Police Dynamics is a character-based leadership program developed by Sheriff Ray Nash (ret.) of Dorchester County, SC. Based on a series of leadership principles called “dynamics”, the program is designed to make law enforcement agencies more powerful and effective. To date, Sheriff Nash has trained over 10,000 law enforcement officials and government leaders from around the world in the principles of Police Dynamics, including the Romanian National Police, the Sierra Leone National Police and the Moscow Police Command College. He is currently serving in Afghanistan as a Police Program Advisor for the Department of State at the US Embassy in Kabul. Recently, Sheriff Nash has been assigned to the International Police Coordination Board Secretariat where he serves as the Rule of Law Coordinator.
The fifth virtue in the Ten Virtues of a Law Officer series states:
(I will purpose to) Strengthen society’s foundational unit of
order, the family, by supplying love, provision, direction and protection to my own family; and supporting and encouraging others to do the same.
The family really is the foundational unit of order in any society. And your job as peacekeepers is relatively easy when families are strong. That’s why Reactive and Proactive Policing are workable models when things are going well. It’s fairly easy for law enforcement and local governments to move a community forward when the roadway is nice, smooth, and well-maintained.
But what happens when the roadbed begins to crumble? What happens when that foundational unit of order begins to struggle, to destabilize, and in many cases fall apart all together? We find ourselves bogged down in the muck and mire of lawlessness, social disorder, and moral decay.
To pull us out of that rut, we need Four-wheel Drive Policing. This is the Coactive model where we get the other components of the community engaged and pulling in the same direction. Only then will we see our communities rise out of the muck and mire and get on down the road toward peace, safety, stability, and prosperity.
So there are two goals for Coactive, Character-based Policing: Peaceful neighborhoods and stable and successful families. Some might challenge me at this point and ask, “What right do I have to tell someone else how to raise their families? That’s not my job. That’s not the role of government.” My answer to that challenge is, “Oh, yeah? At 3 o’clock in the morning, when the family is in crisis, who is it that responds?” It’s not typically the social workers or the family counselors. Some pastors might not even get out of bed at that hour. It’s you!
So my point is that your are already engaging when the family is at a crisis point. I’m just saying let’s do it more coactively. Let’s do it more strategically. And let’s set a good example.
What about our own families? Maybe we should start there. There’s no question that our law enforcement families are under some unique pressures. And we are paying a high price with our divorce rates and levels of domestic violence.
Let’s start by becoming the spouses and parents that we want others to be. Let’s set the moral standard of family stewardship. That’s what Virtue #5 is all about…
Sheriff Ray Nash
Police Dynamics Institute
The fourth in the Ten Virtues of a Law Officer series states:
(I will purpose to) maintain my readiness for duty by seeking proper rest, diet, and exercise…
This is another one of those virtues that will likely get a reaction out of some of you. There’s no question that the police lifestyle does not encourage healthy habits. But it is critically important that we maintain our physical and mental fitness for duty. That means you have to start taking care of yourself if you are not already.
Encouragingly, a healthy lifestyle is not all that difficult. Like building character, wellness is the culmination of small decisions that you make everyday. Making good decisions about what you do with, and put into, your body will produce positive results over time. It’s another variation of the Law of the Harvest – you reap what you sow.
This is such an important component of professionalism that I have included a whole Dynamic of Wellness in the Police Dynamics training program and it tends to be one of the best received of all the training segments. In it, I stress the fact that you don’t have to be fit to be well. Health can be thought of as a continuum with Wellness on one end and Illness on the other. If you’re sick, it’s a doctor’s job to get you to the middle where you have zero illness. But wellness requires going beyond the zero point.
You can think of fitness as an extreme form of wellness. That’s not for everyone, but if you are in that zone, good for you and keep it up. For most of us, wellness is a good place to be. And to follow this model to the next level, death would be at the extreme end of illness.
Here’s my philosophy. I don’t know how long I am going to live, but I want to spend as much time as I can in the Wellness Zone. And that means making good decisions about exercise, nutrition, and stress management (which includes rest). This is such an important component of our overall fitness for duty, I have set up an entire website around the Dynamic of Wellness. Go there for some great principles that will get you in the Wellness Zone, and keep you there, with a minimum of time and effort.
But here is the bottom line. As a professional law officer, other people depend upon your ability to be physically and mentally sharp. You do not have the right to be out of shape…!
Sheriff Ray Nash
Police Dynamics Institute
The third virtue of the Ten Virtues of a Law Officer states:
(I will purpose to) refrain from vulgar, obscene, coarse, or offensive language that may offend others…
This is one of those virtues that will likely rub some police and correctional officers the wrong way. After all, bad language is so ingrained in our culture, no matter how crude or offensive to others it may be. Some argue that it a coping mechanism, others that street-language is necessary when dealing with street-thugs. However, professionalism demands that we control our tongues. Failure to do so is not only unprofessional, it shows a lack of discipline and character (not to mention a limited vocabulary)…
The first night I ever rode in a police car as a 16 year old kid (in the front seat, not the back), I remember the officer telling me that I was free to “take anything home” that I learned at the police station, except for the language. Well, guess what I took home? That’s right, the language. It was some years later, as I was contemplating marriage and raising a family, that I realized I needed to clean up my language. It wasn’t that hard and I am so glad I did.
