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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Embrace Warriorship

*A letter to the officers of the Aurora Police Department:

I attended training in Bloomington-Normal this week put on by the Illinois Law-Enforcement Training and Standards Board Executive Institute. On the 2nd day of the conference, I sat on a Chief’s panel and was asked a question about police perception and if police actually need to improve or if we simply need to work at altering the public's perception of us.

The answer is both. There is a reason we are getting slammed in the headlines and although the media is slanted in the anti-police direction (understatement), there are officers out there who are making all of us look bad. Period.

The Aurora Police Department is not in the news. Our excellent training division incorporates deescalation and restraint into mandatory training and because "you play like you practice", we don't have officers shooting people in the back as they run away.

We as a profession have to be able to police ourselves and sometimes that means looking at the actions of other police officers and acknowledging that a bad outcome was the result of poor decision-making. Policing is as much of an art as it is a science. That means using all the tools given to you (including your human influence) to achieve the best possible outcome. Identifying and predicting human behavior patterns and choosing a course of action within the confines of the United States Constitution is not easy. It’s the opposite of easy. But you do it with excellence every day.

Despite the Aurora Police Department not making the headlines, we are still painted with a broad brush and the actions of one bad cop tarnishes all of our badges. Although it is unfair, the negative perception is real so we must commit to building trust with our citizens one contact at a time. You didn’t cause this mess, but you have the power to change hearts and minds by engaging our citizens.

There is a big debate going on in law enforcement about guardians versus warriors and how the latter adds to the negative public perception. I was asked about it on the panel and want to share my viewpoint with you.

You will spend the majority of your shift acting as guardians to the City of Aurora. You will solve problems and you will enforce laws so there is order in our neighborhoods and our citizens can live peacefully. Most of you have learned by now that it’s a waste of time and energy to demand respect and instead have figured out that by giving respect freely, you earn it naturally. Respect is earned by looking at people and not down on them.

Throughout your tour of duty, there is no doubt that you will show empathy and compassion to many individuals and those acts of altruism will never make headlines. But you will do it anyway.

So make no mistake — you are guardians.


However, there will be moments where you will have no choice but to transform into a warrior. You are the first line of defense in our city and when there is someone who threatens the peace and safety of our citizens, you must embrace the warrior mindset and run towards the gunfire. You will put yourself in harm's way and risk your own life because you are police officer. It.is.who.you.are.

The warrior mindset is what sets you apart from those who don’t wear a uniform and without it, there would be no one to fight the evil that exists. Being a warrior is not a bad thing as long as those skills are applied with good purpose. We cannot shy away from the notion that there will be times where we have to use force to subdue a person whose intent is to harm others. As long as force is applied within the parameters of the law and without excess, you won’t find yourself standing alone.

A true warrior fights only to protect and the greatest skill of all is to subdue the offender without violence. That should always be our goal. But I refuse to pander to the negative perception of warriorship and deny that side of us because there have to be people willing to go where others will not.

The answer is that we are both guardians and warriors so embrace and hone the skills of both.

10 comments:

David Couper said...

Nice job here, Chief! Very proud of you and your willingness to lead with your (and your department's) VALUES!

Jim Bennett said...

From one Chief to another.... WELL SAID !!!!

25sam16 said...

Great blog Chief. You explain both aspects of the warrior/guardian well. It sounds like you lead your department to develop the right mindset and rely on training, which will be the most effective tactic and easiest to defend.
"We are what we repeatedly do" (Aristotle)

Winston Rogers said...

Thank you, Chief, for this! Even though I am a dispatcher I have often been called anti-police for condemning the actions of officers whose behavior does not reflect the oath they took.

David Devenney said...

No, if you even have to ask the question you are on the wrong page. As a former cop and veteran I am never tempted to confuse the roles. The street can be harrowing and demanding and can be injurious both physically and mentally but it is not combat. Be . The best Guardian you can be and leave being a 'Warrior' to those who have been trained and baptised into the role. With respect.

Tommy Ostrowski said...

THE WAY YOU THINK, IS WHAT IS RIGHT WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT, WHAT IS GOING TO CHANGE LAW ENFORCEMENT AND IS THE TEXTBOOK ANSWER TO ENFORCING LAWS. YOUR ALWAYS SPOT ON AND THE WAY YOU THINK IS JUST RIGHT

James Agee said...

Great post, Chief. If you haven't already, I suggest you read the book "The Heart and the Fist" by Eric Greitens. He is a former SEAL and currently a candidate for Governor of Missouri. Among my favorite passages from his book is, "What makes SEALs special is that we can be thoughtful, disciplined, and proportional in our use of force. Years later, in Iraq, I’d see a group of Rangers blow through a door behind which they believed was an al Qaeda terrorist, take aim at the terrorist, assess that he was unarmed, and then fight him to the ground and cuff his hands behind his back. They did this while other Rangers, at the same time, in the very same room, positioned themselves over a sleeping Iraqi infant girl to protect her and then gently picked her up and carried her to an Iraqi woman in another part of the house. As Earl [Greitens's boxing coach at Duke] used to say, “Any fool can be violent.” Warriors are warriors not because of their strength, but because of their ability to apply strength to good purpose."

I've been policing for 27 years and I'm sure you'll agree that situations like he described have occurred in both our communities with regularity. Be strong, but be honorable. You can't have one without the other.

Tony Moreno said...

Nice letter, Chief. I appreciate you being openminded.

I have been retired for 8 years now and involved in law enforcement the past 40 years having spent 32 years with the LAPD. I have written three books and currently conduct training to law enforcement and my most popular class currently is entitled "Dealing with the Ferguson Effect".

The truth is that "warrior" and "guardian" are just two of the many roles a cop on the frontline must take on. The officer wears many hats and what makes one officer more effective than the other is the ability to think on your feet and apply the most appropriate role to a particular situation. To assume that everyone presses a button on their uniform and goes in the field as a warrior or a guardian tries to simplify a very complex job. it's just not that simple.

Also, de-escalation is presented as some sort of "new" philosophy being offered to law enforcement. When I was in the academy in 1975, I was taught that whenever you can, you talk your suspect to jail. And thousands of years ago, Sun Tzu is quoted as saying "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." Hardly a new and unique concept.

I respect you and your position but the much of law enforcement's management across the country is catering to public opinion and that is not serving the "entire community". it is also alienating the troops on the frontline and the law-abiding citizens are the ones that lose with this mess being created.

Feel free to check out my website at www.gangcop.com and/or contact me if you'd like to discuss this even further.

Best wishes to you and the members of your department.

diana said...

Admin, if not okay please remove!

Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to cancer.org, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.

www.teespring.com/prostate-cancer-research

Thanks

Vanessa J. Gilliam said...

Admin, if not okay please remove!

Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to cancer.org, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.

www.teespring.com/prostate-cancer-research

Thanks