Policing has Changed
The implementation of AB 109, Prop 47, and Prop 57 has caused sever challenges to our communities. The early release of prisoners equals more felons living among us. The decriminalization of narcotics has drastically added to the homeless problem and the change in theft laws has increased property crimes. The politicization of elected District Attorneys has caused inconsistency in the enforcement of laws. As the scope of the work has evolved, departments have transformed through training, technology, and the re-focus on community engagement.
The Police Officer has Changed
The newest generation of police officers vary from the more experienced officers in several ways. Given the extreme physical and mental demands of the job, it is unlikely they will work to age 57 and they are more likely to transfer agencies throughout their careers. The youngest generation generally cares more about work life balance than overtime pay. They want to know the “Why” behind policies and decisions and are motivated by validation. They began their career in an era of staggering suicide rates in the law enforcement profession.
Command Staff will Change
As a former prosecutor and managing attorney, I sometimes found myself fighting the waves of change. When I stopped resisting the transformations, I became a more resilient leader. As a first responder communications coach for the past decade, I have seen many command staff adapt their leadership skills to meet the newest challenges. Copying the management styles of those that came before us will no longer be effective. Successful leaders apply these principles:
1.THE PURPOSE HASN’T CHANGED: This is a profession that cares deeply about the work and mission of saving lives and keeping the community safe. The strongest leaders tap into this common belief in the work and consistently connect their teams to that purpose.
2.BEYOND “BECAUSE I TOLD YOU SO”: Sometimes, leaders will say to their troops, “Because the brass said so,” when implementing new policies. This practice is extremely toxic for the organization and builds distrust. Excellent Sgts and Lts. address their team’s desire to understand the reasoning behind their work and take personal ownership in the new policies.
3.PROTECTING MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELLNESS: Investing in employees mental health, wellness, and long-term career will show them that they are valued. The most effective leaders remind their team that they have a genuine concern for them as people.
4.PAY WITH PRAISE: People don’t leave departments because of pay or benefits. Studies show that organizations retain people when they feel valued and accepted by their supervisors. The strongest leaders consistently remind their employee that they are valued.
5.HEALTHY COMMAND STAFF COMMUNICATION: Nothing causes stress to employees more than fighting amongst their leaders. When “camps” or “silos” are formed, the work environment becomes toxic. The healthiest organizations have leaders that deliver consistent messages, speak highly of each other, and resolve conflict privately.