Category Archives: Law Enforcement Today articles

Cops and Cavemen; Come out of the Cold

Chief at Rotary

First posted Law Enforcement Today; March 25, 2013 in Featured, Leadership, Posts by Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.

What’s With This Person?

I was speaking with a Law Enforcement Agency’s Commander about an officer who just did not seem to grasp an agency’s vision. Although clearly communicated over the last several years in agency-wide meetings, in-services, e-mails, social media, and personal conversations the officer just refuses to “get on board.”

This Commander is fully committed to the city, the agency and the progressive vision of the administration. The officer, uh…..not so much. In our last conversation about this officer the Commander asked, “Why can’t the officer just see what we are building?”

Construction-1

I replied that he is a “laggard.” He knew me well enough to understand that there was more, much more behind that term. Enjoying the dramatic pause, I then followed with “and you are an innovator!” He was still not convinced my response addressed the adversarial officer.

The Spread of Great Ideas

How do great ideas spread, what does it take for a product to catch the public’s imagination or why do organizations adopt behaviors as acceptable? There is a term originating from the social sciences called Diffusion of Innovations.

The term seeks to explain how, why and at what rate do new ideas and technology spread through various cultures. Consider the domestic application of fire. Someone’s great, great, great…grandfather had an experience with fire in a manner positively affecting the quality of his life. This also benefited the community, thus the culture of early human groupings and prosperity.

Had that innovation been quenched by an elder for the sake of maintaining tribal traditions, where would we be today? Literally; in the dark.

Obviously this innovation was replicated by the few with a capacity for appreciating, understanding, and promoting the domestic use of fire. Even though, how did a torch in Asia Minor spread to the Pacific Northwest?

caveman-fire

Fire, like the progressive vision of an administration, requires four elements influencing the adoption, implementation and sustainment of the vision.

1. Innovation

2. Communication channels

3. Time

4. Social systems

Relying on human capital to promote the wide-spread adoption of the new idea is critical for establishing it as a cornerstone of an administration. A Neanderthal passed that first torch, who then passed the next torch, and so on.

A Chief of Police (sometimes called a Neanderthal) shares their fire with a new vision, an organizational ideal or an operational paradigm shift. Then they wait for the agency to openly embrace the progressive public service direction. Then wait and wait.

Stop wasting your time waiting for something to happen. It won’t, and you will be like the solo caveman before the successful caveman who introduced fire to humanity.

The first one probably sat in a cave alone thinking how awesome and hot his new idea was. He never shared that flame, that fire, that passion for improving the collective culture. He probably expired in the cold after that flash extinguished.

I understood this concept as a new chief and strategically planned the introduction of my vision for organizational change. It was not wrapped around ego, but founded upon scientific principles of administration, theory, data analysis and old-fashioned accountability.

Innovation

The Innovation element was the organizational reliance upon data with NHTSA’s Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS). This proven philosophy has realized significant reductions in social harms formerly plaguing communities deserving a better quality of life.

Communications Channels

The Communications Channels used agency-wide introductions, e-mails, social media, public presentations and personal conversations to share the vision with actionable items for achieving quantifiable goals and performance standards. The element of time is the most difficult, because as chiefs we want it done yesterday. It is our idea, so it must be great and accepted immediately.

Time

Time is critical, as is timing. I always reassure my staff that I will not be out worked or out waited. If you have been on the job more than a year, you know what I mean. Time can be your friend or your enemy. In a fraternity where the primary goal becomes earning pension, they also know how to leverage “time” against your innovative ideas.

Social Systems

The final element required for achieving diffusion of innovations are Social Systems. Who do you go to lunch with regularly? How many mealtimes have you and posse in tow walked out past other officers?  As the leader of any organization it is vital that you do not allow that sense of comfort to control your actions. The perception of segregation or elitism spills water on the flame of your vision. Re-engage your team with your time and sincere attention.

Back to Officer Laggard. I explained to the Commander that an idea needs to reach a point of critical mass before becoming part of the culture. Reality is, not everyone will adopt your vision, as not everyone thought the “Flowbee” was great for cutting their own hair.

After convincing enough in your agency that the passion behind the vision produces sustainable results, they will also promote your vision and embrace it as their own. The good news is, you do not have to gain the support of every individual to obtain critical mass.

