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