Courageous Leadership

All police know what courage is on the street — but what is courage in the chief’s office?

I have some ideas:

COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP IS:

1. Taking the issue of deadly force to the officers AND the community for discussion and decision.

2. Strongly stating the central value of your department is protection of life — the lives of both officers and citizens.

3. Requiring your officers to be both community workers and protectors of our Constitution.

4. Expecting your trainers will develop “less-than-deadly tactics” to respond and contain persons (often emotionally disturbed or mentally ill) who are armed with edged or blunt weapons.

5. Requiring every officer to be well-trained and able to respond to citizens with mental illnesses.

6. Training and leading your officers to be primarily guardians with a warrior backup.

7. Assuring your officers it is okay to slow down dangerous encounters. Stress that time is most always on their side and that they do not have to always “stand their ground.”

8. Demanding your officers treat EVERYONE with respect and fairness and expecting that goes the same for you and other leaders within departmental ranks (Procedural Justice).

9. Raising entry standards and salaries to attract and hire more college graduates and men and women of color and set unwavering goals to do that (at least 20% female officers and officers of color reflect their percentage in the community at large.)

10. Requiring your training officers to teach in a respectful adult-oriented atmosphere.

11. Approaching public protest as a community’s civil right and begin always with negotiation and a “soft” approach.

12. Reminding both officers and community members that a police chief wears “two hats:” the “top cop” AND the community’s police chief — understand that sometime those two roles clash and when that happens community interests will prevail.

13. Requiring the principles of “peer intervention” to be a necessary requirement and expectation for being a member of the police department.

14. Always being honest, open, and accountable — especially in times of crisis.

15. Gathering necessary operational data: how persons arrested or otherwise contacted by police are treated. Evaluate those contacts and report progress in both the effectiveness of police operations and building trust in the community.

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Moving these issues and challenges forward will take a particular type of police leader: one who is mature, well-educated, and tactically proficient; a leader who casts a positive vision for the future of policing in America.

A leader who is courageous!