Now, I’m not advocating that we become a bunch of prudes. That’s not realistic and probably not particularly desirable. But we do need to clean up our language. If we don’t do it, the courts will likely do it for us. This doesn’t mean that we won’t let an expletive slip every now and then. But it does mean that crude language and coarse joking should not be the norm.
I remember when I was Sheriff that the best compliment I would get on the deputies and staff was the lack of foul language. And many of our staff, particularly some of the ladies, would often tell me how refreshing it was to work in an environment that was free of crude talk and sexual innuendo. Not only is taming the tongue good character and good policy, but it also insulates you from a potential sexual harassment charge.
Limiting my freedom so I do not offend the tastes of those around me
No where is this more important than in the area of our speech. Resorting to foul language, even during a street confrontation, is rarely necessary and generally shows a lack of tactical communication skills and an amateurish approach to generating voluntary compliance.
Sheriff Ray Nash
Police Dynamics Media
I just went back through my e-book and am developing “Co-active” police dynamics within the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office. I have a question about the tower of Peace. I embrace the “Character and Competence” issue completely. However, my issue is “Wisdom vs. Knowledge.” Knowledge can be received through training and I’m good with placing it within the competence column. Wisdom to apply knowledge must be factored into this equation in some area. Where do you place it?
I understand that maturity plays an important role in this arena and that character attached to wisdom comes over time and is the ultimate goal. However, all people who have good character do not necessarily have wisdom. I’m not trying to build another column under your tower, but I woke up this morning thinking about this issue when a veteran officer who has character, competence, training, education, but doesn’t always apply his training with “Wisdom.” Suggestions? Where would you include it and why?
Hope you are doing well and you remain safe. I pray for your safety daily. Good luck with the Camels!
Here is my response to the undersheriff’s question:
Thanks for contacting me about your question. You raise an interesting point that caused me to deliberate a bit. While wisdom is defined as one of the 49 character qualities, I tend to agree with you that it may need a special place in the model. The Twin Towers are, of course, an attempt to depict a very complex human principle in a simple 2-dimensional diagram. That being said, I think wisdom may be a component of overall integrity – in other words it is a manifestation of both character and competence.
I do think there is a third tower, but I’m not sure I would call it wisdom. I think there is a third component of overall leadership which is communication – the ability to communicate vision, principles, values, passion, etc. I just haven’t found a way to incorporate it into the training at this point.
Hope all is well in Wakulla County. Wakulla Springs is still one of my most favorite places on the planet. I took my son there when we were travelling through FL before I deployed to Afghanistan two years ago.
Posting comments to this blog is a great way to build dialogue and encourage discussion on law enforcement character and ethics. Please do so frequently…
The second virtue of the Ten Virtues of a Law Officer states:
Maintain a humble attitude that is reverent and grateful in spirit, even in the face of resistance and disrespect…
Operating under authority, keeping you ego in check, and remaining respectful even in the face of disrespect is the essence of professionalism and distinguishes the true professional from the amateur…
(I apologize for the poor quality of the video. I am trying to find the right camera settings for the low light conditions in my hooch…)
When I was a young police officer, I remember my father telling me, “In my opinion, the best police officer is the one who has learned to balance his authority with humility.” At the time, I didn’t appreciate the wisdom and power of my Dad’s statement, but he was absolutely right. And in retrospect, it is the very essence of the Police Dynamics message: keeping your ego in check by operating under authority. There’s power there, as well as protection – the fundamental role of authority.
Let’s talk about respect for a moment. I can’t tell you how many law enforcement officers I have trained in the past who will say something like, “I’ll be respectful to them as long as they are respectful to me!” You want to know what that is? Amateur hour, that’s what! Anybody can be respectful if the other person treats them with respect. But the professional response is to be respectful even in the face of disrespect.
And isn’t this what gets so many law enforcement and correctional officers in trouble? Maybe the actions were legally justified, but the disrespectful attitude of the officer came through in what he said, and, more importantly, HOW he said it. And that’ what sank him in court. To quote Dr. George Thompson of the Verbal Judo Institute again, “What YOU say can and will be used against YOU in a court of law…!”
It goes back to not taking things personally. An officer operating out from under authority is being ruled by his own ego. He takes any resistance or challenge to his authority as a personal affront… then takes it out on the person he perceives as being disrespectful. But the professional law officer has learned to put his ego aside so he can take things professionally, not personally. That’s what I mean by cultivating a humble spirit. And it’s also what my Dad meant by balancing your authority with humility.
It’s not easy and it doesn’t come naturally. But it IS the essence of professionalism.
Sheriff Ray Nash
Police Dynamics Media