Let me start by saying that I have worked for and survived some of the greatest police chiefs.
That being said, I have learned from the best and the worst. I am the ‘Old Sergeant’ in the department that is respected, but will not be promoted.
I’ve been told numerous times that I would make a great Lieutenant if I took leadership classes. So, I did, but nothing changed.
It seems that SWAT, SRT, or whatever you call them always seem to get promoted and help their buddies when they can.
We get angry.
In these leadership classes you realize you are being taught inside a vacuum.
You realize that you are only getting angrier listening to how leaders should be leading. You realize that friendships are often more important than how well you do on a promotional exam.
You begin to become angry.
I am in a classroom learning about the two (allegedly) most important words in law enforcement leadership. Either way, I do believe these specific words are the most important qualities in a department.
Communication and accountability.
I know. Here come the eye rolls.
I was taught that communication is the lifeline of the department. And I do agree. Most communication that you will get will be numerous emails, bolos, and random gossip about any and everyone, including you when you’re not around.
There is a breakdown somewhere between the chiefs and their officers. Officers often feel like they have no idea what is going on in their own department and feel blindsided with some of the decisions that are made. Sometimes they are asked for their opinion by a captain or chief in roll call about a current topic. But most officers know not to raise their hand. The brave ones who do raise their hand with a differing view are often seen as troublemakers, calling out the administration in public. This won’t be forgotten.
Don’t ask a question if you don’t want an answer.
We become angry.
Accountability is probably the most important quality of a police department.
In a time of political correctness and snowflakes, we cater to younger officers who don’t understand the concept of doing more than the minimum. So as a leader, I talk to them. The empty look in their eyes lets you know they are only going to continue to strive toward mediocrity.
No one will hold them accountable. We need them for staffing reasons. The applicant pool for law enforcement is dwindling every day, but if you don’t hold people accountable for their actions, the officers lose faith in their command. They lose respect when a friend is held accountable for something they did when a friend of someone high up isn’t for the exact violation.
They get mad.
There is a word that leadership classes should teach.
Most people in law enforcement have done something that is embarrassing or even plain dumb, but when we learn from our mistakes and are never given an opportunity to promote or transfer to a different division, we eventually lose faith. Everyone has the right to redemption if it is earned. Without it, we don’t just get mad… we give up.
If you really lead them, they will follow.