Stripes Rectange

TBLL: Table of Contents

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership and culture development tactics. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help. Click on any of the titles to be taken directly to that particular blog.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. You can follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership or check us out on Facebook.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and, as always, LEAD ON!

06/25/14              Welcome to Thin Blue Line of Leadership

06/25/14              Thin Blue Line of Leadership Logo Explanation

06/29/14              Law Enforcement Lingo 101

07/10/14              Defining the Thin Blue Line Leader

07/17/14              Power, Passion, People, and Production

07/24/14              14 Ways to Create a Positive Squad Culture

08/07/14              3 Keys to Squad Expectation Success

08/14/14              Saving the World One Call at a Time

08/27/14             6 Ways to Positively Influence Officer Behavior

09/04/14             The 3 Accountability Relationships in Law Enforcement

09/30/14             Welcome to the Squad: New Officer Checklist

10/23/14              5 Basic Leadership Lessons

11/23/14               Law Enforcement Recognition Idea

12/17/14               Intentional Culture

01/07/15              Confusion of Sacrifice

01/21/15               Don’t Get Captured

02/09/15             Change and Reputation

02/19/15              Insubordination?

03/25/15              The 10 Law Enforcement Leadership Commandments

04/07/15              A Law Enforcement Leadership Reward

04/14/15              Good to Great: A Law Enforcement Leader’s Viewpoint

05/18/15              BRIEFING IDEA: What makes a great beat cop?

06/02/15             Shifting Gears in Policing

06/23/15              4 Keys to Building Influence

07/15/15              5 Killers of Positive Culture

07/23/15              10 Keys to a Successful Oral Board

08/03/15              Creating “Wow” Moments in Policing

08/10/15              5 Steps to Develop Squad Culture

09/23/15              7 Core Values for Building a Team – Part 1

09/29/15              7 Core Values for Building a Team – Part 2

01/19/16               Transactional vs. Relational Policing

02/16/16               3 Components to Law Enforcement Leadership

02/29/16              HELP WANTED: Police Officers

03/16/16               Culture in Just 4 Words

03/29/16               A Simple Gesture

04/27/16               Trickle-Down Leadership

05/11/16                 10 Steps to Teaching Leadership in Law Enforcement – Part 1

05/25/16                10 Steps to Teaching Leadership in Law Enforcement – Part 2

06/08/16                3 Signs of a Miserable Law Enforcement Job

07/12/16                 TBLL Leadership Reading List

10/26/16                 10 Tips for New Sergeants

11/01/16                  PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Loop

11/16/16                  The 3 PRIDE Loops

11/30/16                  Leading with P-R-I-D-E

12/07/16                  Predictive Policing

01/09/17                 Briefing with Purpose

1

Briefing with Purpose

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” ~ Colin Powell
Success is absolutely about preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. As a leader of people, you have taken on the challenge of doing everything within your power to make your people successful. One of the best places to start doing that with your officers is in the briefing room. In law enforcement, the time that you get to spend with your entire squad together is extremely limited; therefore, it is up to you to make the most of it.

In my department, each patrol shift starts with a 30 minute briefing conducted by the squad sergeant. This is the only time that the squad has the opportunity to be together in same place at the same time without the next call for service pulling us away. (Most of the time.) There are many purposeful activities that can fill this time, but unfortunately they often just turn into “bull sessions” with no real purpose and become a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place to have unplanned, open discussions in briefing so long as there is a purpose to it and it is not just a default due to a lack of planning on the part of the supervisor.

Prior to being a police officer, I was a math teacher for just shy of 7 years. I was educated on the importance of lesson planning, building themes, identifying “teachable” moments, and organizing curriculum. When you walk into a classroom of 30+ teenagers every day, you quickly come to understand how important organization is to facilitating effective learning. When I promoted to sergeant, these same lessons came flooding back to me and I found ways to modify the concepts to work within the given 30 minute briefing times I had.

As a patrol sergeant, I work four 10 hour shifts a week. I try to stay at least one week ahead with whatever I am planning for briefing training so I have some idea of where I am going and have time to gather resources or create them. With that being said, it is vital to not be overly invested in the briefing plan because things occasionally come up that may take precedent; such as a major call for service that needs to be discussed that offers some “teachable” moments. Below is an example of the form I used to plan my briefings . . .

lesson

Here was the thinking behind how my weekly planning was organized. DAY 1 was typically reserved for administrative topics. All of the emails, criminal info bulletins, policy updates, and more that needed to be to be shared with the whole squad were saved over the weekend for this day. The last thing I ever wanted was for administrative stuff to take over all of my briefings. I also found that the first day back to work for the week was usually not the best day for conducting briefing training. Once the admin stuff was out of the way, then I would end the briefing by recognizing some of the good work from the week before to start us off positively. This recognition was with the express intent of wanting to see those specific actions, attitudes, or efforts repeated by the squad.

DAY 2 and DAY 3 were reserved for Briefing Training. These could include any number of topics and may involve bringing in a guest speaker from another part of the department, using a short PowerPoint, leading a discussion on our successes/failures from a call, conducting a demonstration, putting together a scenario, watching a police-related video then discussing how it relates to our policies/practices/state laws, etc. There are so many great topics and activities related to our profession that can fit into a 30 minute time period to instigate learning and/or create culture. Ultimately, when planning briefing training, we are not trying to certify officers in anything, just share information so we are all on the same page.

DAY 4 was usually more relaxed. I would lead a discussion called “What did you learn?” in which each member of the squad would talk about one thing they learned or did differently this week on a call and if it was or was not successful. Finally, I would always end the last briefing of the week by recognizing some more of the fine work that had been done by my officers that supported our positive squad culture. There would also be an opportunity for them to recognize each other for things I may not have seen.

At the bottom of the weekly plan was a list of all of my officers. This gave me the ability to know who was or was not in briefing on a given day so either myself or an informal leader on the squad could follow up with them later regarding what we covered. As mentioned above, the power of having briefings with purpose comes from everyone being on the same page. Without this follow-up, you fall short on one of the best parts of having organized briefing plans.

