Best Practices for Writing Police Employee Evaluations

As a law enforcement officer, you know that while the main focus of your job has to do with public safety, you can’t completely avoid the paperwork. It’s dull and routine, but as someone’s supervisor, you are expected to provide timely performance evaluations and other related reports. Do you often find yourself staring at a blinking cursor, not knowing how to start a performance review? If so, read on to explore the best practices for performance evaluations, so that you never have to give yourself a pep talk before you have to write another one.

Illustrate Your Position With Examples

Whether you are pointing out “exceptional performance” or a “lack of moral fiber,” be sure to include specific examples that support your words. State the date and time when a character-revealing event happened and describe it objectively. Include a case number when applicable and be detailed in substantiating your claims. Remember that a performance evaluation is not a one-sided process; you are also being evaluated as a supervisor. And if you can’t back up your claims with evidence, this raises questions about how well you supervised.

Document Performance Throughout the Year

Of course, it’s tough to remember everything that happened over the past 6-12 months. No wonder you don’t know what to write about—you haven’t kept any notes! Or you kept them inconsistently, jotting scattered words on random pieces of paper—who knows where they are now? The key to writing a fair and objective performance evaluation is to have notes and supporting documents that you’ve collected over the evaluation period. They should include every incident when the person you are evaluating stood out, whether in a good or bad way.
So how do you keep all of these notes and papers organized? Some police officers use daily planners, but at MdE we’ve found that computer software can make your job much easier. For example, our employee performance evaluation module allows you to add journal entries from anywhere and at any time, as long as you have internet access. You can also attach photos and other documents to your entries. And supervisors from other departments can also add notes about the same employee if they had a chance to work together. This helps you see the bigger picture and look beyond how an employee behaves in your presence.

Encourage Your Employees to Keep Notes

Sometimes, you get busy and things just slip your mind and fall off your radar. If this happens, wouldn’t it be helpful if you could ask your employee to provide a list of their biggest achievements and weaknesses, in their opinion? These are the things your employee considers important and it may or may not differ from what you have in your notes. This is a good opportunity to fact-check your evaluation and make sure you mentioned everything worth noting.

Space it Out

If you have to write several performance reviews, try not to schedule them all for the same day. By the 5th or 6th you will run out of the different ways to communicate your observations. And using the same evaluation phrases over and over will make you sound like you can’t describe subtle differences in each employee’s performance. After all, each employee is unique and so is their performance. If you do end up writing several reviews in the same day, you could use this cheat sheet (and there are many more online) of performance evaluation phrases and statements to help make your vocabulary more diverse.

Create a Template

Your department probably has a set format for performance evaluations, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have your own template. You can use your best-written performance review as a template to keep referring to all the things you did right. Having a template is not the same as copying it word for word for each new review. It simply allows you to follow a consistent evaluation structure and lets you know what you should talk about in each section. When you have such a framework, it’s much easier to keep your performance evaluations logical and straightforward.
Interested in learning more about how performance evaluations software can help streamline your record keeping and the entire employee review process? Give MdE, Inc. a call or contact us online to schedule a free demo!