How to Address a Chief of Police?



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   1. Formula For
       How to Address     
   2. Q&A / Blog On
       Use of Rank by
       Retired Military    
 

   3. Q&A / Blog on
       How to Address
       Retired Military   
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How to Address a Police Officer
Detective or Chief of Police

FYI, here is what's come in to the Blog that relates to this office/rank.
   For recent questions sent in, check out Robert Hickey's Blog.

   For specific offices/ranks, check out Robert Hickey's On-Line Guide.


How to Address a Chief of Police?
    I am addressing a letter and an envelope to both the Police Chief of my city (not elected). How would I go about doing this correctly?

 
         -- Mickie Andrews

Dear Mickie Andrews:
     Many police officers hold a military style rank ... so the chief of police may be:
 
          Captain Mickie Andrews
 
          Chief of Police
           Arlington County
    And the salutation would be to him or her by rank:
  
          Dear Captain Andrews:
    But in some places the 'chief of police' is not from the uniformed ranks -- he or she is an administrator. For example in many places the 'chief' of police does not hold a military style rank ... and typically this person is a "commissioner of police. So he would bei:
  
          Mr. Mickie Andrews
            Commissioner of Police
            Arlington County
    And the salutation would be to:
            Dear Mr. Kelly:
    But to be sure -- the best course is to call the police department. The secretary in the chief's office will be certain what is the correct form of address for your community.
      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Assistant Chief of Police?
     How would I address an Assistant Chief of Police in a letter  - Dear Asst. Chief ______ or Dear Chief __________?

       -- L.M.W.

Dear L.M.W.,
    USE OF ASSISTANT CHIEF
    In direct address Assistant Chief would not be used as an honorific.
    The rule is: Address by rank, then identify the office. Being a Chief of Police or Assistant Chief of Police is not a rank,
they are offices/jobs one holds.
    Sometimes these jobs are held by police officers who actually have ranks ... and if they do they are correctly addressed by their rank such as:
            Lieutenant James Wilson, Assistant Chief of Police
           
Dear Captain Wilson
    In other jurisdictions these jobs are held by administrators who are not police officers. While these are typically police commissioners, if they were an an assistant to a chief of police, they would be correctly addressed as:
            Mr. James Wilson, Assistant Chief of Police
           
Dear Mr. Wilson
    USE OF CHIEF WHEN ADDRESSING an ASSISTANT CHIEF
    When in conversation with a Chief of Police -- Chief might be used in the style of military Chief Petty Officers and Master Chief Sergeants. These armed services personnel are addressed as Chief or Chief (Surname).
The difference is that Chief Petty Officers and Master Chief Sergeants have the ranks of Chief Petty Officers and Master Chief Sergeants and are not holding an office/job which is a chief of something.
    Addressing a Chief Petty Officer and Master Chief Sergeant as Chief in conversation is a shorthand for their full rank -- and is not the formal form of address used in writing or at formal events.
    So picking up on the military style, the Chief of Police might be informally called
Chief orally ... but it would definitely be wrong to his or her subordinate the promotion.
      
-- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Detective
 
       I need to write a thank you note to Detective Lieutenant William A. Barerra. Does the name or the title go first on the letter and envelope?  Is it:
                William A. Barerra, Detective Lieutenant ?
        or
                Detective Lieutenant William A. Barerra ?
 
       -- Patty in Stony Point, New York

Dear Patty:

        Detectives (the investigative members of police departments) have ranks just like the military:
                Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain .... etc.
        So a detective is a lieutenant, but not a detective lieutenant.
 
        .... so on a letter would be
                Lieutenant William A. Barerra
                Stony Point Police Department
                XXXXX, Stony Point, NY

        In conversation all the ranks of detective can be addressed as "Detective (Name)"
         -- Robert Hickey

Can I Use My Police Rank in Retirement
as a Public Safety Consultant and Trainer?

       I read about on your site how the Department of Defense (DoD) says retired military officers can use, and cannot use, their ranks in retirement. I am a retired police lieutenant from a municipal police agency, and I am offering my services as a public safety consultant and trainer.  I am eligible to use my police rank because I retired honorably after 21 years of service.  Please tell me what form or arrangement of my name and title would be most appropriate on a calling card?  I feel almost silly using the title, but it does lend credibility to my opinions, findings, and methods.  If anyone can settle this for me, I believe that you can.
       -- Lieutenant Ben Baldwin, SDPS, Retired

Dear Lieutenant Baldwin,
       The policies set out by the Department of Defense (DoD) are a useful precedent for the use of any paramilitary rank by a retired officer. Following that, if presenting your name with a rank as a consultant & trainer in retirement employment lends credibility to you and seems to imply an endorsement by the DoD  .... using your rank as part of your name would be exactly what the regulations are intended to prohibit.
       The DoD is clear in its regulations that use of ranks (identifying oneself by his or her former rank) by retired personnel is restricted to social use, and that ranks are not for use in subsequent professional endeavors. 
       While the DoD has it in writing ... the concept applies elsewhere:       
       * A former/retired Judge is socially addressed as Judge (Name).  He'd issue a wedding invitation for his daughter as Judge (Name) since it social and no one would think that somehow the wedding is any sort of an official event.
    But if he now works as a lobbyist in Washington for some industry, or as an attorney pleading cases in court ... professionally he becomes Mr. (Name).  His professional bio would include his former position, but not his card.  While everyone would know of  ... and value his experience ... his professional stationery reflects his current professional role.

       * A former/retired US ambassador is socially addressed as Ambassador (Name), but if he runs for political office he becomes Mr. (Name) ... although his bio would include his former diplomatic service. 
       E.g. his bio might read:

              ... Mr. (Name) served as the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium from 1990-1998...
       Or in your case it could be:
              ... Mr. Baldwin served for 21 years in municipal law enforcement achieving the rank of Lieutenant...
                     -- Robert Hickey


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