*|MC_PREVIEW_TEXT|*Forgotten LEOs | Train like a team | Keeping names off the wall
May 18, 2022 | View as webpage | Too many emails? Update Subscription Preferences

Ask any law enforcement leader what keeps them up at night and you'll likely receive the same answer: staffing. Recruiting the next generation of LEOs has never been harder, causing agencies to rethink how they recruit as well as try to understand what their youngest officers want from their police careers.

In a recent Police1 article, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Jarrett Morris outlined eight things young cops want (compiled in a handy list for you to download) and what leaders can do about it. His list included a defined mission, ongoing conversations and the opportunity for personal development.

Young cops also want to work with new technology, and that starts on day one with training. We recently reported on how PDs are embracing virtual reality as a new police training tool and in a webinar tomorrow you can learn more about how the technology works and the benefits it can offer both your officers and your community.

Don't be left behind in the ongoing mission to hire the best and the brightest young officers. Providing top-notch training must be part of your recruitment strategy. RSVP for our VR webinar.

Stay safe,

— Nancy Perry
Editor-in-Chief, Police1
Are you taking care of your wounded officers?
By Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D. 

National Police Week has passed, and due honor has been given to those who died in the line of duty.

In 1961, President John Kennedy proclaimed:

"Congress, by a joint resolution, approved June 21, 1961 (75 Stat. 94), has designated the week of May 13-19, 1962, as Police Week in recognition of the contribution the police officers of America have made to our civilization through their dedicated and selfless efforts in enforcing our laws, and has also designated May 14th as Peace Officers Memorial Day in honor of the Federal, State, and municipal peace officers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty.”

Sadly, one of the least attended passages of this declaration is the part that is to honor officers who have been disabled in the line of duty. Not only is the plight of disabled officers sometimes invisible as a policy issue to be addressed, but the disabled officer can become invisible to the law enforcement family that once existed. Police leaders and influencers must be advocates for disabled police officers, both for those who hope to return to work and those who never will.

Leaders can provide pre-emptive education to officers

Both rookie and veteran police officers are aware that they may someday be called on to sacrifice their life. Few have seriously considered that they may be called on to live with chronic pain, mobility limitations, PTSD, or other traumatic and career-ending injuries.

Few enough officers have sufficient plans in place for their own death, much less for disability. Education in the realities of finances, insurance, leave time, retirement options and benefits can save time and grief for officers and their families.

Medical directives, organ donation and other end-of-life issues should be addressed. With the lower rate of marriage and the increase in cohabitation, officers cannot assume that their living partner will have any legal rights to visit, make decisions, or keep assets without prior legally binding agreements.

Leaders can develop a culture of continuing care

Keeping in touch with officers on extended leave or disability retirement can be a major boost to the wounded officer, and an important lesson on professional connections with working officers. Some agencies allow donating leave days to a pool for the wounded officer. Designating an officer, association, or auxiliary member to keep track of birthdays and anniversaries can help maintain consistent contact. Announcing those days at roll call can urge current officers to take the initiative to call or contact the absent officer. Inviting separated officers to events and ceremonies can also ease their fears of abandonment.

Leaders can keep aware of legislation affecting injured officers

More states are recognizing PTSD and other mental health issues among first responders by enlarging treatment and funding options. Federal legislation has been offered to exempt disabled officers from federal taxes, with similar proposals at the state level. Small victories are important to keep the needs of law enforcement in front of legislators and the public.

There is a lot of attention, deservedly so, for our military veterans and the quality of their life after service, especially for those wounded in combat. There should be no less honor or concern for the wounded from among those who serve on the streets of America.

NEXT: 6 things police leaders must do to improve officer wellness in 2022

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What leaders can learn about officer development from Michael Jordan
By Neal Collie 

A popular beverage commercial in the 1990s featured basketball legend Michael Jordan's nostalgic dunks and acrobatic moves on the court.

The advertising team capitalized on Jordan’s greatness by coining the phrase “Be Like Mike.” The commercial's jingle aimed at inspiring kids and young adults to mirror Jordan’s image so they, in turn, could be great as well. To this day, current basketball legends are still compared to Michael Jordan leading to debates as to who is the G.O.A.T. in N.B.A. basketball.

In law enforcement, similar comparisons are often made by supervisors when evaluating officers under their command. It usually involves comparing one officer with another using communication skills, appearance and attitudes as performance measures. We have all probably heard statements such as “I sure wish Officer X was more like Officer Y," or “You should be doing just as much as Officer X.” In other words, “Be Like Mike.”

Focus on your officers' skillsets

While we should be motivating our officers to perform well, we often go about the process in the wrong way. Instead of comparing officers with each other, we should focus on the skillset each individual officer brings to the table. We should encourage them to enhance those skills with more training and give them opportunities to use them.

If an officer enjoys performing self-initiated activities such as traffic stops or shows a strong interest in working cases involving impaired driving, traffic collisions and speed enforcement, then we should encourage that officer to seek out training that will make them more proficient in their jobs. This “push” can prepare them to fill vacant positions on specialized traffic enforcement units in the future.

If a patrol officer has a natural ability to investigate and solve cases, we should help guide that officer toward training to enhance their investigative and interview skills.

Some officers may be well-rounded and able to satisfactorily perform all the roles that are required of them as police officers but have a special way of interacting and engaging with adults and teenagers while out on patrol. These officers may excel in positions such as community resource officers or school resource officers.

Encourage training

We should encourage officers to seek out training. We should approve the training if it is feasible to do so, both financially and logistically. We should be open with officers as to what our expectations are if they attend the training. Do we expect more productivity from them with the new skills they’ve learned? Do we expect them to return from training and train other officers on what they’ve been taught?

If you’re not able to approve the training, explain to the officer why you can’t do so. This small gesture goes a long way toward maintaining good morale within the department.

Inspire the next generation of LEOs

When evaluating an officer’s performance, we should not compare the officer to the most experienced and productive officer on the squad. Remember that it takes a team to win. Michael Jordan didn’t win six national championships on his own, though he was the most productive statistically. The coach didn’t tell everyone in the locker room to “Be Like Mike.” Each player had a specific skill that they brought to the table, and the coach relied on each player’s skillset every day to be successful. We should seek out ways to motivate officers to become more productive and proficient on their own.

Looking back on that commercial, my takeaway is that the advertisers were not telling kids to “Be like Mike or you’ll not be successful,” rather, the intent was to inspire the younger generation to want to be great themselves. When you think about the young kids that watched those commercials and later became athletic stars themselves, I’d venture to say that it was a success. As leaders, we can learn from this logic and inspire our officers to be great as well.

NEXT: Building better officers: The importance of progression plans and rotational assignments

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spacer.gif Be Advised
3. 6 things to know about the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial: The Memorial has nearly 23,000 names engraved on its walls, dedicated each year in an annual candlelight vigil where more than 20,000 participants gather.

2. Slideshow: Police memorials around the country honor our nation's fallen LEOs: While each memorial is unique to its department and location, they all have one thing in common: to honor officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

1. ‘Keeping names off the wall’: How NLEOMF works to prioritize officer safety: NLEOMF's Troy Anderson speaks with Policing Matters podcast host Jim Dudley about how the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund works to improve officer safety in the field.
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