Interview Tom Reiner, Police Lieutenant in Georgia
Tom Reiner is a member of the Dekalb Fraternal Order of Police. He was born and raised in Dekalb County, Georgia and began his career with the Dekalb County Police Department on November 9, 1987. This veteran officer has served for over two decades in the roles of uniform patrolman, detective, uniform sergeant, detective sergeant, and is currently a uniform lieutenant. He is an active member of the Fraternal Order of Police and enjoys helping the disadvantaged and children and family in the community in a unique way.
What led you to pursue the profession of a police officer?
I did not think about becoming a police officer as a young man, however, I always respected my local police agency. I completed college and began looking for a stable career with benefits and the opportunity to perform different duties on a daily basis.
I did not think I would become a career police officer, however, I found many rewards (stability, excitement, opportunity to help others) early in my career that have made it one of the best decisions in my life.
Name some guidelines you would offer to a police officer just entering the field.
- The profession and the public expect and require police personnel to maintain a higher level of integrity and professionalism than non police personnel. Those entering public safety should already be a law abiding citizen and realize the expectations facing them in this profession require that they maintain a strong moral, ethical and professional behavior at all times, on duty and off.
- Persons should also be capable of understanding and following continuous verbal and written guidelines. Those who are unable to follow guidelines have difficulty performing and maintaining employment in public safety.
- Persons must be physically and mentally fit to serve as a police officer.
What challenges or obstacles might someone face as they consider a career in policing?
Police agencies vary greatly in the following, which can be challenging for employees:
- Call volume
- Lack of respect from citizens
- Opportunity for promotions
- Budget cuts
- On the job injury or death
Describe an interesting case or project that you have worked on as a cop. What was your role and how did you work to produce a positive outcome?
This is a difficult question. I would like to think that all my arrests resulted in a positive outcome to someone. I certainly believe that when persons who are involved in domestic violence, burglars, murderers, child molesters, etc., when removed from free society result in a positive outcome.
I have been very involved in the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) for 25 years; this organization allows me to aid in helping other police personnel and disadvantaged children/families in our community. Police personnel see the worst of humanity, getting involved in organizations like the FOP allow me to help others in ways that usually can’t be managed during routine police performance.
What is your best advice for a person just starting in law enforcement?
Never forget that the citizens you serve are your customers – from one call to the next you will encounter citizens who may welcome you and thank you for your assistance, disrespect you and dislike you because of your profession and in some cases try to hurt you. You must balance each of these encounters and manage them professionally and morally. I make sure that I can face myself in the mirror at the beginning and end of each day.
What are the most important technological advances in law enforcement that have emerged in the past five or 10 years? How have these advances impacted your profession?
- Tasers – aid in reducing injuries for officers and suspects.
- Video and audio recorders in police units – excellent in defending false accusations against police, assist in court proceedings, show job performance of police personnel, aid in training, etc.
- Computer Technology – computers in vehicles – provides maps, photos, databases, call information, electronic reports, etc.
What do you consider your most important strength as a police officer and how does this show up in your work?
I make every effort to manage personnel and situations calmly. I believe this is certainly a beneficial characteristic when dealing with strong-minded employees and citizens with varying degrees of emotions. Maintaining a calm environment helps deescalate situations.
We extend our gratitude to Tom Reiner for sharing these valuable insights with our readers.