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8 conceivable and inspiring ways to improve roll call

For most agencies, the daily grind starts with roll call - but it doesn’t have to be a burden. Here are 8 ways to spruce up your roll call

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By Police1 Staff

When we asked our Police1 Facebook fans how they would improve their roll call, some very interesting debates hatched:

  • Is prayer inappropriate?
  • Is a digital roll call from the squad more beneficial?
  • Is the monotonous early morning face time demotivating or necessary?

For as many responders who claimed roll call was an unnecessary waste of time, an equal number argued that they didn’t have one, for budget or agency-size issues, and wished it could be reinstated.

Some roll calls are already so damn-near perfect that the only suggestions officers could think of were luxuries, to say the least: recliners, masseuses, naps, whiskey…lots and lots of charades. (Seriously, five people suggested charades). Below are 8 legitimate, conceivable suggestions for improving roll call. See the original post from Facebook here:

1. Don’t be repetitive in order to pamper one or a select few officers when all officers are present – respect everyone’s time and address the weaker links separately. This heated debate began as follows:

  • “Don’t read off emails that were blasted out to everyone already.” - Chris Griego
  • “Maybe if officers would read their email we wouldn’t have to do it.” - Andrew Gillig
  • “And that’s the shotgun approach that officers hate. Figure out who isn’t passing muster so to speak and address the issues with them directly. Shotgun policy is just pure laziness from leadership.” - Ryan Mark
  • “Leadership 101. If you did that you’d be chasing cops all freaking day. Get them all at once. If it’s not you, don’t sweat it. Cops need to have thicker skin than that.” - Nelson Rodriguez
  • “Nelson...if you’re a supervisor that is what you’re paid to do. The responsibility lies with you.” - Martin L. Gilliland

2. Discuss current events – internal and external – that will affect your officers and their safety, and make them feel respected and included.

  • “Bring up things that happened the previous 24 hours so I don’t find out there was a shooting in my area from the news. Sounds dumb but it’s true.” - Jay Raj
  • “Or have management actually tell us what’s going on within the department. Instead, we find out from outside sources first.” - Bob Braive
  • “Actually go over the events from the previous night.” - Steve Johnson
  • “Have a senior command officer show up every blue moon to give a command staff update of what’s going on internally.” - Terry Ivener

3. Provide comfort and convenience, in the most literal sense. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can make for a better experience.

  • “Get chair without arms on them; ever sit and then try to get out of a chair with your belt on?” - Bull Whacker
  • “Better comfortable chairs.” - Don-ee Ramrez
  • “To-go cups for the coffee.” - Chuck Taylor

4. Be punctual, from start to finish.

  • “Be there on time.” - Lee Oswold
  • “To get relieved on time.” - Will Johnson

5. Provide fuel. Everyone’s idea of breakfast may not be the same, but getting officers fed, awake and ready for the day is a great start.

  • “We have donuts on our Friday. We take turns buying by seniority. But there is always one a-hole who thinks we need fruit when it’s his turn. Loser.” - Jason N. Amber Hemstreet
  • “Coffee and donuts.” - Doe Campos (About 30% of the responses.)
  • “Serve breakfast.” - Mike Sodaro

6. Provide an interactive roll call environment

  • “Give the officers the chance to say why some new special detail or assignment is a bad idea and listen and be open to their ideas and input.” - Mike Kehl

7. Expand; invite neighboring agencies that have some valuable tactics to share, or bring in other departments within your agency.

  • “[Roll call] with another PD.” - Curt Dennis
  • “As a dispatcher, it would be helpful to be there with patrol. Officers get beat-specific pass down that we need too. It doesn’t make sense why the people actually taking the calls for patrol and being the first of the first responders aren’t provided the same context/pass down. Or sometimes I’ll get pass down/context and find out days later patrol never knew.” - Briana Dawn
  • “I would invite members of other agencies to speak to the squad about how they have achieved support from their communities.” - Dave Adam

8. Motivate - make officers feel appreciated and valued.

  • “To receive an actual ‘Thank You’ for being there and caring enough to continue to do the job. Even if the public doesn’t appreciate you it’s nice to know your Sgt. or others you work with do.” - Rose Nelson
  • “We had a joke of the day. I wanted to send everyone out in a good mood. Nothing worse than a grumpy cop first thing.” - Grant Lanier

Now it’s your turn. Does your agency excel in engaging officers at 6 a.m.? Do you have a unique approach other agencies could learn from? Tell us about your roll call, what works, and what doesn’t, in the comments section below.

This article, originally published 02/24/2015, has been updated.

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