POLICE LEADERSHIP MATTERS – NOW MORE THAN EVER
For many years, leadership development has been a hot topic within the policing industry. In late 2014, President Obama convened a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, bringing together community activists, academics, policy makers and police chiefs to address the growing rift between law enforcement and the public. Underpinning the discussion was the need to cultivate the next generation of leaders, not only to mend police-community relations, but to help prepare officers for the impact of new digital technologies and evolving public safety threats.
But despite consensus regarding the need for leadership development in policing, implementation has proven difficult. To a certain extent, the problem is cultural. Law enforcement is a hierarchical industry in which rank carries enormous significance. In many police departments, leadership is considered the responsibility and privilege of high-ranking officers, leaving junior personnel to learn these critical skills through observation or osmosis. Unfortunately, this trickle-down approach doesn’t work in an action-oriented environment where officers must be prepared to make split-second, life-or-death decisions. In the middle of a domestic altercation or other field incident, police officers can’t pause to consult their watch commander.
Lack of prioritization also poses a problem for leadership development initiatives, which tend to take a backseat to more immediate tasks like patrols, protests and investigations. Most police departments treat education and training as separate from – or secondary to – routine operations, meaning that officers can go years without practicing crucial leadership competencies. When training does occur, it often focuses on new technology, procedures and other tactical elements of the job. Furthermore, current leadership curricula often rely on theory rather than real-life scenarios and challenges, which doesn’t make sense for officers who spend most of their time in the field.
Cost also presents a major obstacle, as many police departments have limited financial resources and may be reluctant to invest in “non-essential” programs.
So how can law enforcement agencies address these challenges and build a better paradigm for leadership development – one that balances legacy practices with the evolving realities of the industry?
Read More: http://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/2016/05/11/police-leadership-matters-now-more-than-ever/