The “S” Curve Chart

This is where I should have paid more attention in math and statistics courses, but here it goes. Remember the Bell curve that spared so many of us from failing grades? It’s here again to demonstrate the phases and population adoption percentages for achieving critical mass (acceptance.)

The Diffusion of Innovations “S” Curve chart

Cultural Innovators & Early Adopters

Cultural innovation, be it fire or an IPhone involve four types of people. Only a small percentage of the culture is Innovators. Only one Steve Jobs, William Bratton, or you! These innovations are embraced by the Early Adopters. These are the officers embracing the new zero tolerance for DWI enforcement, or the first in line for the IPhone 76. They will carry the flag of your vision faithfully, regardless the cost or inconvenience.

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...Early Majority

Your first big slice of the culture’s population is the Early Majority. Great news is, you are no longer the single voice preaching the powerfully positive influences of your vision.  You’ve collected other Innovators and Early Adopters to carry your banner.  You have now achieved critical mass, and your policies, practices and persona are eligible for cultural sustainment. Eligible I say, because nothing is guaranteed.

Late Majority

Rounding down the employee pool is the Late Majority who will comply because the others seem to be benefitting from it. This group will not respond to your motivational plea, only to your very specific directions for what it is you want them to accomplish.  These employees are not contrary to the agency’s objective, but they are a reality and must be included in the vision sharing.

Laggards

Finally, Officer Laggard. He will only embrace your ideology when placed in personal jeopardy. Let off the pedal and they are back to a dead stop. While you may rejoice once Officer Laggard retires, resigns or finds employment in a scrapyard, it is short-lived euphoria.

There will always be a percentage, although a very small subculture of your population, as laggards.

Maintain your focus and your presence. Laggards drain your creative energies and distract you from providing your best positive mentoring attentions to those officers willing to trust the new direction.

Energy & Equity

Being successful in leadership also involves the wise expenditure of personal energy and equity investments. A sure way to fail in supervision is believing you can satisfy everyone. Don’t neglect fanning the flames of your “team” because the laggard wants to sit out in the dark.

Maybe the nocturnal wolf of unemployment will snatch him!

300Wolf

Learn more about this article here:

Rogers, E. M. (1960). Social change in rural society: A textbook in rural sociology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Rogers, E. M. (1962). Diffusion of innovations. New York: Free Press.

Scott Silverii, PhD is a native of south Louisiana’s Cajun Country and serving as the Chief of Police for the City of Thibodaux, Louisiana. Spending twenty-one previous years with a CALEA accredited Sheriff’s Office allowed opportunities for serving various capacities including 12 years narcotics, 16 years SWAT and Divisional Commands. Chief Silverii earned a Master of Public Administration and a Doctorate in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans, focusing his research on aspects of culture and organizations.  A member of IACP’s prestigious Research Advisory Committee, Chief Silverii, author of “A Darker Shade of Blue: From Public Servant to Professional Deviant” and contributor for TheBadgeGuys, is available at scottsilverii@gmail.com, @ThibodauxChief, or http://scottsilverii.com

Chief Silverii first posted this article at Law Enforcement Today; Cops and Cavemen; Come out of the Cold

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Chicago is Adopting The “Broken Windows” Strategy | Law Enforcement Today

Chicago Police Department

Chicago is Adopting The “Broken Windows” Strategy

Editor’s NOTE: In a city with a high propensity for violent crime, do you think fixing windows and erasing graffiti is the solution? Is The broken windows theory a crime fighting strategy or a quality of life improvement plan? Either way, something’s got to give.

May 5, 2013 in Crime, Crime Prevention, Featured, Posts by Jean Reynolds

In January, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced that 200 police officers were going to be reassigned to patrol work. Two weeks later, McCarthy had more news for Chicago residents:

Focusing on the little things

He is proposing an ordinance to authorize arrests for unpaid tickets for public urination, public consumption of alcohol, and gambling—“the three top complaints,” he said, from Chicago residents.

“Fixing the little things prevents the bigger things,” said McCarthy, a longtime advocate of the “broken windows” approach to fighting crime. “Broken windows” is the brainchild of social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling.

The theory behind it

They claimed that unrepaired windows, litter, and other signs of neighborhood decay constitute an announcement that a neighborhood has stopped taking responsibility for the quality of life in its public spaces. The next step is for responsible citizens to start moving out—and for lawbreakers to move in.