With purpose, there is power. Time with the entire squad together allows a leader to communicate specific messages that puts everyone on the same page. This creates opportunities to share the mission, build squad culture, recognize good work, educate on policy/legal updates, discuss success/failures, and much more. Having these types of purposeful briefings are especially beneficial for newer officers, but also serve the purpose of being a reminder to the more senior officers about what is important.

I challenge you to find the time and make the effort to plan briefings with purpose and see the many positive benefits that come from it.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

1

Predictive Policing

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”   ~ Henry Ford

 

Within the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model, the first step to making sound decisions, especially in moments of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and anxiety), is to Predict. Continuously predicting potential outcomes, solutions, reactions, perceptions, importance, and viability of decisions is how a person starts down one decision-making path or another. Because of this, predicting is a vital cog in the machine that is the human brain and it’s processing of stimulus when trying to make decisions. Unfortunately, the overall importance of predictive policing, in these terms, is rarely recognized properly in law enforcement discussions, debriefs, or trainings.

Below are 5 points to consider regarding the power and significance of predicting in law enforcement decision-making along with specific law enforcement examples . . .

  1. As mentioned earlier, predicting starts the decision-maker down a path based upon the goal the decision-maker wishes to accomplish. How an officer believes their initial decision will work out in relation to the goal guides them through their next several decisions until something in the situation changes. Take the act of deciding what to eat for breakfast. That one decision begins an entire path of decisions and corresponding actions that all started with a simple prediction about what would taste good for breakfast.

LE EXAMPLE: When an officer gets in their patrol car and drives away from the station, there are predictions made by the officer to decide where to patrol when not assigned to a specific call. Does the officer choose the busiest area where they are most likely to locate criminal activity or do they choose the slowest area where they are least likely to locate criminal activity? The officer is predicting criminal activity and that prediction starts them down a path for the entire shift. Make enough of these types of predictions one way or the other and suddenly the officer has started down a path for their entire career. They have created a reputation. Are they a go-getter or a member of the R.O.D. (Retired on Duty) Squad? Law enforcement leaders must assist officers in seeing beyond just what is in front of them and learn to think 2, 3, or even 4 steps down the road of their careers.

  1. Accurate predicting of possible outcomes shortens reaction time. When entering into any situation, predicting narrows the list of possibilities that may be faced which decreases an officer’s reaction time to whatever comes next. When a quarterback walks up behind his offensive line and surveys the defense, he is narrowing down the type of defense he is about to face once the ball is hiked. He will put receivers into motion, locate the middle linebacker, and look for any sign that may give away a possible blitz. If the quarterback’s prediction is correct, then his reaction time will be reduced which increases the likelihood of completing the play successfully. Hence the reason the best quarterbacks in the NFL practically live in the film room when they are not on the field. More experience equals better predictions.

LE EXAMPLE: Predicting  possible outcomes that could occur when conducting a traffic stop reduces an officer’s reaction time to how the situation actually plays out once the emergency lights are activated. Based upon how humans respond to high levels of stress, there are three options that can manifest themselves to varying degrees – freeze, fight, or flight. Based on this, an officer should predict that the driver could pull over normally to submit to the stop, pull over to commence an attack, or flee in the vehicle. Once all of those options are considered, then the officer’s reaction time to respond to the driver’s actions will be quicker. Accurate predicting greatly increases officer safety in any situation because law enforcement is always reacting to the actions of others. If action is always faster than reaction, then law enforcement officers must do everything possible to reduce their reaction times. It starts with predicting. Law enforcement leaders can support this type of predictive thinking by playing the “what if” game with their officers and table-topping scenarios with varying circumstances to cover a broad spectrum of predictions.

  1. Predicting and weighing both sides of an issue is another form of predicting that occurs before nearly every decision. The greater the decision, the more time that should be spent predicting possible pro’s and con’s for comparison. The key is to recognize that pro’s and con’s are just predictions and not reality; at least not yet. They must be weighted based upon their reasonableness of occurring which leads to more predicting.

LE EXAMPLE: Predicting and weighing both sides of an issue can be exemplified in making the decision to go for a promotion or not. This is a huge decision that undoubtedly requires great consideration of all the possible good and bad that could come with it. A thorough comparison of possible outcomes, leads to making a better overall decision. Law enforcement leaders can help their officers with making predictions about major decisions like this by being accessible to their officers as a person, not just a boss. Be the kind of leader that is available as a mentor and willing to share thoughts on the topic at hand. When going into the unknown, everyone values the experience of someone who has been there and done that because it assists with making their predictions more accurate.

  1. Predicting what other people will think about a decision also greatly influences our decisions. Humans have a tribe mentality because, back in the day, tribes were a way to keep us safe from danger. Therefore, humans are greatly concerned with what others may think of their decisions. The underlying fear is that if other members of the group do not agree with my decision, then I may be shunned by the group which inherently makes me isolated and unsafe. As kids, everyone remembers being told that their decisions should not be based upon what others think, but let’s be realistic. Every decision ever made, at least to some degree, includes predicting what someone else will think about it – boss, fellow officers, friends, mother, wife, etc. As kids it was called peer pressure and it still exists as adults.

LE EXAMPLE: This type of predicting can best be exemplified through a squad culture example. If a new officer gets assigned to a squad where the entire squad always talks in briefing about misdemeanor crimes being a waste of time and that felony crimes are the only “real” crime, then that officer is going to be influenced into minimizing or ignoring misdemeanor crimes and only look for felonies. While felonies encompass the most serious crimes, there are important aspects to the job of a patrol officer that require investigating and arresting for misdemeanor crimes. But because this new officer does not want to be risk being shunned by those in his “tribe,” he may neglect misdemeanors even if he personally does not believe the same thing. This is the power of predicting and why law enforcement leaders must be extremely careful with the culture they create and/or condone within their squads. Everyone reading this should be able to recall any number of bad law enforcement cultures that have made it into the news at one time or another. Predicting social isolation by the “tribe” is what allowed those bad cultures to continue to exist as long as they did instead of someone stepping up to stop them.

