ABOUT THE AUTHOR
"Treat everyone with dignity and respect."
Ross Swope grew up in the world of law enforcement. The son of a cop, he joined the Washington, DC, police force soon after he graduated from the University of Maryland in 1972. Over the next 43 years, he rose through the ranks, ultimately becoming deputy chief of the DC Metropolitan Police Department and then the chief of police of the US Supreme Court.
His many responsibilities included planning, administration, management, investigations, budgeting, and human relations, with an emphasis on leadership. A highly effective law enforcement manager and forward thinker, he pursued continuing education and applied it to every department he served.
In addition to his numerous awards and commendations, he holds three master’s degrees—applied behavioral science; justice, law, and society; and applied criminology—making him the most highly decorated and educated police official in the DC Metropolitan Police Department when he retired.
Ross has been published locally, nationally, and internationally on such topics as community policing, problem-oriented policing, leadership issues, and effective policing strategies. Generally recognized as the creator and author of the seminal work on police ethics, he has been widely cited in major publications on that subject.
He is currently writing a book that details his proven approach to improving law enforcement and restoring an environment of trust, confidence, and cooperation between citizens and police officers.
Also an avid outdoorsman and craftsman, Ross has had his writing and photography featured in adventure magazines. He currently lives in Gambrills, Maryland.
Ross at home in Gambrills.
See more images in Ross's image gallery.
I grew up ten miles outside of Washington, DC, in Prince Georges County, Maryland. As far back as I can remember, I was surrounded by cops—honorable, dedicated, fine men of courage who also carried a badge. They became my community. In solidarity, social gatherings included everyone, and we got together regularly as I grew up. In those days in that area, the color of one’s skin was of no consequence.
Most of the kids I played with dropped out of high school, suffered from drug addiction, and went to prison. Many died young. I don’t believe any of them had the same opportunity I had to stand in the shadows of men of conviction, courage, empathy, and sacrifice—men who cared.
Dad’s police friends found out I enjoyed shooting, so when I became a teenager, they often invited me to join their hunting expeditions. For decades, I spent days and weeks at a time in the woods with them. They taught me excellent hunting and shooting skills, but even more valuable were the life lessons I garnered through their actions, dispositions, and words of wisdom.
I visited my father and several of my father’s friends in the hospital as they recovered from various injuries they suffered on the job. Despite their experiences, my father and the men he worked with didn’t grow hard. They weren’t prone to violence. They were men I liked to be around.
They seldom talked about the job. They seldom passed advice on to me, but when they did, I soaked it up. In more than four decades of police service, I saw countless acts of generosity and self-effacement performed by those I worked with. These qualities were second-nature to my dad and to those I grew up with.
The men in this community made a difference in others’ lives -they helped, they saved, they protected, and they served. I wanted to be one of them. I also wanted to be one of the best.
Following graduation from high school, I matriculated to the University of Maryland at College Park, where I took many police courses. I received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1972. As I considered my future, the lives of my father and those of his colleagues were ever present in my mind, nudging me toward a decision.
Although I knew my folks had no desire for me to enter policing, so much historical interaction with cops was a powerful driver. I had to follow my own path.
In 1973, I applied to the D C Police Department and was sworn in as one of only 10 officers with a college degree in a force of nearly 5,000. That was the beginning of my 43-year journey in policing.
I protected and served with dedication and sacrifice. Neither I nor the men and women under my charge would fail those in need, especially those who had nowhere else to turn to but the police.
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