To learn more about it

To Read More about Chicago’s paradigm policing shift;  Chicago is Adopting The “Broken Windows” Strategy | Law Enforcement Today.

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Police Dispatchers: Unsung Heroes and Lifelines

Police Radio Communications Operator

Wrapping up our week of honoring Dispatchers is this piece posted by one of my favorite sites, Law Enforcement Today

Dispatchers; we truly appreciate you.

Dispatchers: Unsung Heroes and Lifelines

by Niki Tallent

March 14, 2013

According to the LA Police Protective League in discussing the shoot out with disgraced former Los Angeles police officer Christopher Dorner, “The chilling audiotape makes one thing clear: the civilian dispatcher did an outstanding job.

She performed flawlessly during this critical tactical incident. Her calm and professionalism most certainly saved officer lives. Being a police dispatcher is harder than most people think. In this case, the dispatcher fulfilled her duties with unfailing focus, composure and expertise. The incident underscores the essential role played by the dedicated emergency services dispatchers nationwide.”

You can listen to this brave dispatcher’s amazing job performance here:

http://lapd.com/blog/sheriffs_dispatchers_performance_during_big_bear_shootout/

Hearing someone’s last thoughts, panic and fear pour through a headset as you are sitting in a room helpless and wanting to protect could be the worst moment of your life.

The worst possible call I could ever receive would be an “officer down” call. Just thinking about it makes my heart do a flip-flop. This is not just because I am married to a LEO, but because I am a lifeline.

A dispatcher is a…

via Dispatchers: Unsung Heroes and Lifelines | Law Enforcement Today.

About the Author:

Niki Tallent married to her LEO James Tallent reside in Arkansas with their 5 sons and one dog. Niki is a 911 operator/dispatcher and her husband James a Deputy at Pulaski County. Niki went to Lakeside High School and soon started working as a dispatcher after her first son was born. Niki became Director for Arkansas Wives Behind the Badge Auxiliary after wanting to support LE even more. She joined Wives Behind the Badge Arkansas Auxiliary in March of this year, trying to find my place to help impact Arkansas LEOWs. In September She took over as Director of Arkansas Wives Behind the Badge after talking it through with my husband, whom at first was skeptical of the workload involved. The support for me from other LEOWs was absolutely amazing.

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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

SWAT PIC SOLO TORSOFebruary 13, 2013

in Featured, Patrol, Posts

by Chief Scott Silverii, Ph.D.

Let’s explore why it is so hard to “break up” from a job you love and love to not love. before beginning, I was approached by a lady Saturday night while monitoring a downtown nightclub crowd following the Ambrosia Mardi Gras parade. She is not associated with law enforcement and I am not sure who she is.

She was kind enough to share having read my previous LET article entitled, “I Quit!”. She emphasized that she read the whole thing. I was curious if she meant it was interesting, or long! Either way, it was a kind gesture. If she is reading this; thank you and owe this inspiration to you.

I realized then, that in addition to the many e-mails I receive from all of you in support of our cultural revolution, these principles apply to everyone. I write to encourage sincere public servants, but also know that cultures exist in all aspects of society.

Who knows, we may ignite a “change” reaction in another industry while recreating ours. I believe dedicated professionals are ready for a change, and desire a singular vision directing their energy. I believe “we” are the soldiers of evolution, and in our generation of service, a n

via Breaking Up Is Hard To Do | Law Enforcement Today.

WHEN IS IT WORTH STAYING? WHEN DO YOU WALK AWAY?

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Police Leadership: What’s on your mind, Chief?

fife

What’s on your mind, Chief?

Recently, while speaking with a sergeant from another jurisdiction about calling my Patrol Division lieutenant, he suggested that contact would be made over the radio.  The sergeant then asked; “What band is he on?”  Band?  I honestly have no idea.  I know that when I push the power button, the light comes on and I hear radio traffic.  Because I did not know the radio band, does that make me a bad chief?

Then I thought, well I bet the sergeant does not know the employee pension contribution percentage or the average overtime rate for determining expenditure allocations associated with state and federal grants.  While that allowed a temporary relief from the sting of the “radio band” debacle, I immediately realized the banality to this line of rationalization.

