The value of complete public transparency

We must understand that the one way to not be audio- or videotaped acting badly is to act professionally at all times

By now you have probably seen — or at least heard about — the videotape posted on YouTube that shows the N.J. father who audio-taped his autistic son being bullied by teachers and aides in school.

This video has gone viral and created quite a buzz on the national news circuit.

Kathy Mangold has addressed this issue on the Verbal Defense & Influence blog in a posting entitled Heroes and Monsters that contrasts professional conduct of the teacher who received the Teacher of the Year Award from President Obama and the actions of the teachers and aides described by the N.J. father.

Rodney King: The Pivot Point of Video
What’s amazing to me is the contrasting comments from teacher organizations that run the gamut from shock and condemnation to comments about how being audio- or videotaped as being too intrusive and somehow harmful to good teaching practices.

I might suggest that teachers should learn what law enforcement officers learned about being audio- or videotaped in the course of their duties. In a free society, a public servant needs to understand that their behavior on duty is subject to public scrutiny, as well as, public reporting and review.

Dr. Thompson — who died last year — was the founder and president of the Verbal Judo Institute. For 28 years he fought the battle to professionalize law enforcement. He talked about the need to understand the concept of Complete Public Transparency. He explained that there are no more dark alleys or dark classroom, for that matter, where we can hide misconduct. Professionalism is mandated and misconduct is no longer hidden and kept from public review.

Dr. Thompson explained, "Although the change had already begun more than 20 years ago, after the global media frenzy of the Rodney King Video, it has now exploded into an era of complete public transparency."

He continued, "At no time in history has police business been more public. Police response, both appropriate and improper, is no longer just caught on the front page of a newspaper or on television. Police business is now the posted on YouTube where thousands — even millions of people — watch it over and over again."

Our actions are now immortal and capable of being viewed forever on the Internet. This is one of the major differences in police work from a decade ago. Never before has the need for professional police conduct been more important. You need to look good and sound good or no good. We, the police, need to act, talk, and be more professional than ever before. Our personal and professional survival demands it.

The New Normal
This concept applies not only to the police but all public employees. Our message to teachers and public employees and, for that matter, all professionals is that they need to understand that audio- and videotaping is here to stay. Internet websites and national news programs are going to cover misconduct.

Get over it.

Understand that the one way to not be audio- or videotaped acting badly is to act professionally at all times. We train our officers that getting audio- and/or videotaped is a good thing. It is one more way of proving what a great job you did.

Looking at this issue a different way, if you don’t want to be seen on YouTube, do a great job. Videos of professionals doing a great job don’t usually produce virile videos. Videos of professionals acting badly do. As Joel Lashley — a good friend and fellow trainer — likes to say, “No one talks about the 100,000s of planes that land safely every day, but everyone talks about the one that crashed.” 

Professionals who do a great job often fly under the radar which is a safe place to be.

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