“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it.”~Stephen R. Covey
Creating the lens through which your officers view their “policing world” is one of the most valuable lessons a law enforcement leader can provide. Engraining the philosophy that they are “saving the world one call at a time” conditions them into viewing their “policing world” through a positive and successful lens.
As the sergeant or first-line supervisor, you are responsible for establishing the lens of your squad. Whether it is positive or negative is determined by you. Reminding your squad on a regular basis that they are “saving the world one call at a time” sets a positive tone. You alone have the contact, communication, and connection with your officers to consistently remind them why they do what they do. If an officer loses their “why” then they lose their “way.” Don’t let that happen!
Convincing your officers that they are “saving the world one call as a time” sends four very valuable messages . . .
SAVING THE WORLD
1. Your work has value. “Saving the world” . . . Every call an officer responds to or initiates has value. Responding to a commercial alarm call gives the business owner security. Making traffic stops enhances roadway safety. Helping with a disabled vehicle, taking a theft report, settling a family fight . . . value, value, value. Never allow yourself to say that your officers are “just doing their job.” If they are saving the world, can their work have any more value?
2. Passion for policing is essential. “Saving the world” . . . Passion should not be discouraged, but encouraged. Finding your officers’ strengths and helping them to develop in those areas will create passion. Passion solidifies their purpose both on your squad and in the department. Passion brings officers to work enthusiastically, not just for a check. Passion generates production without having to set quotas or make demands. Passion makes better officers.
ONE CALL AT A TIME
3. Focus on each call. “One call at a time” . . . The call they are on should be your officers’ sole focus. Each and every call presents its own unique challenges and circumstances. Law enforcement establishes policy and creates training in the name of officer safety as a matter of routine, but if the focus is not there, then all of the policy and training in the world will not matter. Use “saving the world one call at a time” as a reminder of the importance to maintain focus while handle calls properly the first time so they do not become recurring issues.
4. Do not let the negatives compound. “One call at a time” . . . No one gets to see what we see or do what we do. This can be both very positive and very negative. It is vital that you speak with your officers regularly about the mentally tough calls they respond to so the negativity does not build up on the psyche. Watch for subtle behavioral signs that negativity is weighing on them. Combat negativity by rewarding and recognizing the positive behaviors and effort that come out while handling a negative call. Say something like, “Hey, I know that was a really tough call, but you did a phenomenal job handing the situation. I’m proud to have you on the squad.” Just a quick line like that takes all of the weight out of the call and opens up a great line of communication between you and the officer.
“Saving the world one call at a time” needs to be a mental brand that is impressed upon your officers early and often. Having a consistent message for everyone to rally around while handling the daily grind of policing develops the unity that is needed for a positive squad culture.
Does your squad have a positive philosophy to rally around?
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