Staying Sharp in Our Honorable Profession

By Mark St.Hilaire

I recently read an article by Lt. Chris J. Cole: Improving Your Command Presence 1. A great article which reminds me of the basics for every person to succeed within our Honorable Profession.

Every one of us has an opportunity and an obligation to mentor each other constructively whether you are an experienced, well trained and problem solving veteran like me (THE OLD GUY) or a new recruit, cadet, Explorer or volunteer. We all have the rare opportunity to guide, show and teach our peers within this ever changing profession.

The veterans can explain why we conduct business in a certain way along with some examples (easy on the war stories) and our younger generations can help many of us with things like technology (patience, as I need to be shown a few times for me to catch on).

Our command presence is key to being an effective and successful LEO.  We certainly have it in the recruit academy, field training and some of us live by this code on and off duty through their careers.

I’d like to highlight some of Lt. Cole’s article to point out the three tenets he describes in Command Presence that I believe in.

  1. LOOK SHARP – When we are well groomed and wearing a clean-pressed uniform we present a great image not only to our community but to our clients.

Many years ago, I heard the story during an officer safety class about shining your shoes and boots.  The story discusses an interview with a cop killer.  He stated that he sizes up an officer by looking at the officer’s shoes.  If the shoes are dirty and not polished, he figures he can take this officer on as he shows no self-discipline.  When he encounters an officer who is dressed sharp and wearing clean polished shoes, the man stated that he is not going mess with that officer because if he is squared away in appearance then he is squared away tactically.

  1. ACT SHARP- Our behavior on and off duty is a reflection of our profession.  We encounter people in many situations and behaviors.  In our modern day of cameras everywhere along with the internet and social media, we need to be on top of our game with our communication skills and our own conduct.  We must project a strong image in the way we walk and talk.  Acting and speaking like a professional while showing respect to everyone may help keep us alive and avoiding a professional standards investigation.
  2. BE SHARP- Everyone of us has the opportunity to change and improve ourselves.  This includes our work performance.  We must take care of our bodies and minds by eating healthy foods and getting the proper rest.  We need to exercise our bodies not only to help us look sharp by maintaining a proper weight but preparing us for the stressful situations we will face especially hand to hand combat skills with someone who may want to hurt or kill us.

Our communities and our peers deserve these basics from all of us. As a profession we do and should expect a lot out of each other and our communities expect a lot from us too.

Let’s work together as a team to help revive and improve the basics of Command Presence within law enforcement.




  1. 1.       Lt. Chris Cole, Improving Your Command Presence.


First published for: L.E.T.