Weight Classes Aside, It’s All Boxing

Why the size of your agency doesn't really matter

By David Magnusson  |   Mar 29, 2019
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I was in a meeting recently where I was asked about my career in law enforcement. I told them I had gone from the City of Miami (retiring as a major) to the military City of Havelock, N.C., where I served as their chief of police for a little over three years. More than one person commented that there must have been a very huge difference. I replied, “In the amount of calls, you would be correct. But that’s about it.”

Those in the meeting looked perplexed by this response.

What Did I Mean?

I’ll say it again. Apart from the disparity in calls for service, there are no substantive differences, in my experience, between agencies large and small.

You’ve got to be out of your mind!!!!

Bear with me.

Think of a heavyweight boxer. Perhaps Ali or Tyson? Pick one. Now pick a great welterweight. Perhaps “Sugar” Ray Leonard orTommy Hearns? Ok, let’s go even smaller. Let’s talk lightweights. How about Roberto Duran (in his prime) or a very young Mayweather?

Could Tyson beat Hearns? Heck yes. Ali would chop up Duran, who would get hurt every time he tried to move in on Ali. Point is, the heavyweight will beat the middleweight, who will beat the featherweight, who will beat the flyweight. That’s a no brainer. It’s why weight classes exist.

Is it more challenging to run a police department in New York City (heavyweight) over Miami (light heavyweight)? Is running Chicago PD (heavyweight) far more important than taking the helm at Havelock (lightweight)? The answers seem obvious.

But you would be incorrect.

One cannot compare different weight classes especially transcending multiple classes. Yes, a heavyweight’s jab is far harder than a flyweights best right cross. But this is not how to view things.

How to View Police Agencies & Boxers

One must look at flyweights fighting other flyweights, or bantamweights fighting each other. The skills that the heavyweight must possess to be successful are exactly the same skills that the featherweight must own. A good jab with a strong right can dictate the pace of a fight. A good defense will also go a long way offering many more offensive opportunities. To be called a great fighter transcends all weight classes.

Likewise, being called a great cop transcends the agency size whether you are management or rank and file.

Regardless of the weight class, as pertains to the size of the agency, honesty and professionalism are an absolute must. Being well-trained is as important in Havelock as it is in New York City. Bad people always go into good areas to wreak havoc. Disrespecting a citizen in Chicago is no different that disrespecting a citizen in the smallest town in Rhode Island or Nebraska. The profession of law enforcement will get slammed. An officer gunned down in a five person department in Wyoming is as tragic and horrific as it would be in Los Angeles.

While a high-profile police corruption case may garner more media coverage in Philadelphia, Pa., than it would in Philadelphia, Miss., the damage to the reputation of the given agencies and the community it serves is no different.

So What?

No matter where you have sworn an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, as a peace officer, you are still that proverbial boxer. The weight class doesn’t matter. If you’re a good fighter, you’ll be known as such. No one ever said, “Marvin Hagler was great for a middleweight.” Nope.

Hagler was simply great.

I think that is how we must think too. Whether your department is 5,000 officers (plus) or merely five officers, the task is still the same: Serve and protect the community you serve, be it 2,000 people or 2 million. Each and every one of those people are depending upon you.

When that bell rings, you best know what to do and how to do it. Whatever your weight is, be proud and fight to win.

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David Magnusson

David Magnusson

Magnusson is the chief of police for the Village of El Portal Police department. Prior to this, he was police chief of the Havelock (N.C.) Police Department. He also spent 30 years with the Miami Police Department, retiring there as a major. Magnusson is a graduate of American Military University with a Master's in Military history. Chief Magnusson also boxed as an amateur for twenty-six years. You will find his passion for history and boxing in many of his writings. Magnusson and his wife Rosa reside in South Florida, where they have five children and two grandkids.
David Magnusson

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