  1. Predicting sets a tone. If after receiving the initial information regarding a situation an officer’s first thought is “this is going to suck,” then a negative tone has been set. The reverse is also true. If after receiving the initial information regarding a situation an officer’s first thought is “this is going to be awesome” or “I can handle this” then a positive tone has been set. This is such a powerful example of predicting because tone casts a shadow over everything that follows it. This is the definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy and it is all based on predictions.

LE EXAMPLE: When an officer goes to training there will be immediate predictions made. Either this training is going to suck or this training is going to be awesome. How do you think it ends up? The vast majority of the time it will end exactly as it was initially predicted no matter how good or bad the training really was. If the officer’s mind was changed from one way to the other, how much work did that take to overcome the prediction? A lot. This is the power of the Predict Phase and how it can set a tone. This is the primary reason law enforcement leaders must be aware of the tone they set in briefing because soon afterwards their officers will be hitting the road making situational predictions that originate from either the positive or negative tone set by the leader. Leaders must also help officers recognize that having control of their actions, attitude, and effort empowers them and alleviates negative victim thinking which gets replaced by a powerful sense of positive self-control. This line of thinking sets a positive tone for even the most challenging of circumstances.

To support and develop sound decision-making, law enforcement leaders must get into the habit of having conversations with their officers regarding decision-making that goes all the way back at the Predict Phase. This can be done by asking questions such as . . .

“What did you think this incident was on your way there?”

“How did you think they would respond to that action?”

“What was your intent before you did that?”

“How did you prioritize your response?”

By asking these types of questions, law enforcement leaders can ascertain who is predicting and who is not. What they will discover is that officers that get the most complaints, violate policies/procedures routinely, and negatively impact the team usually do little, if any, predicting. On the other hand, officers that are great beat cops, effective communicators, tactically sound, and positively impact the team in multiple ways do an excellent job of predicting.

If a law enforcement leader want good decision-makers, then they must teach, share, and discuss predictive policing. Every decision starts with Predict.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

1a

Leading with P-R-I-D-E

“Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.”  ~ John Maxwell

The most fundamental building block of policing is decision-making.

  • Make contact or leave the person alone?
  • Ask or command?
  • Search or don’t search?
  • Arrest or don’t arrest?
  • Shoot or don’t shoot?

These are just a few examples of major decisions made by officers every day regarding issues of communication, search/seizure, arrest authority, and use of force. These decisions, along with an insane amount of lesser ones, get them through each shift – most of the time good, sometimes not so good dependent upon their decision-making. Law enforcement leaders must understand how they can influence officer decision-making because safety, public trust, and lives are on the line. To put it bluntly, they must learn to lead with P-R-I-D-E.

Policing is a very complicated profession and inevitably mistakes are going to happen. Therefore, law enforcement leaders must proactively discuss decision-making with their officers in terms of the process, not just in terms of right or wrong after the fact. While officers makes their own individual decisions, it is the leader that creates the environment they work in. That environment can either nurture or devastate good decision-making.

pride

Part of the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model is a large blue circle with the following words written around it: Culture, Mission, Goals, and Why. This is the Leadership Circle. All decisions are influenced by this circle because culture, mission, goals, and why create the lens through which officers view their policing world.

If there is a squad of lazy, negative officers that are constantly getting into trouble, it is absolutely related to the environment of culture, mission, goals, and why allowed to exist by their “leader.” If there is a squad of hard working, positive officers that are constantly being recognized for their excellent work, it is related to the environment of culture, mission, goals, and why created by their leader.

CULTURE: Culture is simply defined as the prevailing actions and attitudes of a group over time. The leader of a group must play a significant role in setting the culture. The key to setting a culture is that the leader knows what they want their culture to be. Once the desired culture is defined, then the leader must identify ways to reward actions and attitudes that promote that culture. If a leader fails to define and implement their desired culture, then another one will form and the leader is no longer leading. For more on culture development, see our blog “Culture in Just 4 Words.”

MISSION: Mission starts with the department’s mission statement which is usually posted on a wall somewhere. Leaders must find ways to take the words off of the page and make them part of the culture as defined above. On a smaller scale, each call for service officers respond to has its own more specific mission. Identifying the purpose of a mission is a must for operational success. Many times, the mission can be defined by the role(s) that must be played by the officer in order to achieve a successful outcome. Does this call need a guardian, a warrior, a caretaker, a social worker, or an enforcer? Understanding large scale and small scale missions is important to good decision-making because mission sets the vision. For more on mission, see our blog “Shifting Gears in Policing.”

GOALS: Goals can exist on multiple levels; for example, department goals and personal goals. Many departments set goals for their officers with the intention of creating a method for tracking their officers’ activity or productivity. Where many departments fail with goal setting is that they set arbitrary goals that are not tied to their mission. In other words, there is no understanding as to why the goals exists or the purpose they serve. Department goals must be tightly correlated to the department mission to give them meaning to the officers and to provide meaningful information to upper staff. Personal goals should be set by the officers and related to their desired career path. Their career path sets a long-term vision which enables the officer, hopefully with the assistance of their leader, to determine specific goals that can be worked on each shift. Meeting incremental personal goals are the building blocks to an officer getting where they eventually want to go within the department. Leaders should put this into perspective for their officers so they understand that each shift is essentially part of the interview for their job of the future.

WHY: No one goes into law enforcement because they are going to get rich or be famous. Deep down there is something special in each person that decides to pin on a badge that drives them to run towards conflict, put their lives on the line, and serve a community. Whatever the reason, that is their personal why. The why fuels the fire to continue working when times get hard and empowers officers to go above and beyond when those opportunities exist. Law enforcement leaders must help officers identify their why, be able to articulate it, and help them hold tight to it for the entirety of their career.  For more on why, see our blog “HELP WANTED: Police Officers.”

