Interesting to see that the Chiefs are meeting in Calgary at their annual knees-up and bun toss hosted this year by Jack Beaton. Even more interesting is the CBC story headlined on Prime Time Crime saying a significant topic of discussion will be how to stay out of trouble. ( Police chiefs meet to talk controversy)
Considering the morass Calgary Chief Beaton has immersed himself in this last year or so, one hopes he attends all the seminars and pays special attention to the speakers. But, in the event he dosen’t, allow me to provide some free advice.
If a bunch of serving members file lawsuits against another, senior police officer alleging fraud and other criminal offences, take it seriously, investigate the matter thoroughly and in the interest of protecting the police department’s public image, place the officer under the cloud of suspicion on suspension until the matter has been dealt with and the officer has either cleared his or her name or the matter has been proven.
This simple piece of advice also extends to other allegations like racism practiced by senior officers to subordinate staff. Or, for example, if another senior officer points a gun at a subordinate officer, don’t try and sweep the incident under a rug.
I know this sounds basic, but Beaton’s history in the top chair seems to have missed some of these more rudimentary points.
Oh yeah, there’s another simple way of keeping out of harm’s way for a senior police manager – tell the truth. I know, I know, pretty simple stuff. But you’d be amazed how often this simple rule of thumb seems to be foreign to certain members of the police establishment attending this conference.
The media, in whatever form, is not to be feared any more than the truth itself. Every organization, regardless, has its problem child or children. The law of averages is what it is. When a bad apple is discovered in the barrel, acknowledge it. Deal with him or her fairly and appropriately and then tell the public what you have done. You’d be surprised how supportive the public would be if you treated them like intelligent people.
The police do not need spin doctors. Doing the job of protecting the public speaks for itself. Every police officer subjects his or her self to danger every shift and their actions don’t need to be spun. Equally, if a rogue officer screws up, explain the facts and show the public what you have done to rectify the situation, discipline the transgressor and take steps to ensure there is no repeat performance.
The cops at the sharp end of things need to be supported in any senior manager’s actions, discussions and decisions. Protecting the bad apples and supporting the carpet cops is not the way to earn the loyalty of the street cops who do the hard work day in and day out.
Being a leader in a police service is all about being everyone’s Chief, not feathering the nest of one’s cronies. It’s about being fair. It’s about working hard, day in and day out to make your city a better place and to support the cops who will walk into hell to make the city a safer place.
As with any high profile public position, the Chief will have supporters and detractors. But, the job is about rising above the fray and doing one’s best to fulfill the obligations to one’s oath of office.
Oddly enough, if, as a chief or other senior police manager, you follow these simple steps, you do not need to hold conferences to discuss ways to keep the mud off your shoes. You manage properly not to walk in it.