The job of police leaders is to lead the organization’s core values and reinforce right attitudes. Policing is not only being challenged today on what it does (those damaging videos!) — but also by what police SAY.
In my own hometown and across the nation, police have been caught saying things that professional officers simply should not say because they call into question whether officers who say those kind of things can ever be fair.
I was surprised to hear numerous accounts of police on either work-based text messages or verbal “talk-around” radio channels say some very uninformed things about race, sexual orientation, poor people, immigrants and homeless people. Talk like that cannot be tolerated in a professional workplace. (Check HERE for an example.)
Therefore, it is the job of a leader to monitor not only what goes on out on the street but also what is posted in the locker room, said on “talk-around,” or posted on social media.
I am not being picky here, I am being honest about the various ways a police badge can be smudged. A professional takes custody of his or her professional speech and writings (ethical behavior is what you do when you know no one is looking or listening).
Bad attitudes lead to bad behavior; bad behavior leads to a loss in trust, safety, and effectiveness.
- Competent police leaders manage the culture and reinforce right attitudes and behaviors by what they say and do.
- When leaders see that the words or behaviors of those whom they lead do not reinforce the department’s core values they take action.
- Attitude matters! Officers can be well-trained and technically competent, but without a good attitude, what they do appears to others as insincere or worse.