Courageous Leadership

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

I have some ideas:


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.


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!


  1. How about having the courage to stand up to wealthy and business leaders who break the law?

    How about having the courage and DEMANDING the cops to treat white collar, corporate crime the same way that police treated street crimes?

    How having the couraged DEMAND that the cops treated the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights as something to be respected and sacred? Our Founding Fathers did not create those two documents for no reason.

    “7. Assuring your officers it is permissible 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.” (Stress again that police are in the business of saving and protecting lives.)”

    You can also stress that police are also saving and protecting their own lives when they are slowing down the dangerous encounters. You also need to stress that even though cops need to protect their lives, they also must be prepared to pay the price of laying down their own lives.


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