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Police1 asked: What can police supervisors do to be better role models?

Candid feedback from officers in Police1’s State of the Industry survey highlights actionable steps supervisors can take to create a culture where officers feel valued and supported

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Police supervisors play a pivotal role in shaping the work environment, morale and overall effectiveness of their officers.


Editor’s note: Police1’s “What Cops Want in 2024" survey is now open. This year’s focus is on officer wellness. We urge you to participate and share your insights around this critical topic. Complete the survey here.

The role of a police supervisor extends far beyond oversight; it’s intertwined with the morale, performance and professional fulfillment of the officers they oversee.

In Police1’s second annual State of the Industry survey, which provides an unprecedented window into the minds of those who protect and serve, we asked: What’s one thing your police supervisor could do to become a better role model?

Feedback from officers highlights a critical consensus: The need for supervisors to embody leadership through improved communication, active listening and supportive advocacy.

The “What Cops Want” survey delves deep into issues of morale, job satisfaction and leadership dynamics within law enforcement. The leadership qualities that officers noted in the survey, including the enforcement of accountability and fairness, as well as active engagement in mentorship and opportunities for growth and development, can significantly elevate job performance and overall satisfaction.

Download this in-depth analysis of Police1’s State of the Industry survey on the support officers need from their supervisors and leaders to perform at their peak

[Want a downloadable deep dive infographic that you can share to start discussions within your department? Click here to complete the “Access this Police1 Resource” box!]

Below, we’ll examine the candid feedback from officers, highlighting actionable steps toward creating an environment where officers feel valued, supported and understood. Embracing this feedback is key to fostering a culture of respect, growth and success.

What officers are saying about how their supervisors can become better role models:

These responses shed light on the role of police supervisors and the profound impact their leadership style has on the morale and effectiveness of their officers. Moreover, they serve as a guide for supervisors aiming to enhance their leadership effectiveness and build stronger, more resilient law enforcement teams.

  • “Advocate (to their supervisor) for what is right/correct while supporting officers.”
  • “Apply the policy and procedures fairly throughout the entire department so that every officer has an equal playing field.”
  • “As a department, our supervisors are not on patrol very often – if at all. I think it would be beneficial for them, and as a role model, to get out of the office and take calls with us.”
  • “Back their officers more. Stand up to upper management when they are creating policies that negatively impact morale.”
  • “Be consistent and fair with how everyone is treated. Don’t play favorites. Lead by example.”
  • “Be more innovative toward change and transition.”
  • “Be more intentional about leadership development.”
  • “Be more involved and give feedback more frequently.”
  • “Focus on developing our young line supervisors in the direction the department is headed.”
  • “Get feedback from officers before making decisions that impact them.”
  • “Invested interest in creating a positive work environment and increasing the quality of work life for employees. Be open to change and realize the future vision does not have to align with the past.”
  • “Listen to the entire problem before attempting to solve it.”
  • “Observe us during a shift every so often. I belong to a specialized unit with irregular hours and most people do not understand what we do, including the chain of command.”
  • “Set a professional example by demonstrating that they care about their facility and staff.”
  • “Support officers to get more training. Find ways to get them there even with low manpower.”
  • “Treat everyone equally and give them fair opportunities for advancement.”

Zoom in

Based on the feedback from officers who participated in the survey, here are five action items for police supervisors aiming to enhance their leadership effectiveness and improve the work environment for their officers:

1. Enhance communication and active listening: This includes not only conveying information clearly and promptly but also actively listening to officers’ concerns, suggestions and feedback. Schedule regular meetings, ensure open-door policies are effective, and engage with your officers to demonstrate that their voices are heard and valued.

2. Foster professional development: This could involve identifying individual strengths and career aspirations, facilitating access to training and development opportunities, and empowering officers to take initiative and make decisions within their scope of work. Recognizing and rewarding hard work and dedication should be part of this effort to motivate and inspire your officers.

3. Lead by example with integrity and transparency: This means adhering to the same standards across the board, demonstrating a commitment to professionalism, and being transparent about decisions and the rationale behind them. Integrity in actions and decisions builds trust and respect, laying the foundation for a motivated team of officers.

4. Implement fair and equitable treatment: Ensure that all team members are treated fairly and equally, with no favoritism. Apply policies and procedures consistently, address deficiencies promptly and constructively, and recognize the contributions of each officer. Fair treatment is crucial for maintaining morale and trust.

5. Prioritize officer wellbeing and supportive leadership: Acknowledge the challenges and stresses officers face in their roles and prioritize their wellbeing. A leadership style that offers guidance, support and constructive feedback can help officers navigate these challenges more effectively.

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[Want a downloadable deep dive infographic that you can share to start discussions within your department? Click here to complete the “Access this Police1 Resource” box!]

Zoom out

By adhering to these recommendations, police supervisors will not only improve the experience of current officers but also positively influence individuals considering a career in law enforcement. Here are three ways these action items can motivate and inspire both current and prospective officers:

1. Emphasis on leadership and professional development opportunities: Offering officers at all levels opportunities to lead, whether through special projects, mentoring or temporary supervisory roles, empowers them and enhances their professional development.

For current officers, these opportunities can provide a sense of progression and the chance to develop new skills, boosting their engagement and commitment to the department.

Prospective officers may view this as an attractive aspect of the department, indicative of a clear pathway for career advancement and the chance to take on leadership roles early in their careers. This approach cultivates a pipeline of future leaders within the department, ensuring its long-term success and adaptability.

2. Establishing a culture of communication and support: Officers want to work in an environment that emphasizes open communication, fairness and support for officer wellbeing.

With this type of culture created and communicated to potential employees, officers will feel empowered and encouraged to share their ideas and insights to contribute to improvements in policing strategies, technologies and practices. This type of culture can keep a department at the forefront of law enforcement best practices, enhancing its effectiveness and adaptability in facing new challenges.

3. Creating feedback loops for continuous improvement: Establishing mechanisms for officers to provide feedback on policies, procedures and leadership practices – and ensuring that this feedback is actively used to make improvements – can significantly enhance officer motivation.

For current officers, knowing that their insights can lead to real change fosters a sense of investment in the department’s success. Prospective officers observing or learning about this inclusive and responsive approach may be more inclined to join a department that values and acts upon its members’ feedback, seeing it as a dynamic and progressive workplace where their voices will be heard.

The bottom line

Police supervisors play a pivotal role in shaping the work environment, morale and overall effectiveness of their officers.

By embracing strategies that enhance communication, support professional development, ensure fairness and prioritize wellbeing, supervisors can profoundly impact both the satisfaction of their current team and the attractiveness of their department to prospective recruits.

These recommendations must inspire supervisors to perform to the best of their ability – as their leadership directly influences the success of their officers and the broader mission of their department. By continuously seeking feedback, being open to change and committing to the growth and support of their team, supervisors can create an environment where officers feel valued, supported and motivated to perform at their best.


Sarah Calams, who previously served as associate editor of and, is the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Sarah delves deep into the people and issues that make up the public safety industry to bring insights and lessons learned to first responders everywhere.

Sarah graduated with a bachelor’s degree in news/editorial journalism at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Have a story idea you’d like to discuss? Send Sarah an email or reach out on LinkedIn.