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Rising Above Mediocrity

During my formative years on the job, maybe a few years deep, I was dumbstruck. It appeared that mediocrity was not only present but often accepted. My work, police work, was too important—I needed to more than just get by.

How was I going to make myself one of the elite? I needed guideposts and goals.

Following much brain shrinking and self-psychoanalysis, I finally discovered that knowledge was essential for me to become the best I could be. It is essential for everyone to achieve their best.

This knowledge, this learning, is not just a tool for reaching goals nor is it self-serving. Knowledgeable police can provide superior service to their community, their department, their peers, subordinates, and superiors.

That is the job, is it not? To provide superior service to a wide range of constituents? Don’t think this is an easy one-shot effort. It is a career-long process that involves ongoing sacrifice, effort, and discomfort as you reach your goals and set new ones. To excel and be one of the best, you must adopt this mantra and put it into practice.

That means taking advantage of every opportunity to learn, obtain training, engage in new activities, study, read, and watch what other top performers are doing. Yes, I know that there will be conflicting interests, such as family and personal activities, but they’re part of the challenge. It is about balancing your goals and these interests while always keeping in mind that the acquisition of knowledge can’t be put on the back burner.

Throughout my 43 years in police work, in a myriad of assignments and ranks, as I observed top-of-their-game cops practice their profession and pursued my own excellence, I identified several categories of knowledge that must be continually sought and mastered.

Two of those categories stand out as particularly critical in achieving success in law enforcement and providing superior service to others:



I’ll expand on both in upcoming blogs.

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About Ross Swope

In a career spanning more than four decades, I rose through the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Department in both uniform and investigative positions. I began as a uniform patrolman and retired 27 y


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