When a person chooses to promote within a law enforcement organization, they essentially have raised their hand and said, “I’m willing to lead.” It is not permission to do less, but a mandate to do more. Leading takes effort. Leading takes skill. Leading takes caring. Leading takes passion. To build influence in officer decision-making, those that promote must stand up and lead. They must create environments that focus on culture, mission, goals, and why. The leaders that take the time and make the effort to create these positive environments will be rewarded by the outcomes seen in their officers’ decision-making and they will spend less time running around putting out fires created by a bad environment.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

railroad-decisions

The 3 PRIDE Loops

General George S. Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” He recognized that the most important factor to making a decision is time. How much time is available before the circumstances will change for the worse? One second, one minute, one hour, one day, or one week? General Patton knew that there was not much time in war before decisions had to be made, but when not in the fog of war, sometimes time is on your side and sometimes it is not.

pride

In developing the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model, the exact same constraints regarding time were evident. Hence, the React Phase became the most critical component of the entire model because good decision-making hinges on a person’s ability to quickly assess, on limited information, if a significant decision must be made and, if so, how much time is available to make it in?

Within the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model are 3 distinctive loops. Each of these loops serves a specific purpose in the process of making safe, sound decisions. This blog is going to reference the 3 loops within the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model in terms of how they apply to a police officer’s decision-making. These loops could just as easily be applied to any other profession which requires making decisions during moments of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and anxiety) where time is the critical factor.

Let’s explore these 3 loops . . .

Predict-React-Evaluate (P-R-E) Loop: This is the smallest of the loops, but one of the most vital when it comes to keeping officers safe. Predict-React-Evaluate is not used for making decisions of significance, but it does serve the purpose of maintaining a state of situational awareness. The P-R-E Loop is a continuously running loop within an officer’s mind which keeps him or her aware of their current circumstances and is searching for the next opportunity to make a decision of significance.

In an article shared recently by Patrick Van Horne, co-author of “Left of Bang”, Dr. Mica R. Endsley defined situational awareness with three levels: Level 1: Perception of Elements in Current Situation, Level 2: Comprehension of Current Situation, and Level 3: Projection of Future Status. In essence, the P-R-E Loop includes the same levels, but in a slightly different order of occurrence. (Towards a Theory of Situational Awareness in Dynamic Systems; Human Factors; 1995)

To keep an officer from being behind the curve, Predict requires the officer to consider possible circumstances, threats, outcomes, and solutions that may be relevant to the situation at hand. As the officer continues into the situation, they must React by receiving feedback from the actual circumstances they encounter which either confirms or negates their predictions. It also offers updated information, primarily sensory in nature, to add to their next P-R-E Loop. If there is no need for a decision of significance, then they proceed to Evaluate the differences between the Predict/React Phases and return to Predict what may come next. This continual loop of Predict-React-Evaluate provides the officer with a state of situational awareness.

The best of the best officers can do this continually throughout a shift without giving it a second thought. It is the P-R-E Loop that creates situational awareness and leads to good officer safety. On the other hand, when the P-R-E Loop is not being used continuously, that is when officers are complacent and apt to find themselves in ill-advised situations.

Just a Few Examples:

  • Driving in traffic making observations of possible traffic violations.
  • Approaching a call for service location and exiting the patrol vehicle.
  • On a foot patrol in a crowded public area.
  • Many, many more.

Predict-React-Investigate-Decide-Evaluate (P-R-I-D-E) Loop: The largest loop of the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model encompasses all 5 phases of the adaptive decision-making model. The key factor in utilizing the P-R-I-D-E Loop is that the officer recognizes that time is on their side. There is time to gather new information regarding the decision at hand before needing to make a decision. Because there is more time available and additional information can be gathered, this loop should generate the most developed and effective decisions, but at the cost of time.

The first two steps remain the same, Predict and then React. When recognized in the React Phase that time is available, the officer can investigate the situation further to uncover previously unknown details. Invesitgate could include determining the who, what, when, where, how, and why of the incident. If an officer finds that they are in an unfamiliar situation, they also have time to gather new information from department policies/procedures, state legal statutes, a trusted source for advice, or any other resource that may have relevant information regarding the circumstances. There must also be a level of understanding that the officer will never be able to gather all possible information, but they must try to accumulate as much as they can in the time they have available to them. Once all the new information regarding the situation is brought into consideration, the mind very quickly begins to apply its prioritized knowledge filters while beginning to formulate a decision. As all relevant experience, skill, and knowledge is applied to the situation, then a decision will be forth coming. Upon reaching Decide, deliberate action must be taking to put the decision into motion. As with all of the loops, the final step is to Evaluate the decision and then continue into the next loop.

Just a Few Examples:

  • Making the determination if a crime has or has not been committed during a delayed report call.
  • Making an arrest decision while on a domestic dispute call.
  • Conducting a collision investigation and deciding which driver gets the citation.
  • While part of a contact team with no stimulus present to push the need for entry.
  • A detective using multiple P-R-I-D-E Loops to determine the best course of action for an investigation.

Predict-React-Decide-Evaluate (P-R-D-E) Loop: The P-R-D-E Loop is used to make decisions in the highest stress, most time critical moments. In this loop, an officer is primarily relying on their previous experience to formulate their decisions. There is just not enough time to use a skill that has not been fully developed or academic knowledge that has never been applied to a real situation.  It is within this loop that muscle memory, recognition-primed decision-making, or statements like “my training just kicked in” are used to describe how these types of decisions are formulated. More than anything, human beings trust their prior experience and in these types of situations that is true ten-fold.

The steps of Predict and React occur as they normally would; the React Phase recognizes the situation for what it is and notes that a decision must be made quickly. It must be accepted that because these are high stress moments, incomplete or poor predictions and reactions can occur if training to handle high stress moments has not occurred. Due to the limitation of time, the Investigate Phase is skipped because Decide needs to occur as soon as possible and it must be with the information present. Upon making the decision and the necessary deliberate action occurring, the Evaluate Phase becomes an extremely vital component to a successful P-R-D-E Loop. Rarely will a single decision bring an end to a high VUCA situation. Evaluation of the decision must occur promptly because most likely another critical decision is probably about to be needed.

