How to Address a Police Officer | Chief of Police

How to Address a Chief of Police
How to Address a Police Officer
How to Address a Policeman

Police Departments are organized in a variety of ways.

—-#1) Often the highest administrative official in a municipal police department is a commissioner, chief, superintendent or director of public safety.  These officials are addressed as:

—-Envelope or address block on letter or email:
—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr. (Full Name)
—-—-(Office Held)
—-—-(Police Department)
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation:
—-—-Mr./Madam Commissioner
——–Commissioner (Surname)
——–Chief (Surname)
——–Superintendent (Surname)
——–Director (Surname)
——–Mr./Ms./Dr. (Surname)

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

—-#2) Deputy commissioner, deputy chief, and chief (of a portfolio) are among the offices held by police officials. If they do not have paramilitary ranks, address as Mr./Ms. (Name). In oral conversation their title, e.g., Deputy chief (Name), may be used as an honorific when indicating their office is useful. These officials are addressed as:

—-Envelope or address block on letter or email:
—-—-(Rank) (Full Name)
—-—-(Office Held)
—-—-(Police Department)
—-—-(Address)

—-—-Mr./Ms./Dr. (Full Name)
—-—-(Office Held)
—-—-(Police Department)
—-—-(Address)

Salutation
——–Deputy Commissioner (Surname)
——–
Deputy Chief (Surname)
——–Chief (Surname)
——–Mr./Ms./Dr. (Surname)

—-#3) Police officers often use paramilitary ranks within their hierarchy: captain, commander, lieutenant, sergeant, and officer. Use the individual’s rank as an honorific in every form of direct address: (rank) (name). ‘Officer’ can be used when informally addressing any uniformed officer if you don’t know their exact rank: How to Address a Police Officer

—-Envelope or address block on letter or email:
—-—-(Rank) (Full Name)
—-—-(Police Department)
—-—-(Address)

—-—-Officer (Full Name)
—-—-(Police Department)
—-—-(Address)

—-Salutation:
—-—-Captain (Surname)
—-—-Officer (Surname)

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Chief of Police How to Address a Police Officer

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

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

I read 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,
You can mention in your rank in your marketing materials, but not a part of your name on your card.

The policies set out by the Department of Defense (DoD) provide a precedent for the use of a rank by a retired lofficer. If presenting your name with a rank as a consultant & trainer in retirement employment could be interpreted to imply some connection with your former employer …. then using your rank as part of your name would be discouraged.

The DoD is clear in its regulations that use of ranks by retired personnel (identifying oneself by ‘rank + name’) is restricted to social use. Ranks are not for use in subsequent professional endeavors.

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

While the DoD has it in writing … the concept applies elsewhere:

—-#1) 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 biography/resume/CV 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.

—-#2) 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’

See separate post on Detective.  How to Address a Chief of Police

See separate post on Texas Ranger.

– Robert Hickey How to Address a Chief of Police

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of "Honor & Respect"