Hey officers – If the financial ask isn’t being granted, maybe it’s time to change the approach

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In previous articles we have spoken about:

  • the training philosophy,
  • law enforcement’s methodology of selecting police leaders and the effect that that has on all aspects of the mission
  • the need for specialized training on the frontline
  • The need for respect and compassion from the top down in police organizations and among other things
  • The police/public partnership where the public understands their role in the public safety mission.

So you are a CARING top leader and your budget is finite. Here’s what we know.

  • The mission doesn’t take into account the lack that your department may be facing so you must
  • The public still expects the police to be able to perform certain tasks irrespective of their logistical ability to do so and among other things
  • Departments need to be able to retain quality employees long enough to accomplish the mission and that comes at a cost both economically and socially

So knowing this, how do we tie it all together to have a TEAM of people that are willing and able to get the job done, keep the officers as safe as possible while doing it and the public happy with the police’s effort?

First step is buy-in to the fact that departments and the public are partners. They must demand that the top leader selected be a CARING individual.

As stated in a previous article departments can’t do this alone because they have no say over who will be selected to lead them. Here is where the public partnership comes in.

The public has a role in this because through elections and their vote they get to pick the person that will be appointing their department’s top leader.

Second step, once a CARING top leader is selected that person must get a ground up look at the needs of the mission and all of its elements. Some of the elements include:

  • proper selection of CARING subordinate leadership,
  • a thorough understanding of minimal equipment, training and logistical support needed by the frontline to perform the tasks expected of them and among many other things
  • the ability to adapt the strategy to accommodate deficiencies in budget, personnel and public relations.

The odds are already against the frontline, to subject them to unnecessary danger is neglect.

What do we mean by adapting the strategy? If you have 8 officers on a shift and only two vehicles the patrol method can’t be the same as if you had 8 officers and 5 vehicles or 17 officers and 8 vehicles.

Things to consider:

  • How fast can an officer on foot be to get to a call or to back another officer up and how Effective can they be when they finally get there?
  • Is it safe to put an officer on foot in a dangerous area? and among other things
  • How logistically close are foot beat officers to be able to access their high impact weapon (if they even have one) should the need occur?

Expectations go both ways. It is fine to expect greatness from those you lead, but realize that greatness is also expected of you and you must facilitate the environment prerequisite to being in the position to accomplish it.

So if the financial ask for what your department needs to do what is expected of it isn’t granted you simply cannot do what is expected as expected. At least not if you CARE about those you lead.

Sure most communities would love to see officers on constant patrol, but if the logistics aren’t there to support that, it would be unCARING and neglectful to expect that kind of performance from your personnel.

We are not saying you use lack of budget as an excuse for not being their for your public partners (community that relies on you), but we are saying that your officers would perform at higher levels if you adapted the strategy to one that takes their safety and well-being into account.

To illustrate what we are saying, how would you the CARING top police leader re-strategize your patrol effort when you are not able to afford to give your frontline all they need or you don’t have enough vehicles or enough people?

First you introduce tactical patrol. Especially when officers are on foot you can’t expect them to run around the block for eight hours like a chicken with their head cut off to satisfy the need for visibility. On the topic of visibility, here is something you may not have thought of.

You may have read Tactical Police Leadership: Ancient wisdom for modern policing. if you haven’t it is worth it. In it you will come to understand the downside to the visibility plan as your only strategy. If your officers are constantly visible they are dropping a pin for the bad element to see. If the bad element has constant tabs on where your officers are, they also by default know where they are not and can plan their attack to perpetrate a crime accordingly.

Additionally we must understand the difference between a show of presence and a show of force. One officer on a city block is a show of presence and thus a sitting duck. In tactical patrol they learn how to move from cover to cover, being visible long enough for the public to know they are there but not long enough to be a target. This also keeps the bad element guessing as to where your officers are.

More can be said here about tactical patrol but that is not the point of this article.

As the top CARING police leader your frontline depends on your interest and ability of setting the stage from where they can safely and effectively operate.

So how do you adapt the strategy to accommodate for the Deficiencies?

As the CARING top leader, you sit the public down for a from the Ground up conversation. In this conversation you will discuss what the public expects, your requirements to meet the need and a solid understanding of what moving forward looks like.

To the extent the public understands the partnership and their role in the public safety mission and you have been able to motivate and equip the frontline to perform the expected task, giving them a sense of ownership over the mission and the outcome, the ground work will be set for meaningful progress.

Here’s what we hopefully know by now:

  • the majority of the public will understand the partnership and their role in the public safety mission and will do their part if it is explained to them
  • As short as your department is, it is not as short as you think if you can get buy-in and get them all on board and among other things
  • No meaningful change can ever occur until you, the CARING top leader makes it a priority

Just because the money isn’t there to support and adequately CARE for your frontline that shouldn’t stop you from CARING about them and doing all in your power to ensure that the environment, training, equipment and logistical support that they need exists  to do what is expected of them as safe and effectively as possible.

Limited resources don’t change what the mission expects of you as the CARING top leader, but should absolutely change what you expect from your frontline.

If the financial ask isn’t being granted, it’s definitely time to change the approach.

Eric Aguiar LLB is an experienced law enforcement officer and published author in the field who CARES and hopes to be part of the solution. He would love the opportunity to put his passion for and knowledge of leadership/tactics and team building to work for agencies and communities looking to fortify mission effectiveness, officer safety and public relations.
Two of the biggest components/foundations to his message are: the importance that CARING leadership has to the success of the mission. From this everything else builds and that every call for service is a call for leadership.
Eric seeks to bring his 20 years of experience in the legal field and 11 years of experience in the law enforcement field to the table. He doesn’t proclaim to be the expert in the room but instead hopes to be the lightbulb in the room shedding light on critical issues that for years have been keeping departments and their members and partners from reaching their potential.
There are solutions to various issues plaguing the field such as, low retention rates, low morale, poor work culture, lack of: equipment, training and compassionate leadership  that only a CARING top leader will make the time to understand and seek to amend.
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