Just a Few Examples:

  • Shoot or don’t shoot situations.
  • Clearing an intersection while driving Code 3 to a call.
  • Making entry as part of a crisis team.
  • Choosing the appropriate level of force to use during a situation.
  • Negotiating with a suicidal subject to not take their life.
  • Immediately starting C-C-C on a subject that is not breathing.

While each of the loops within the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model have been written about in isolation, it is importance to recognize that in reality these loops are occurring simultaneously at many different levels. A single call for service could have hundreds of significant decision loops and thousands of smaller less significant decision loops. It is for this reason that officers that are known to be good decision-makers, especially under stress, are so valued in the law enforcement profession.

Now that the individual components and the loops of the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model have been defined, in the next blog we will discuss how law enforcement leaders can best use this information with their officers. No matter the department, developing sound decision-makers is vital to leading an organization into 21st century policing.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

title

PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model

For years, police training has made the mistake of trying to simplify policing by making rigid “if/then” or numerically sequenced “police by numbers” policies. All this has done is create ever-growing books of police operation orders that no one could ever memorize completely. While well intentioned, this type of training ultimately results in developing officers that struggle processing information or handling situations that do not meet the “if/then” policies they were taught. This impedes an officer’s decision-making and puts them at greater risk of making poor decisions which could result in rights violations, getting injured, or possibly killed.

With the current climate surrounding policing, we cannot afford to have officers routinely making poor decisions. We, as supervisors of police officers, also do not want to see our men and women in uniform injured, killed, violate rights, or become the next “what not to do in policing” YouTube sensation. Therefore, it is vital that we recognize the best way to assist our officers is to provide training, both officially at in-service trainings and unofficially in the briefing room, that focuses on decision-making. To be more specific, we need to focus on adaptive decision-making that trains officers to creatively work their way through problems using available information and knowledge base prioritization to come to decisions that are safe, effective, within policy, within the law, and ethically right.

Over the years working with my squads, I developed the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model. I have trained every one of my officers in this model and have seen it work on every type of call imaginable. Whether it is a traffic stop, burglary report, subject with a weapon, tactical barricade situation, or a collision scene; this model teaches officers to use their knowledge, experience, and skills to adapt and overcome the problems they face from shift to shift.

pride

PREDICT: The PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model starts with predicting what the possible outcomes of a given situation may be or playing the “what if” game, as some like to call it. The better an officer is at visualizing possible outcomes and solutions, the better the concluding decision will be. The amount of prior experience and training an officer has directly correlates to the accuracy of the officer’s predictions regarding what could be coming. Another aspect of predicting is considering the initial role or mindset that would be best suited for the situation – warrior, guardian, enforcer, caregiver, medic, tactician, etc. The major benefit of predicting, especially accurate predictions, is that it lessens both the stress level and the initial reaction time for getting to a decision.

REACT: The next step in the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to React. The officer must react to the reality of the situation they are now presented with in front of them. Does it confirm their prediction or is there new information or situational feedback to update the prediction with? React is based upon human instincts of fight/flight and self-preservation. Officer safety considerations must be part of the initial read of the situation. This step is not solely selfish in nature; it is also goal-oriented based upon the culture and mission of the role the officer is in. The primary questions being answered in this step are . . . Do I need to make a significant decision, do I have time to think, or do I need to make an immediate decision? The amount of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and anxiety) present in the situation will lead the officer to the appropriate next step.

* If no significant decision needs to be made, proceed to evaluate and continue the situational awareness loop.

* If there is time to think and gather more information, proceed to Investigate.

* If there is NO time to think and gather more information, proceed to Decide.

INVESTIGATE: When there is time to think and gather more information, the next step in the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to Investigate. Time to think does not necessarily mean that the danger of a situation is not still real and present, but it means that the officer has reached a point where they can gather new information such as the who, what, when, where, and why of the situation from various sources. It is also the time when an officer that is unfamiliar with this type of situation, can gather relevant information from either their Department Field Orders, State Legal Statutes, or the experience of a trusted source.

filter

In the transition between React and Decide, the specific circumstance of the incident at hand must pass through the officer’s prioritized knowledge filters. As the information flows through the knowledge filters, relevant knowledge gets applied. The filters of a police officer should include their organizational culture, department mission, experience, skills, and knowledge.  The organizational culture and department mission create a lens that should shadow all decisions. This is the reason law enforcement leaders cannot take organizational culture and mission for granted; significant resources, time, and effort should be dedicate to these areas throughout a department. Experience, knowledge, and skills are all obtained through classroom, reality-based, and on-the-street training. Once all applicable knowledge and experience has been applied to the circumstances of the incident, then a decision can be made.

DECIDE: The next step in the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to Decide. When making the final decision, the phrase “take deliberate action” best describes what should be expected of an officer. Deliberate action means that the officer makes the decision and can then articulate their reasoning, intent, and expected outcome(s) clearly and effectively. In the law enforcement world, this usually comes out in the form of a report about the incident that highlights major decision-making points; for example, why force was used or why an arrest was made. Deliberate action also implies that an officer is confident in their decision and proceeded forward without hesitation. Certainty in a decision is absolutely dependent upon the experience, skills, and knowledge the officer brought into the situation to begin with. As the great Peyton Manning once said, “Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you are doing.”

EVALUATE: The final step in the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to Evaluate. Evaluation of decisions is critical to the continuation of the adaptive decision-making loop. Was the last decision a success or was it a failure? Both successes and failures lead to learning and add experience which will be available for the officer to draw from in the next revolution of the adaptive decision-making loop. Once an incident is completed and there are no more decisions to be made regarding its outcome, the final part of the Evaluate step is to share what was learned with others. When decision-making processes are shared with others, additional information is gained from their feedback and then added to the officer’s knowledge filters that will be available the next time a similar incident occurs. It also builds up the other officer’s knowledge filters, as well. In turn, both officers are better for discussing the process for formulating the decision(s) that handled the incident.

