Courage to Work Together?


Courage in policing is sometimes more than going down a dark alley looking for a prowler. Sometimes it has to do with leadership — leadership at the very top.

One of the ways leaders show courage is to starting practicing the “Twelve Principles of Quality Leadership.” When leaders embrace the new leadership they quickly learn that being open, listening to the men and women they lead, and putting into practice the good ideas they can generate cannot be done without courage.

In Madison, I put the union president on my management team in the 1980s. The mayor thought I was nuts. Yet it paid off and that tradition still holds in Madison almost 40 years later!

When I did this it was a time of great acrimony between the union and me and my command staff. By agreeing to work together, we reduced grievances and brought harmony, efficiency, and excellence into our workplace.


  • 1981 — 5
  • 1982 — 8
  • 1983 — 12
  • 1984 — 9
  • 1985 — 15
  • 1986 — 9
  • 1987 — 9
  • 1988 — 7
  • 1990 — 7
  • 1991 — 6
  • 1992 — 3
  • 1993  — 3

Ten years ago, Madison Capt. Mike Masterson was appointed chief of police in Boise, Ida. Learning from his experience in Madison, he incorporated Quality Leadership in tHe department and put the union president on his management team. Look what happened.


  • 1993 – (5) filed with (5) going to a hearing.
  • 1994 – (13) filed with (7) going to a hearing.
  • 1995 – (5) filed with (3) going to a hearing.
  • 1996 – (9) filed with (4) going to a hearing.
  • 1997 – (43) filed with (11) going to a hearing.
  • 1998 – (25) filed with (16) going to a hearing.
  • 1999 – (14) filed with (2) going to a hearing.
  • 2000 – (14) filed with (5) going to a hearing
  • 2001 – (13) filed with (5) going to a hearing.
  • 2002 – (19) filed with (10) going to a hearing.
  • 2003 – (4) filed with (3) going to a hearing.
  • 2004 – (12) filed with (5) going to a hearing.
  • 2005 – (16) filed with (5) going to a hearing.


  • 2006 – (5) filed with (2) going to a hearing.
  • 2007 – (1) filed with (0) going to a hearing.
  • 2008 – (6) filed with (2) going to a hearing.
  • 2009 – (4) filed with (2) going to a hearing.
  • 2010 – (2) filed with (0) going to a hearing.
  • 2011 – (0) filed.
  • 2012 – (3) filed with (1) going to a hearing. (city prevailed on a termination)
  • 2013 – (1) filed with (0) going to a hearing.
  • 2014 – (1) filed with (0) going to a hearing.

When we are serious about leadership and been an effective leader we will deeply and generously listen to those whom we are privileged to lead. What better way than this to fully collaborate?

Here’s what we wrote in The New Quality Leadership Workbook about our experience in Madison:

Q. What did the police officers association (union) think of [being part of the department management team]?

“The department encourages any department interested in improvement to sincerely talk with their union leadership. In the past, police managers and union leaders have tended to be confrontational in their relationships. Madison police leaders worked with the police union on mutual goals and a commitment to work out problems inside the department as much as possible (which led to a significant reduction of time and energy consuming formal grievances). Madison found that a true and authentic effort toward working together benefits everyone.” 

When you don’t spend all your time fighting among one another and, instead, commit to working together, you’d be surprised at how much you can improve things!

Leaders, do you have the courage to do this?




  1. It may drive your Labor Relations Director a little crazy but having the Union perspective on the front end makes not only for labor harmony, but a broader perspective on issues in general.


  2. In Germany, they have labor unions on the Board of Directors at the German corporations. If the Germans can do it, so can we in both the private and public sectors.


  3. It is ironic that police management and police unions are at each other throats considering the fact that the police is one of the few occupations where rank and file can rise into management positions compare to other careers where rank and file like in the steel industry, railroad industry, etc., do not have the opportunity to became presidents of their companies.

    Edward Demning point out how American management is a disease that should not be export to the rest of the world and police is an excellent example. I know people who once they become supervisors and managements in the various law enforcement agencies, they turn against unions and their rank and file members considering the fact that they were once rank and file themselves. Nice, safe management desk jobs change people real fast in law enforcement and many of them spend their time screwing over the rank and file, looking for that next promotion, and looking for a second career in law enforcement once they retire from the current law enforcement job. I just wish they would take the pension and retired particularly when they have not done a thing to make their own organizations better.

    Japanese workers don’t sit on the Board of Directors, but at least the Japanese CEOs work with them when it comes to making their work place and their products better.


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