New Address

I am in the process of totally revamping the Police Dynamics websites. Please move over to www.PoliceDynamics.com to see the latest postings and training resources. I hope to be posting some very valuable training resources in the near future, so be sure to subscribe to the site by submitting your email address on the right sidebar once you get there. This will allow you to download a number of free training resources as well.

I hope you enjoy the new look and format. Please be sure to pass it on to your friends and colleagues…

And give me some feedback for crying out loud…!

Sheriff Ray

The Ten Virtues of a Law Officer – Virtue #5

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 Ten Virtues of a Law Officer – Virtue #4

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 Ten Virtues of a Law Officer – Virtue #3

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.

The Character First! definition of deference is:

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

The Ten Virtues of a Law Officer – Virtue #2

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

The Ten Virtues of a Law Officer – Virtue #1

The first of the Ten Virtues of a Law Officer deals with the Dynamic of Authority. A professional, ethical law officer must faithfully represent those authorities placed over him. Here is the text of the first Virtue:

Always remain submissive to those in authority over me, in faithful obedience, realizing that I do not represent myself, but the trust of the people, the authority of the government, and the ideals of the police profession.

Oftentimes we fail to recognize what the term “submissive” really means. It is not a wimpy term. It is a military term that means operating “under the mission” or “under authority.” It is a powerful term that describes a military force ready to enter into battle. Dr. George Thompson of the Verbal Judo Institute recognizes it as the Art of Representation. It is the essence of integrity: being who you represent yourself to be. The uniform, the badge, the patch on your sleeve are meant to represent something — something much bigger than you are.

As a professional law officer you represent the law, you represent the department, you represent the government, you represent the ideals of the police profession, you represent the Constitution, … and you represent the people. The one thing that you don’t represent is yourself. Your goals, your agenda, and your ego are irrelevant to the accomplishment of the police mission.

True obedience, faithful obedience, is more than just following directions. Character-based obedience means “fulfilling the expectations of your authorities,” and it is much more powerful than just taking orders. Check out this Character Bulletin from Character First! to learn more about character-based obedience. It features the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office (while I was still serving as Sheriff) to highlight this important principle.

Regretfully, terms like obedient and submissive are often misconstrued by law enforcement officials and treated as insults. I mean, what self-respecting law officer wants to be known as the “most obedient” or the “most submissive’ officer on the force? This can indicate a blindspot. By that I mean that your own character flaw may cause you to react to the same flaw in others.

Think for a minute about the most disobedient officer you know on the force (hopefully not you). The one who is always bucking authority and rebels against authority at every opportunity. What sends him into orbit faster than anything else when he is dealing with someone on the street? Disobedience to him!

So the next time you find yourself reacting (or over-reacting) to someone else’s character flaw, take a minute for some self-reflection. You might find that that very same character flaw is evident in your own life … and you don’t even know it. That’s what I mean by a blindspot…!

Click on this link to download a full copy of the Ten Virtues of a Law Officer.

The Ten Virtues of a Law Officer – Introduction

Years ago (1999) I wrote the Ten Virtues of a Law Officer which is a character-based code of ethics for law enforcement professionals — not meant to supplant other codes of ethics that are out there, but to approach it from a different perspective consistent with the message of Police Dynamics. Here, in my first video post from the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and just a week after the attack of September 13 (warning – graphic photos), I offer an introduction to the Ten Virtues.

Over the next several weeks, I plan to post a video training clip on each of the virtues as a guide for law enforcement professionals (Please forgive the quality of the video. I am still experimenting with the video settings on my camera to deal with the poor lighting in my hooch)…

The Ten Virtues start with:

As a member of the law enforcement profession, I pledge to honor the sacred trust placed in me by God and the community I serve by guarding the thoughts and attitudes of my heart as I purpose to:

In a religious context, the definition of profession means an act of taking vows or declaring an oath. In a secular context, profession means a calling that requires specialized knowledge or credentials. In other words, to be considered a profession there must be a Professional Body of Knowledge, a Professional Body of Ethics, and a Professional Body of Standards that are enforced by a regulatory agency such as a POST, Police Officer Standards and Training, Board.

Law enforcement is a profession in every sense of the word (except for one). We have a Professional Body of Knowledge, a Professional Code of Ethics, and  Professional Standards that are enforced by a regulatory agency. We just don’t get PAID as professionals…!

According to Romans Chapter 13, law enforcement is a “ministry of God.” When a law officer takes the oath of office and says “so help me God” it’s got to mean something. If you don’t believe there IS a God, if you don’t believe there is a Supreme Being to whom we are held accountable for how we conduct ourselves in the is life and how we administer the authority that has been entrusted to us, then those words don’t mean very much, do they? A minister is simply one who serves. As a law officer, you have been called into the ministry of law enforcement. And you have been entrusted with a tremendous amount of authority from the citizens you serve. It really IS a sacred trust.

As a law officer you have power and authority to take away at least four things. Under the right circumstances you have the power to take away life, to take away property, to take away freedom, and to take away children. No one else in our society has that kind of authority. “He who has been given a trust must prove himself faithful.” That is the essential message of the Tarnished Badge.

It all starts with our heart – our motivation. The three root character flaws – anger, lust, and greed – originate there. It’s so important for us to guard the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. So as a professional law officer – one who has been called into the ministry of law enforcement, one who is truly faithful, one who is true to the oath of office, one who is true to the authority entrusted to him – we MUST purpose to do certain things. These are the Ten Virtues.

I use the word purpose because it means we will not do it perfectly. Understanding our own frailties, shortcomings, and character flaws, we are all works in progress. But we must endeavor to do these things. We must endeavor to live a life of character and faithfulness. That’s what the Ten Virtues are all about: endeavoring to honor the badge, endeavoring to honor the trust, keeping our egos and evil desires in check. So we can be the professional law officers we have been called to be…