The PRIDE Decision-Making Model applies to making decisions on both large and small scales. The larger the scale, the more cycles of the loop that will need to be completed before a final outcome can be reached. When steps in the loop are skipped, used out of order, or done in a half-assed manner; that is when no or poor decisions are made.

The applications of the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model are endless, but its most direct application would be to use it as the basis of a police department’s training program. Whether training in firearms, defensive tactics, emergency driving, report writing, courtroom testimony, tactical operations, handling calls for service, or any other topic, relating it to the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model will make for better learning outcomes than any rigid “if/then” or numerically sequenced “police by numbers” policies.

Try the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model out for yourself. Imagine that you received a call for service of a burglary alarm at a residence. Walk yourself through all the decisions that must be made just to handle a simple call like this to test its application.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

sgttraining

10 Tips for New Sergeants

For the last 2 years, I have been a Field Training Sergeant. It is a pleasure knowing that I am having an impact on the future of my police department by training these new leaders. I see this responsibility as a vital one because if I do not do a good job, I am not just affecting that new sergeant, but every officer that serves on his or her squad.

Just so we are on the same page, here is how my department handles sergeant training. Sergeant field training is a 5 week process – 2 weeks with one training sergeant, 2 weeks with a different training sergeant, and then one final week back with the first training sergeant. At the end of each shift, the Field Training Sergeant completes a daily activity report that summarizes and scores everything the prospective new sergeant did throughout that shift. While writing these daily activity reports, I have noticed that there are certain bits of advice that I seem to be repeatedly writing for every sergeant I help train.

So, here are my 10 tips for new sergeants . . .

  1. Successful sergeants spend 80% of their time working with people and 20% doing everything else. Sergeants that fail to inspire, have a poor squad culture, and breed negative officers focus more on everything else rather than people and building relationships.
  2. Successful sergeants find ways to teach their officers to be adaptive decision-makers; not robots that only understand “if – then” statements. When opportunities present themselves, sergeants explain their process for making difficult decisions and everything they took into account. Then, when their officers face similar situations they will apply their own similar process.
  3. Successful sergeants never waste briefing time. There is always something that could be discussed, debated, trained, or learned in briefing. This is one of the few opportunities when sergeants have their entire squad’s attention at one time; make the most of it.
  4. Successful sergeants understand that policing is a complicated profession. Both sergeants and their officers are going to make mistakes at some point. Do not hide mistakes, share them openly and turn them into learning opportunities focused on improvement. Mistakes are fine, just don’t make the same one twice.
  5. Successful sergeants recognize, reward, and promote good police work by their officers. They use whatever methods are available at their department to make this happen anytime an officer goes above and beyond. Not only does this create a more positive culture, but it also spurs on more officers to look for opportunities to go above and beyond. What a sergeant rewards will be repeated.
  6. Successful sergeants have a vision of the culture they want to have on their squad. Squad culture is defined as the conglomeration of your officers’ actions, attitude, and effort. If you asked another sergeant to describe your squad in 4 words, what words would they use? That is your culture. If you don’t like those words, do something about it.
  7. Successful sergeants do not lead from their desks. They get out on the road with their officers and find ways to serve them throughout each shift. They never believe themselves to be too good for the “grunt” work of being an officers; they get in there and get their hands dirty occasionally.
  8. Successful sergeants recognize that their actions, attitude, and effort tell their officers what is important to them. If a sergeant speaks negatively about their schedule, some situation at the department, or some aspect of the job, then don’t be surprised when the officers have that same opinion or are representing that opinion openly. Negativity breeds negativity.
  9. Successful sergeants know what they do not know, then they find ways to compensate for those areas. If they are not good at tactical situations, they talk to the department’s SWAT officers about various scenarios and how they would handle them. If they are not good at traffic or investigations, they build relationships with motors or detectives that are respected. The most important aspect of this tip is that a sergeant never fakes knowledge and gives bad advice to an officer. This will kill their credibility. If an officer has a question that the sergeant does not know the answer to, the best thing they can do is say, “That is a great question, I don’t know, but I know someone who will. Standby and I’ll call you right back.”
  10. Successful sergeants never allow themselves or their officers to stop learning. The minute a sergeant thinks they know it all is the moment they begin sliding towards mediocrity. A sergeant values training and realizes that the more training they can get for their officers, the better their officers will be on the road.

Got a tip you would give to a new sergeant?

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

books

TBLL Leadership Reading List

Culture can be nurtured within a law enforcement organization in a number of different ways. I have been fortunate to have multiple opportunities to positively affect my department’s culture by being involved in the Field Training Officer (FTO) Program, as a trainer of Field Training Officers, as a Sergeant, as a Sergeant Field Trainer, and by assisting in the develop of our department’s leadership-based sergeant selection process. All of these opportunities have enabled me to develop a level influence within the culture of the department that I take very seriously. So, when I was asked by a sergeant test candidate what has influenced my personal leadership style and what resources I have used to develop the material that comes out on Thin Blue Line of Leadership, I decided to provide my recommended leadership reading list.

These books have been vital in the development of Thin Blue Line of Leadership content, my own leadership style, my community interactions, how I operate within my department, and also how I operate with my squad of officers. I can vouch for the value in all of them as there are multiple concepts that I have implemented from each of the books listed below. If you are not a big reader or just do not have the time, all of these books can be purchased and listened to by using the Audible app on both Apple and Android devices. About half of these books I listened to while driving in to work and the rest were read the old fashioned way.

These books were all written from the perspective of the business world; not policing. Therefore, as I read each of them, I continually asked myself “How does this apply to policing?” and “How do I incorporate these ideas into my squad/department?” Then I molded the ideas I liked into my leadership style, community interactions, department interactions, and/or squad expectations. For two of these books I have written a law enforcement synopsis and those are linked in the book titles. I have also linked each book’s picture to Amazon in case you are inspired to buy any of the books mentioned.

In case you are wondering, I do not work for Amazon or any of these publishing companies. I simply want to share some good leadership knowledge with you. Enjoy . . .

