serve as a means of continuous communication up and down the chain.  The challenge becomes where you sit within the hierarchy.  There’s a saying that “Where you sit is what you see.” The long-term, strategic considerations made by police chiefs superseded daily functional decisions made by police officers.  The Chief's role is to consider issues of liabilities, politics, and budgets; whereas, police officers have limited responsibilities in these areas.  These critical areas then become the sticking point for what is deemed fair and equitable.

Q: So, the mentality of police officers and management were different because of objectives?

Brown: They all are playing on the same team, but don’t always read from the same playbook.  Or said another way, there is a communication void.  Police chiefs reported that they could do a better job of communicating operational procedures (“Why we are doing what we are doing”).  But, resigned to communicate on a need to know basis.  Chiefs said that they were committed to staving off daily political battles for police officers by politicians and citizens. Some chiefs said that police officers may never hear about a politically motivated complaint lodged against officers.  This was one way of chiefs protecting police officers.

Q: It seems that we have gone a long way from what happens to some newly promoted officers to the concerns of police chiefs.  How do we reconcile this disconnection?

Brown: Perhaps, in the police academy and in-service training, a basic management class should be part of the curriculum. Not only would everyone understand what leading/management means and entails, but a “gut check” for those who aspire to climb the hierarchy.  This will definitely quiet the false promises and expectations of officers who claim to do so much good for other officers once they become promoted. If everyone is aware of the responsibilities of managing, it would bridge the communication divide and help management do their job more effectively.  Police officers would then have realistic ideas and expectations of what promotions mean.  In theory, understanding and awareness should go a long way in managing unrealistic expectations.

For more information on ways for improving departmental communication, click here: