The Tarnished Badge Remix

This is an updated version of the Tarnished Badge video that I posted earlier. This one was done at the Character Training Institute a few years ago (which you can tell by the increased amount of hair I have…!). I also talk about the relationship between Character and Achievement, a concept I explore in even more detail in the Twin Towers of Integrity video

The police badge is a symbol of the public trust. We expect the badge to be returned one day worn, but never tarnished by unethical, illegal, or immoral behavior. This badge was worn by one of my deputy sheriffs who was actually arrested for distribution of marijuana. It was returned tarnished and is no longer fit to be issued to any other law enforcement officer. “He who has been given a trust must prove himself faithful…”

Note: As soon as I figure out how to overcome some technical difficulties, I have a very nice training series called Polishing the Tarnished Badge that I hope to upload to the blog in the next few days. The video clips will be from a training session that Franklin Smith and I conducted at the National Sheriff’s Association Conference in 2008.
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Determination – A drunk and his beer are not easily parted…

A little bit out of the norm for the Police Dynamics blog, but I couldn’t help but think just how determined this drunk was to hang on to his beer…!

The working definition we use for Determination comes from the Character First! curriculum. It says that determination is:

Purposing to accomplish right goals at the right time, regardless of the opposition

Of course you have to question his choice of goals in this video, but you can’t question his commitment…!

Law enforcement and leadership are full of obstacles. In his book Challenging the Law Enforcement Organization: Proactive Leadership Strategies, Jack Enter calls leadership the “path of most resistance.” (I have heard Jack speak on numerous occasions and am very impressed with his humor, communications skills, and insights into police leadership. I highly recommend him as a consultant and motivational speaker.) Jack promotes determination in the face of opposition as a key character quality for effective police leadership.

I am currently reading Larry Kreider‘s new book,  the 21 Tests of Effective Leadership. Larry makes the same point. He says discipline is the key to passing the Perseverance Test:

“Discipline is what keeps us going forward when our emotions are saying something different. Discipline is what causes us to ‘order our steps’ and face our fears… Discipline keeps our thoughts and emotions on track when circumstances around us would dictate otherwise.”

And I’ve often found myself saying “The undisciplined life is not worth living.”

If only we could demonstrate the level of determination demonstrated by this drunk in accomplishing some of our “right goals.”

Through the Magnifying Glass

People are quick to say that ethical matters are not always black and white, but often gray. My counter is that I don’t think it’s a matter of grayness. Grayness is just our lack of information or our lack of understanding of the underlying ethical principles.

It’s like looking at a black and white photograph in a newspaper. At first glance, there appears to be a lot of gray. But pull out a magnifying glass and look closer. What do you see? A bunch of black dots on a white background. So what appears to be gray on the surface is really just black and white when we analyze it more closely.

Ethical situations can be a lot like the photo. We sometimes have to pull out our “ethical magnifying glass” if we are to see and understand the underlying principles more effectively. Once we can bring the black and white into focus, our ethical decisions become easier.

I was reminded of this principle earlier today when I read a post by Jack Marshall on the Ethics Alarm Blog Site (an excellent resource for ethics-based leadership, by the way). Police Dynamics and the principles of good character help us to keep that magnifying glass polished so we can make better ethical decisions.

Police Dynamics in Sierra Leone

Making the decision to retire after serving three terms as the Sheriff in Dorchester County, SC was a difficult one. But I had my time in and my wife and I felt like we should move on to other challenges. It didn’t take me long to find one!

One week after my retirement, I found myself in Sierra Leone, a small country in West Africa. I had been requested by the City Manager of Freetown to present Police Dynamics training to their National Police and Military. So I spent two weeks in this fascinating country that has been ravaged by unimaginable atrocities during a decade of civil unrest due to the conflict diamond trade (watch the movie Blood Diamond and you’ll see what I mean).

By and large, the police are feared by the populace and corruption is a way of life. The leaders there are in the process of rebuilding the government and realize just how important good character is to regaining the trust of the citizens.

One of the attendees, an Inspector named Gusman, had this to say during the closing ceremony to the Mayor of Freetown and members of the City Council:

His comments:

This course will have a profound impact on our professional lives. This course has taught us how bad character will not enable us to achieve our organizational goals…

We have learned that if we become good officers, if we respect our people, if we discharge our duties responsibly, without fear or favor, we will earn the respect of the citizens of this country. They also taught us certain principles about forgiveness, about patience, that we might take to our homes to teach our wives and our children so that collectively all of us will become responsible citizens…

I am very grateful on behalf of our police, to the City Council, and to the Police Dynamics Institute for this effort. I am sure, when we get back to our various institutions, we will share this knowledge that we have learned…

I think Gusman got the message and nicely summed up what Police Dynamics is all about

The Giant Chessboard – The Challenge of Criminal Strongholds

Fighting crime is much like a game of chess. Imagine that your jurisdiction is a giant chess board where a war of sorts is being waged. Just like in a real war, or a real game of chess, our opponents (the criminals) are trying to take ground.

When they become entrenched in a neighborhood and rule through fear and intimidation, they have established a criminal stronghold. From here, criminals will branch out into other neighborhoods, commit their evil deeds, and retreat back into the safety of the stronghold.

There are several strategies the we as police administrators might employ to deal with this community problem. One is the Reactive Model of policing. We can assign police officers to patrol the other neighborhoods, hoping that we might stumble across some criminal in the act of committing a crime, or discourage one from doing so by our “presence” in the neighborhood. As the saying goes, I suppose even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and then. But this proves to be a very ineffective crime fighting strategy and a poor use of our limited law enforcement resources.

The community policing or coactive policing model dictates that law enforcement must penetrate the stronghold to destroy the fear, apathy, and tolerance for crime that the criminals are relying on. Building trust based relationships through the power of good character is the key to this process. This is the truly effective crime-fighting strategy that we explore here.