Start with Why     Leaders Eat Last     Entreleadership

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey 

First fast fearless      Energy bus     Training Camp

First, Fast, Fearless by Brian Hiner (Ret. Navy Seal Lieutenant Commander)

The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon

Training Camp by Jon Gordon

Hard Hat     Soup     You Win

The Hard Hat by Jon Gordon

Soup by Jon Gordon

You Win in the Locker Room First by Jon Gordon

Turn Around     Failing-Forward     Miserable

Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet

Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell

The Three Signs of a Miserable Job by Patrick Lencioni

Five Dysfunctions     The ideal Team player     Good to GReat

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni

Good to Great by Jim Collins

I truly hope you get as much out of each of these books as I did. Please let me know if you have any reading suggestions for me and I’ll check them out.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

miserable

3 Signs of a Miserable Law Enforcement Job

“High school kids at In-N-Out Burger and Chick-fil-A are doing largely the same job that kids at any other fast-food restaurant are doing, and yet there are a lot fewer miserable jobs at In-N-Out and Chick-fil-A. The difference is not the job itself. It is the management. And one of the most important things that managers must do is help employees see why their work matters to someone. Even if this sounds touchy-feely to some, it is a fundamental part of human nature.”     – Patrick Lencioni

3signs

The premise of the book “3 Signs of a Miserable Job” by Patrick Lencioni is simply this – staying in a miserable job can have severely negative consequences on a person mentally, physically, and emotionally. These consequences can affect a person’s life both personally and professionally and it does not have to be that way. The good news is that, as supervisors, we have the ability to combat the 3 signs of a miserable job and it really is not that complicated.

Here are the 3 signs of a miserable job . . .

  1. ANONYMITY

“People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. . . . People who see themselves as invisible, generic, or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing.”

  1. IRRELEVANCE

“Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone. Anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment. Even the most cynical employees need to know that their work matters to someone, even if it’s just the boss.”

  1. IMMEASUREABILITY

“Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution for themselves. They cannot be fulfilled in their work if their success depends on the opinions or whims of another person, no matter how benevolent that person may be. Without a tangible means for assessing success or failure, motivation eventually deteriorates as people see themselves as unable to control their own fate.”

In relation to law enforcement, if an officer is miserable in their job due to the factors of anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurability, then what is the cost to them personally, their squad, their department, and the community they are supposed to be serving? Personally, they carry their misery home which adversely affects their family life. They become the salty grump in the back of the briefing room that complains about everything and sucks the energy out of all around them. To the department they are a liability because of the negative impact on the culture and the unpredictability of their actions on the road. The community suffers because the miserable officer represents the worst of the police department which erodes public trust and makes the job that much more difficult for the officers that are not miserable. How many officers are you picturing in your head right now that match this description of a miserable officer?

Here are 25 ways law enforcement supervisors can combat anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurability . . .

ANONYMITY

  1. Create a team atmosphere within the squad where it is believed that we is greater than I.
  2. When you get a new officer, meet with them individually and get them on board with the squad culture from day one.
  3. Recognize good police work in briefing. What you reward will be repeated.
  4. Have officers debrief good calls for service and share their expertise and successes with others.
  5. Get out of the office and on the road with your officers. Try to get on a call for service or backup each of your officers during each shift, if time allows.
  6. Rotating having officers conduct briefing training based upon their policing strengths and interests.
  7. Meet with officers regularly to discuss their career goals and seek out opportunities to help them fulfill those goals.
  8. Get to know your officers’ families. Create opportunities for them to all get together with the other families of the squad.
  9. Send handwritten thank you notes to your officers’ spouses or significant others to let them know that you appreciate the commitment that the families make to law enforcement, too.

IRRELEVANCE

  1. Making policing relevant is about getting back to the “why.” Know why you chose to become a police officer. Know why you chose to be a supervisor. Share your why with your officers. Get to know their why, find opportunities to relate their why to calls for service, and discuss the relationship in briefing.
  2. As a supervisor, you set the tone and create value in community service. If it is important to you, it will be important to them.
  3. Promote public commendations in briefing by reading them aloud for all your officers to hear.
  4. Teach your officers to be good beat cops and take pride in their assigned part of the city.
  5. Get away from the term customer service and focus on community service. The term customer service cheapen what we do as police officers and builds irrelevance.
  6. Have discussions in briefing regarding who your officers serve. Point out that they serve not only the community, but they also serve each other. Discuss that you, the supervisor, are there to serve them.
  7. Teach your squad to have a focus on finding solutions while on calls for serve; not on producing statistics, being a band aid, or handling them as quickly as possible.
  8. Exemplify and promote a culture of positivity on your squad through your actions, attitude, and effort.
  9. Provide good feedback and evaluations to your officers. In return, ask for them to do the same for you.

IMMEASUREABILITY

Of the 3 signs of a miserable job, immeasureability is the most difficult for law enforcement supervisors to deal with directly. There is no limit to the number of statistics that can be measured for each officer: calls for service responded to, self-initiated activities, arrests made, tickets written, response times, amount of time spent on each call, number of community policing activities, etc. The question becomes, are we measuring the right things?

  1. Clearly define what the “rock star” police officer would do on a “perfect” shift based upon the mission, vision, and operational goals of the department.
  2. Determine what statistics officers and/or the department have the ability to capture that correspond to the “perfect” shift. If part of the “perfect” shift includes community policing and/or positive interactions with the community, then a way to count those interactions must be determined, as well.
  3. Set specific goals based upon what the “perfect” shift would look like that clearly define what success looks like for officers and provide them with a way to track those numbers.
  4. Ultimately, whatever is chosen to be measured must be supported by the officers’ direct supervisors because the direct supervisors will give the statistics being measure their value.
  5. Supervisors must assist officers in seeing the positive perspective to their seemingly negative activities like making arrests or writing tickets.
  6. The question to be answered is how do you measure community policing activity effectiveness? Do you count the number of positive citizen commendations, the number of people that say “thank you” after being arrested/written a ticket, or the amount of time dedicated to solving beat problems? This is where the difficulty in the measurability of policing comes into play and must be answered by departments everywhere.

