Let's say your academy training is six
months in duration.  During the second
half of that time, you may be assigned to
an FTO (Field Training Officer) where part
of your training will consist of actual
police work where you'll be performing as
a fully functional police officer.  Here's
where you'll first become familiar with
performance evaluation reports.

Some police departments will do a much
better job at creating and maintaining
standards for their performance
evaluation reports than others.  
However, no matter how objective
performance evaluations are purported to
be, it usually comes down to one
individual rating the work performance of
another individual.

Early in my career a young officer
approached me seeking advice.  The
officer, in the middle of his first year
probationary period, had received an
unsatisfactory quarterly performance
evaluation from his sergeant.  A second
consecutive unsatisfactory evaluation
would mean termination, so he was
obviously concerned.  While I didn't work
with the officer, I'd never heard anyone
speak negatively about him.  His
sergeant, on the other hand, was a
different story.  The sergeant had, on
several occasions, asked me to transfer
to his squad.  While the offers were
complimentary, I wasn't about to accept
the invitation since I personally viewed
the sergeant as a sadist.

That sergeant's high regard for me
ended abruptly one day after I became
involved in a deadly force situation.  
While I would have been perfectly
justified in shooting a suspect, things
happened rapidly, and I ended up
apprehending the suspect without using
deadly force.  After learning the details of
my incident, the sergeant promptly
confronted me, and, with a plethora of
insulting comments, he dis-invited me
from joining his squad.  I simply made
notes documenting the sergeant's rude
and sadistic comments and tucked them
away just in case, sometime in the
future, someone would try to put me
under that sergeant's supervision.  In
contrast, my sergeant was extremely
pleased that I was able to resolve the
situation without using deadly force, and
his opinion was the one that counted.

Back to that young officer.  I advised him
to seek a meeting with his lieutenant, via
the chain of command, and ask to be
supervised by another sergeant for his
next quarterly evaluation.  He followed
my advice.  His lieutenant denied his
request, and he subsequently received
his next evaluation from the same
sergeant.  Not surprisingly, he received
the second unsatisfactory evaluation, and
his employment was terminated.  I don't
know what ever happened to that
officer.  If he ever did apply to another
police agency, those unsatisfactory
evaluations would have dimmed his
prospects for employment considerably.
Oh, well, there's nothing simple in life...
or police work.  It's more than likely that
your performance evaluation report will
have some complexity.  While a written
directive should exist to describe how to
interpret and apply different categories,
it's a given that the more categories
which exist to rate performance will
dictate the variations in interpretation
and application exercised by individual

As should be expected, your
performance evaluation will enjoy a fairly
high level of confidentiality.  While the
subject material should have restricted
access for a variety of reasons, can you
imagine the displeasure and pure
dissension that would be created within
your squad if everyone could compare
their performance evaluations?

Fortunately, your performance
evaluations will have little, if any, impact
on your career as long as you remain
satisfactory or above.  In fact, you could
well work for a supervisor who has never
supervised anyone who he or she
believes excels beyond the satisfactory,
or average, level.  Most of the time,
supervisors who consistently rate people
low are themselves recipients of
performance evaluations on the low end
of the scale.

You might ask that since performance
evaluations are so seemingly unreliable,
why have them at all?  It's simply a
matter of discipline and control.  For any
supervisor who takes the performance
evaluation seriously, it can be a valuable
tool to address your deficiencies as well
as show recognition for your strengths.  
Even though you'll be a prejudiced
reviewer of your evaluation, as long as
your supervisor makes a real effort to
fairly, objectively, and accurately rate
your performance, negative or positive,
you'll be able to instantly recognize that
your supervisor has a pretty good
understanding of your strengths and
weaknesses.  When this circumstance
exists, the performance evaluation can
have a real and positive effect on your
personal development.
It would be nice if a truly objective
performance evaluation report existed.  
Now, I'd get plenty of arguments from
some people who contend they do exist,
but that view would just be the
subjective opinion of those people.  Do
you get my point?  Where ever a
person's objectivity is a primary factor
for any procedure, the objectivity of that
procedure becomes questionable.

The only real importance of the
performance evaluation report lies in
addressing unsatisfactory performance.  
If the goal is truly objectivity, there
should only be two categories for
performance... satisfactory and
unsatisfactory.  Unsatisfactory should be
easy to address since verifiable facts and
circumstances should exist to easily
articulate the basis for a rating of
unsatisfactory performance.  When
negative facts and circumstances are
absent, the satisfactory rating leaves no
room for subjective opinion.
"The only real importance of the
performance evaluation report lies in
addressing unsatisfactory
performance." ~ Barry M. Baker
Evaluation Report
Copyright © 2016  Barry M. Baker  
From the beginning to the end of your
police career, your work performance will
be continually evaluated through some
form of written evaluation procedure.  
Today, most police departments are
beginning that evaluation of your actual
work performance before the end of your
academy training with a Field Training
Officer program.