Truth is, the above illustration is not a completely accurate reflection of my response to this fine sergeant’s question, but it did prompt me to think.  I considered the various strata of professionally intimate knowledge and the organizationally relevant issues based on an individual’s path along the para-militaristic hierarchy.

AREAS OF FOCUS DEPEND ON DEPTH OF EXPERIENCE

Obviously our focus shifts through the years and responsibilities.  I was challenged by this to ask what is important to me as the chief of police.

As a patrol officer, I recited the criminal ordinances verbatim and communicated exclusively using the 10-code.  As an undercover agent, I knew precisely how many grams made an ounce, how many ounces made a pound and how many pounds made a kilo.

As a division commander, I was focusing less on the adrenaline-producing accounts of arrests, pursuits, and seizures, and more on budgeting, total quality management, and alternative scheduling solutions.  As we move up the ranks, time is spent wrestling less over arrests and more over the employees affecting them.

The areas of concern most important to me at this stage in my career are various, but the singular topic monopolizing my focus is the employees.  The challenge of investing in human capital yields the greatest institutional returns for you as the leader, for the individual officers in their quest to serve with dignity and longevity, and for the community in their desire to live unencumbered by the fear of victimization.

If employees knew the depth of consideration given to their safety, training, education, mentoring and general well-being, there would be plenty of crow to eat.  Obviously, how could they know?  Without the relational experiences as a senior law enforcement executive there is no substitute for understanding the objective perspective required for surveying the comprehensive nature of the organization as it relates to the employee.

TPD

EXPECTED versus EXPERIENCED

The difference in the expected and the experienced creates the traditionally adversarial nature of employee / employer relations leading most to view this fraternal caste system through a Marxist lenses.  The senior law enforcement executive becomes the oppressive bourgeois, while the proletariat officers bust butts as their labor is exploited as a commodity to be reassigned, promoted, transferred, and disciplined.  However unrealistic this analogy is, perception for some becomes their reality.

Breaching the institutional stratification of rank, assignment, classification or perception may be accomplished by articulating a clear organizational vision focused on equity of opportunity and ownership.  Will the rookie officer attend your command staff meetings?  Probably not, but if their voice is represented, then they become an invested resource for the institutional ideals and operations.

The truth is, while we care about the well-being of the individual and their ability to communicate on the proper radio band, our focus also considers the operational integrity and effectiveness of the organization.  This may segregate us from the rank and file, but objective distance is necessary for ensuring a sustainable natural balance of labor and demand contributing to long-term and productive employment.

Bridging this perceptual divide also promotes employee longevity as they balance a need for external motivators (fair compensation) and internal satisfiers (selfless service).  Is harmony achieved with increased pay that encourages employee’s retention?  Possibly for a brief period, until the next material purchase beyond their means, and then it is back to pay rate complaints.

It seems that every employee terminating their service is offered a job elsewhere making at least twice their law enforcement earnings.  Really?  I want a job like that.  Of course, most soon return because of their “love of the job.”  It is what we call unemployment.

Materialism does not create deeply committed careers in progressively challenging workplaces.  The luster of new vehicles wane as the miles accumulate, SWAT gear gets forgotten as the activations go fewer and farther between, and the reassignment to narcotics fails to satisfy because it doesn’t live up to what was learned watching “Training Day.”

The material and external appeals to self-satisfaction are temporary, and like forecasting the market or predicting the next YouTube video to go viral, law enforcement executives cannot continue guessing when the motivational rollercoaster will adversely affect the institutional core.  A sound foundation is laid when leaders focus attention to the internal motivators appealing to the altruistic nature of public service.

TPD Patch Fleur De Lis Graphic

Listen quietly as the chorus reigns down, “You cannot pay bills with altruism.”  No, but without an ethical anchor or altruistic attachment, meaningful institutional commitment fails to develop and diminishes the individual’s potential for meaningful long-term employment.

The contrasting of personal values creates fissures between the employee’s desire to serve and reasons to remain.  There are occupational points of departure when employees become disenfranchised with the altruistic ideals of duty, honor and service.

The socialization process of “becoming blue” includes the period when a new officer is introduced to the traditions, codes, and cultural expectancy of fraternal membership.

Researchers struggle to decode the mystery of the thin blue line, and their attempts end with mere speculations about what occurs behind the veil.  Peter Manning’s seminal research into the meaning and symbolism of police work describes the powerful mystification of policing as the “sacred canopy.”

