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View Full Version : What do you call someone in charge at a police station?



RainyDayNinja
01-04-2011, 09:52 PM
In a story I'm working on, some people are stuck overnight at a small police station on the outskirts of town. The highest ranking officer there is a lieutenant, but I'm not sure what they should call him to refer to his status as the person in charge at the time.

alleycat
01-04-2011, 10:07 PM
Maybe just . . . officer in charge.

Is this small police station (precinct or sector) part of a small police department, or is it part of a larger police department. For larger police departments they often have names like Night Watch Commander (who is often a lieutenant, as I understand it; with a captain in charge of the station otherwise).

cornetto
01-04-2011, 10:43 PM
I would address him as "sir", lol. Otherwise...lieutenant. As part of the narrative, Watch Commander should work.

Rowan
01-05-2011, 05:15 AM
There are a few cops on the board (RJK for one). I'm sure he can give you an answer! :)

Stanmiller
01-05-2011, 05:39 AM
Most likely they'd just call him Lieutenant, or LT. Or go with whatever you want them to call him. It's fiction.
Stan

thothguard51
01-05-2011, 05:47 AM
The officer is charge is generally referred to as the watch commander, I think.

mscelina
01-05-2011, 05:48 AM
At night where I'm from? Usually a sergeant. But I'm with cornetto. I'd call him 'yes sir, no sir, I want to call my lawyer, sir.'

Rabe
01-05-2011, 09:49 AM
In a story I'm working on, some people are stuck overnight at a small police station on the outskirts of town. The highest ranking officer there is a lieutenant, but I'm not sure what they should call him to refer to his status as the person in charge at the time.

Okay, my 'sir' joke has been hijacked, abused, tortured and thoroughly killed, so I'll just let it go. Sadly.

However, "Lt." should work fine. It may also depend on the characters and where they're from and what they're used to.

We don't use 'watch commander' in my area and it's kind of interesting when I hear it used in reference to speaking with a supervisor. So, if the characters aren't going to refer to him by rank or name, then what their experiences are might be the best way to go.

If it were me, I'd be correcting anyone calling me 'watch commander'.
(and I'm even trying to change some of our terminology around here - from 'lead deputy' to 'senior deputy')

Rabe...

Bufty
01-06-2011, 12:44 AM
I don't follow the question.

Surely if he's a lieutenant that's what they should call him. Why should there be any need for them to refer to him in any other manner?

shaldna
01-06-2011, 12:58 AM
If he's a lieutenant then he would be called Lieutenant So and So, or the Lieutenant.

If you want to mention him as being the officer in charge, then he would just be 'the officer in charge' I guess.

RainyDayNinja
01-06-2011, 03:31 AM
I wanted someone to say "We can't ask you to go, because you're the [whatever]," referring specifically to his status as the officer in charge. It sounds like I should be safe with just "officer-in-charge." Thanks guys!

HopeWelsh
01-17-2011, 01:09 AM
Then use Watch Commander. A lot would depend on the size of your department. Since most people won't know that in a small police dept, he'd just be called Lieutenant, it might make it easier for them to understand.

Small-town departments don't usually use terms like "Watch Commander" -- at least the one I worked in didn't.

Pistol Whipped Bee
01-17-2011, 01:25 AM
In a story I'm working on, some people are stuck overnight at a small police station on the outskirts of town. The highest ranking officer there is a lieutenant, but I'm not sure what they should call him to refer to his status as the person in charge at the time.

Are the people civilians, unfamiliar with officer rankings? If so, they'd probably call the lieutenant - officer. They wouldn't know any better.

sf.writer.mdk
01-22-2011, 11:29 AM
This doesn't answer your direct question, but I've called the California highway patrol about walking on highways, and the receptionist would always direct me to the "Watch Officer".

RJK
01-22-2011, 06:10 PM
When addressing him, you'd say Lieutenant, or Sir. When refering to him, it would depend on how the department is organized. He could be called, Shift Commander, Captain, Watch Cammander, Station Commander, Precinct Commander, or any number of titles. Or, they might just say "You'll have to talk to the lieutenant."

mack
01-22-2011, 07:48 PM
The previous poster is right on. Many on his list will do. Different departments have differents names for the boss on duty. We call him the duty supervisor.