Training, especially for EVOC, is often one of the first requests to get the axed during the budget process. Our practice — as a police chief and town manager — is to do the opposite: When funds are limited, investments in your people should be the last items cut. This rings true with the national climate and the challenges that today’s law enforcement officers face. During tough times when personnel are asked to do more with less, training budgets should increase. Those seminars, conferences and in-service training sessions often lead to employees generating the best ideas to save money and to improve safety and service. To be successful, any agency or business has to give its employees, especially those on the front lines, the right tools to do the job. This includes know-how!
Tactical budget strategies can help demonstrate that your requests are an investment, not an expense. In the book “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win,” authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin talk about the importance of leading up the chain of command. Their approach as SEALs is to take full responsibility when things don’t work, even when it appears senior leaders are not supporting them. Willink and Babin emphasize taking the initiative to inform decision-makers of what is needed to get the job done. When their requests in Iraq were denied, they took further steps — inviting senior leaders to see the problems or opportunities in the field — and examined how they could better convey information for decisions.
“We are here. We are on the ground,” Willink states on Page 235 of the book. “We need to push situational awareness up the chain. If they have questions, it is our fault for not properly communicating the information they need. We have to lead them. … We have to own everything in our world. That’s what Extreme Ownership is all about.” Elaborating further, the authors state that senior leaders in the military or a business want their people to succeed but have to justify decisions to their bosses.
The Extreme Ownership approach of these SEALs is a good tactic since the budget process is indeed a fight for limited resources. You are competing against other divisions and departments within your town, city or county. The bottom line is this: If you don’t put in the extra effort to submit a smart request that is well justified and gets the attention of decision-makers, then someone else will get your money.
Dealing with command staff, managers and elected officials doesn’t pose the dangers you face on the street, but it certainly brings its own share of risks, stress and frustration. To help you navigate your agency’s budget process, let’s close with some final “Extreme Ownership” advice: “When leading up the chain of command, use caution and respect. But remember, if your leader is not giving you the support you need, don’t blame him or her. Instead, reexamine what you can do to better clarify, educate, influence, or convince that person to give you what you need in order to win.” Best of luck on getting the support you need in your upcoming budget processes.
Part II of Tactical Budgeting will share specific ideas and strategies to increase the probability of getting your budget proposals funded.
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