Researcher Marjie Britz concluded after attempts to identify dynamics involved in the enculturation process that; “Traditional research in this area has suggested that the socialization process is so intense and the subculture so strong that individual characteristics are quickly overwhelmed.”  Top academics focusing on what makes us; us, can only venture about the informal processes creating such loyalty yet so much discontentment.

The years of research I invested for my doctoral dissertation focused on the occupational socialization of policing.  During this time I learned that the initial disenfranchisement from the organization begins once the individual joins the agency.  They immediately realize that the preconceived notions established through external influences, such as media and myth are in actuality not what policing involves.

The next major point of departure happens once the cadet graduates the academy.  Senior training officers fail to reinforce the lessons taught in the academy by encouraging the rookie to forget what they just learned there.  The senior officers impose their ideology of “not making waves” thus ensuring a continuation of the homogenous nature of the organizational ethos.

Chief-Scott-Silverii-PhD-Welcomes-you-to-the-Bright-Blue-Line.jpgThis further alienates the officer from the original altruistic motivators such as duty, honor, and service.  Homogeneity is critical to maintaining the status quo as evidenced by the lack of minorities and females throughout the classified ranks of the profession.

The combination of these stages produce the fully socialized officer who learns to acclimate to the occupational environment by embracing mediocrity for the sake of avoiding isolation from peers.  Police observer John Van Maanen captured the essence of the fraternal unity by stating: “Consequently, the police culture can be viewed as molding the attitudes, with numbing regularity, of virtually all who enter.”

My best observation for remedying the contrasts between what senior law enforcement executives want for their employees, and the perception employees have towards organizational altruistic ideals is found in the “why.”

Core commitment is not cultivated in the “what” or “how” things are done, but “why” we do it.  As it relates to addressing institutional investment, officers know how to do police work and what to do when situations arise requiring their services.  What they either never knew or forget over time is “why” they do police work.

Simon Sinek explains it succinctly in his work, and attaching meaning to their need for “why” establishes a cause greater than themselves, their pay, or their current condition.  The sense of sacrifice and service is as relevant today as ever.

It is incumbent upon us as leaders of our organizations to discover the voice for relaying this message to our employees and re-introduce them to the reasons they played cops as kids, admired them as teens and joined them as adults.

Police Leadership: What’s on your mind, Chief?

Chiefs, if you are wondering what you should be thinking about, please take note.  Catch them early in the career, do not overlook the significance of your influence and opportunity to meet with potential candidates, recently hired cadets, proud graduating rookies, and fully field trained officers.  Brief one-on-one moments spent sharing your vision and level of expected commitment burn an indelible image on the public service psyche of these officers.

Does “what” I think about matter?  Maybe not.  What does matter is “why” I think about it.  That is because we have been commissioned to grow the next generation of public servants, and without specificity of focus on the core tenants of sacrificial service, we remain numbingly regular and amazingly ineffective.  That’s why.

Police Leadership: What’s on your mind, Chief?

What do you think Chiefs should focus attention to?

About the Author

Scott Silverii, Ph.D. was appointed Chief of Police for the Thibodaux Police Department, Louisiana in January 2011, after serving 21 years for the nationally accredited Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office.  Chief Silverii began his law enforcement career in 1990 by serving in a variety of investigative and command assignments including twelve years undercover and sixteen years in SWAT.  A subject matter expert in data-driven approaches to crime and traffic safety, he was appointed to the IACP’s prestigious Research Advisory Committee.

Chief Silverii earned a Master of Public Administration and a Doctorate in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans, focusing his research on anthropological aspects of culture and organizations.  Chief Silverii can be contacted at scottsilverii@gmail.com, @ThibodauxChief, or Law Enforcement Today. 

Learn more about this article here:

Van Maanen, J. (1975). Police socialization: a longitudinal examination of job attitudes in an urban police department. Administrative Science Quarterly, 1975, 21.

Manning, P. (1980). Violence and the Police Role.  American Academy of Political and Social Science, 45(2), 19.

Britz, M. (1997).  The police subculture and occupational socialization: exploring individual and demographic characteristics. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 21(2)

Sinek, S. (2009).  Start with Why:  How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. Penguin Publishing Group, New York, NY.   ISBN: 978-1-101-14903-4,

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