Mentoring: The Key to Professional and Organizational Development




Smyser, Matthew B

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)


Interestingly one of the most important, influential, and yet undervalued human experiences is that of mentorship. Today’s law enforcement professionals find themselves in a unique, if not challenging and pivotal time in American history. Twenty first century police officers face a conglomerate of issues never before encountered in this country at one time. As such, newly-appointed officers are expected to perform at a high degree of effectiveness in an environment that does not easily forgive youth or inexperience. In addition, these same officers must be able to quickly adapt to an agencies culture and internal politics with little to no guidance from veteran personnel. For these reasons, law enforcement agencies should implement mentoring programs to aid in the development and support of their officers; increasing department productivity and loyalty. Mentoring programs offer many advantages to both individual officers and their respective departments. At its core, mentorship is a supportive relationship built on trust that allows for the free exchange of ideas between protégé and mentor (Sprafka & Kranda, 2000). As such, the very nature of mentoring, according to the research, provides for a system for continuous growth and development; resulting in a net gain of lifetime learns. The research also suggests that mentoring builds agency loyalty, resulting in increased employee retention rates. Finally, the research indicates that veteran officers, through a mechanics, allows them to give back, become empowered and become more engaged due to the trust placed in them by their agency. Because of the positive attributes of mentorship it is highly likely that mentoring programs will become routine in American law enforcement.



Police--Personnel Management, Mentoring