There are many more ways to combat anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurability in policing. If these 3 signs of a miserable job are not addressed by law enforcement supervisors, then they will have to deal with the miserable officers they are allowing to be created.

“If you’re still not convinced that this makes sense or that it applied to you, this would be a good time to consider resigning your position as a manager and finding a role as an individual contributor.”  – Patrick Lencioni

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

Stripes Rectange

10 Steps for Teaching Leadership in Law Enforcement – Part 2

10 Steps

This is Part 2 of 10 Steps for Teaching Leadership in Law Enforcement. To read Part 1, click here.

  1. Leadership-Based Promotional Processes

When it comes to promoting higher in rank, every department seems to have their own unique process; usually some combination of written tests, assessment centers, oral boards, etc. Most of these evaluation tools focus more on the managerial qualities of rank rather than leadership qualities. In order to promote the continual learning of leadership, promotional processes must be based upon leadership demonstrated in the past, present, and most likely into the future. That is what a leadership-based promotional process must be based upon; the prediction of continued leadership into the future. I will not try to give a generic process that a law enforcement agency should duplicate, but I will try to make a few points that any agency should focus their process upon in their own way.

(1) How has the promotional candidate represented the definition of leadership as described in Step #2 in their current and past assignments?

(2) Has the promotional candidate contributed to the future of the agency as a Field Training Officer and how have their Officers-In-Training turned out?

(3) Is the promotional candidate an instructor of anything; do they share their knowledge and expertise with others to make those around them stronger?

(4) How has the promotional candidate responded to failure and/or correction in the past?

(5) How does the promotional candidate make others feel around them?

(6) Does the promotional candidate lean more towards being an optimist or a pessimist?

(7) Has the promotional candidate shown an ability to bring a team or squad together?

If an agency creates a process that focuses on these 7 questions, they will identify the future leaders that should be promoting and those who should not.

  1. Leadership-Based Sergeant Training Program

First-line supervisors have the most direct influence on their officers and sworn officers make up the largest percentage of any law enforcement agency. Even though sergeant is typically the lowest rank of official promotion, this influence gives them a great deal of power within the organization and in the development of the department’s culture. Therefore, it is imperative that law enforcement agencies have a well thought out leadership-based sergeant training program. The word sergeant comes from the Latin term “serviens” which means “one who serves” and it is important that a sergeant training program emphasizes this belief for the good of the department and the continuous teaching of leadership. Creating a Sergeant-In-Training (SIT) Program for officers that are seeking promotion which occurs prior to promotion and mimics a Field Training Officer Program, provides the agency with consistency in training among their leadership ranks. A good Sergeant-In-Training Program should be built upon the department’s definition of leadership. As the sergeant-in-training progresses through the phases of the SIT Program, the experienced training sergeant must ensure that the SIT adheres to the department’s definition of leadership in their decision-making, interactions with officers, running of critical incidents, and in all other duties of a sergeant. In these actions they will be evaluated and only upon successful completion of the Sergeant-In-Training Program will they officially promote.

  1. Experience on Rookie Schedules

The most easily influenced officers within an agency are the rookies. They come out of the academy full of piss and vinegar ready to save the world only to realize once they step foot on the streets that they really do not know nearly as much as they thought they did. Upon making this humbling realization, they become the most malleable officers with the entire department. Therefore, if there are schedules (ie. nights and weekends) within the agency where rookie officers conglomerate due to their lack of seniority, then there must be a mechanism in place to exemplify the application of the department’s definition of leadership as they learn to work within their new world as police officers. It is vital to have sergeants and hopefully a couple of experienced officers, possibly FTOs, they can work alongside that represent the highest standards of leadership within the agency. Having these models for rookies to watch and emulate at the early stages of their careers perpetuates both the desired culture and leadership style of the department. If change is sought within an agency, start by influencing the rookies. Over the long run, the rookies will work their way through the years of their careers and possible promotion to eventually complete the cycle of teaching leadership throughout the various schedules and ranks of the department.

  1. Mentorship at All Levels of Command

In order to support the department’s definition of leadership at all levels, there must be a trickle-down effect of mentorship. With a single, consistent message being passed through the ranks, the cycle of leadership will be further disseminated. Experienced officers should mentor newer officers. Sergeants should mentor their experienced officers. Lieutenants should mentor their sergeants and so on throughout the agency’s ranks. The key is that the agency’s definition of leadership must be the one consistent message throughout. (Example “Trickle-Down Leadership”)

  1. 360 Evaluations & Feedback

The final step for teaching leadership in law enforcement creates the guidelines for making sure all involved in the teaching of leadership remain true to the message. Having an evaluation system established that takes into account the perspectives of those above, at, and below each rank in the chain of command will provide the feedback necessary to motivate leaders to stay true to the department’s definition of leadership. True leaders should not fear what they may hear from those they work with and around in their evaluations, if they have been true leaders directed by the definition of leadership put forward by the department. They welcome the feedback and opportunity to learn and improve as leaders. If evaluations of a leader are negative, then that should serve as an arrow pointing out the direction in which additional leadership training and mentorship should take place. If negative feedback continues after additional training and mentorship have been given, then consideration should be made into whether or not the department wants that leader to remain in a leadership position because it will be at the expense of those they are supposed to be leading. These evaluations need to be active and on-going. Receiving feedback once a year is not nearly enough to provide an accurate guide for leadership. Once a quarter would provide a more regular supply of information, but the key is that the evaluation process must be quick and simple. A time consuming evaluation process done 4 times a year would do nothing but add more paperwork to an already administratively burdened profession. The key to having success with this type of process is that the definition of leadership is clear, trust in the process is developed, and an environment of education and learning is supported.

By implementing these 10 steps to teach leadership in law enforcement, the department gains a clear and concise message of leadership throughout the organization. Once all ranks within the department share the same message, the effort needed to sustain this culture of leadership will lessen. Inspired leaders will inspire officers which will improve policing and thus improve the community they serve.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!