Jerry Barker’s Full February Story

I am very thankful for the opportunity every day to supervise the best employees on the face of this earth!  

Jerry Barker – Arizona ICAC Commander


I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday season! We are beginning 2018 with some great training and information for everyone to take advantage of. One of the topics many supervisors ask me about is how to manage their role in the mental health arena. This is a very sensitive area and a big responsibility for all of us. The last thing any of us want is an employee who is permanently damaged by the material and cases we investigate.

It is with my full commitment that I will provide you with some examples and knowledge of what I believe a supervisor should be doing for their staff. I’ve seen an extremely positive change in how supervisors are handling situations involving their role with the mental health aspect, and I’m very happy and proud to report that we are doing a great job! I have spoken with many of you during the commander’s meetings, as well as on the phone, about ways to deal with circumstances that may arise involving their employees.

To ascertain how we move forward and improve on what we are already doing, I will reflect on my previous experiences. Those of us who have been in law enforcement for over 20 years have seen the biggest changes. When I began my career almost 30 years ago, there was little to no information or guidance for supervisors regarding mental health and wellness, and certainly no formal instruction. In fact, most supervisors just referred the employee to city, state, or federal mental health programs to deal with it.

Many of our agencies invest a large amount of time and money into our employees, so supervisors have the responsibly to groom the employee into the best they can be. Over the years, I have been involved in numerous employee situations. One of the most difficult aspects has been when I must speak with the employee about their performance and try and determine what the issues are.

We all have been to supervisor school and are taught to document the employee conduct, both good and bad. I have found it, at times, tough to document, especially when you have a very good employee who starts to exhibit poor performance. I have seen employees begin to come in late, leave early, and not complete much work. They become withdrawn, and at times confrontational. These are all signs that the employee is exhibiting some form of compassion fatigue or a wellness issue. We, as supervisors, have a moral obligation to make sure we take care of that employee. I feel it is of the utmost urgency to maintain a close contact with each employee to prevent this from happening.

I am in contact daily with my staff and every month I make sure to have a personal meeting with the employee and ask them how they are doing. I provide a time for them to open-up and explain if there are any issues with cases or other employees on the squad or unit. I believe in doing this, because I am maintaining the wellness of that employee and doing my best as a supervisor to prevent the “crash and burn situation”.

It is our responsibility, morally and ethically, to watch out for our people. We are not mental health providers, but we know our people the best. I believe when we put in the time upfront each month, we will prevent major employee issues. I believe that our employee is the most important asset in our departments. We need to do everything possible to maintain a healthy and successful environment. The role of every supervisor regarding the mental health and wellness of their staff is extremely important and should be their priority.

We have the best of the best in ICAC and Crimes Against Children. They are here because they want to make a difference. As a supervisor, it is my duty to maintain an open relationship for my people. I believe in giving them time off, writing commendations, and listening to their cases. I’ve invested a lot of time in each of my people and have had much success and positive outcomes.

I feel very strongly that a supervisor should be familiar with each of their staff. Ask yourself, “Do I know my staff’s children’s names and their spouse’s name?” and “Do I know what hobbies they have?”. This goes a long way in making each of us a better supervisor. Our goal should be to retain our employees under our supervision for as long as possible, and when the employee leaves, they should have a great sense of accomplishment. We must do all we can to be sure when our employee retires or leaves our unit, they are happy and know that they have made a big difference due to their contributions to our team.

I am very thankful for the opportunity every day to supervise the best employees on the face of this earth!

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