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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  The Column  >  5 Reasons Good Cops Carry Business Cards

The Column
Police and Law Enforcement News
, February 28, 2012  9:32 a.m.


"If they don't pay for them, I'm not getting them."

You may have heard this before referring to business cards. The source was probably that older, saltier, grouchier guy counting down the final months until he pulls the plug on his twenty-five.

Unfortunately, he sells others on his philosophy, and that’s a real shame. This thinking comes from a time where guys were making thirteen grand a year between working as a cop and the side job.

But that's not the case anymore. Hopefully, we're getting rid of this mentality and building on the successes of our predecessors. And one of their most important successes was to begin professionalizing law enforcement.

Business cards are an absolute essential for anyone wanting to be taken seriously as an accomplished member of any profession. (And we're not talking about those generic, schlocky, fill-in-your-name-on-the-empty-line cards either)

While some departments supply their officers with business cards, most do not. And with the economy continuing its decline, there is little chance that this will change any time soon.

But it doesn't have to change. If your agency doesn't supply them, go out and get them yourself. Chances are you have a print shop in town friendly to their local cops. Even if you don't, the purchase is tax deductable.

If you're still that reluctant, consider some of the benefits of having business cards:

1. Enhances Image of Officers and Department

A professional looking business card is an ambassador to a professional officer and a professional agency. If you want to be taken seriously by attorneys, business owners, civic organizations, and other professional organizations, you have to play the part.

2. Promote and Brand Yourself

Making a good name is extremely important in law enforcement. Whether it be for aligning yourself for lateral or upward movement, building credibility in the legal community, or just making a name for yourself as a great cop, business cards get your name out there.

3. More Formal Letters and Commendations

How many times has someone told you a story about a great interaction with an officer but did not know the officer's name? Chances are, one of your encounters was described similarly to another officer and your name was forgotten.

Despite what the media says, the great majority of interactions between law enforcement and the public are positive, often surprisingly positive to some who expected the worst when dealing with police. Many citizens would like to send a letter, an email, or at least describe your encounter to a council or committee person but can't because they don't remember your name.

4. Helps Make us More Friends!

"Sir, here's my card. If you get any runaround when trying to pick up a copy of the report, give me a call." How far do you think that kind of gesture would go with most people? At a time where our collective approval rating is on the lower side, we need more friends, more allies. Whether your motive involves better contracts, better juries, better citizen review boards, or just better law enforcement, the way to accomplish all of them is through better relationships with our communities.

5. More Hooks, More Contacts, More Information

Law enforcement is all about who you know and how many people you know in all levels of society. When ordinary citizens come across extraordinary information, they often do not know who to call and don't want to blindly call their local station or precinct. But they will call that cop who was nice and helped them out last year. Becoming known as the officer who knows everybody and always seems to come up with unique information is a great way to further your career.

It is suggested that you check with your agency before placing an order to see if there is a uniform format.

The alternative to having business cards is ripping a piece of paper out of your smart book and writing your name on it. But, hopefully, we’ve made a good pitch, and you’re on board.


Share your Thoughts on This Column

While all opinions will be considered, we will not post any messages that are inflammatory, that bash any ethnic group, or that are just beyond reason.  Letters will be reviewed and posted each day. reserves the right to alter, shorten, or decline any submission. 



Your Comments

I find this is a great way to minimize complaints also. If somebody has a problem or questions about what I did or didn't do on a job I would rather they call me first and let me take care of it. Here is my card and my contact info. I'm not perfect and we all can overlook something at times. Let me clean up my messes instead of calling the supervisor or Chief. I have gone back and had the opportunity to make people happy or get them off my backs without the bosses having to get involved and treating the situation like it's a citizen complaint.

You hit on the key word "professional" several times.  We are in a profession and many expect us to act like professionals.  This is one easy, and not too costly way to maintain (or get) that image. The fifth point is better described as networking.  It makes networking in our profession easier, and certainly with members of the public. 

Sometimes citizens attempt to use these as courtesy cards.  I've seen some where "this is not a courtesy card" is printed at the bottom.  Or, I've written a case number on the face of my cards many times, which is a very professional and discreet way of saying it is not a courtesy card.






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