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dgr874
01-22-2007, 12:56 AM
Greetings all,

I was wondering if someone out there could give me a quick rundown on how the ranking system works in a typical police department. How many Sgt's, Lt's and Captians would you have vs. regular officers? What would you typically need to get promoted to those higher ranks? I specifically am interested in how LVMPD manages it's personnel. Thanks in advance!

Tim Dees
01-22-2007, 01:41 AM
Greetings all,

I was wondering if someone out there could give me a quick rundown on how the ranking system works in a typical police department. How many Sgt's, Lt's and Captians would you have vs. regular officers? What would you typically need to get promoted to those higher ranks? I specifically am interested in how LVMPD manages it's personnel. Thanks in advance!The larger the department, the more stable the cop-to-supervisor ratio will be. Smaller departments usually have a lot more supervisors per cop, in some cases having more supervisors than they have cops. But those departments are also more likely to have supervisors responding to calls, taking reports, and doing other work that supervisors in a large agency don't do.

There is a basic rule of management that says that the "span of control" should never go below 3 or above 8. That means that no one in a position of authority should ever have less than 3 or more than 8 people reporting to him directly. A patrol sergeant at a place like LVMPD will probably have 5 to 8 cops reporting to him administratively. That means he will be responsible for the oversight (performance reviews, discipline, training. etc.) of that many cops. If a shift occurs where all the sergeants except him have called in sick, he might have 30 to look after (and that kind of thing isn't especially unusual), but that's a short-term, operational issue.

If you're interested in promotional opportunities, the equation is a bit simpler. When promotional tests take place, an eligibility list is created. The list might be valid from one to three years (until the next test). During that time, vacancies will be filled from that eligibility list. Usually the chief of police (or, in the case of LVMPD, the sheriff) will go 1,2,3,4 and so on, but he may have a "rule of 3" (or another number) flexibility where he can choose anyone in the top three spots for a vacancy. If the agency is short on female or ethnic minority supervisors, and they usually are, don't be too surprised if The Big Guy passes a few white males to get to the minorities. It happened to me.

Anyone who has been around for a while can tell you about how many sergeants, lieutenants, etc. get promoted in a year. That number will be affected by a large number of retirements or a hiring push or freeze that changes the number of open slots, but it's generally predictable. If you come in #12 on the sergeants' list, and they typically promote only 8 or so a year, don't go out any buy new uniforms right away.

Perhaps someone from LVMPD can weigh in and give you the specifics there.

PhilipCal
01-22-2007, 01:33 PM
On the Alabama Dept of Public Safety, the Supervisor/Officer ratio is pretty much as Tim explained. Promotions are based upon a register established by the State Personnel Dept, which administers all entrance and promotional exams. The current promotion practice for all state govt agencies in Alabama is the "Rule of Three". That is, the top three applicants are submitted to the Dept head by the Personnel Dept. The dept head then makes his selection from those candidates.