Serve and Protect

Law enforcement is a service profession. Service is simple. It is an attitude of seeing needs and meeting those needs.

A police officer’s job description always includes a phrase similar to, “and other duties as assigned.” This phrase exists because there is no way to estimate or predict the situations that officers will find themselves in, including opportunities to serve.

In my first police job in a smaller town, one of the duties was to turn the city Christmas lights on at 5:00 p.m. and off again at 1:00 a.m. I never heard a cop grumble about having to do that job, and I figured out why on the first snowy night I lit them, they sure looked pretty. That job added value to the community, so we took ownership of it.

Over the years, police officers from all over have found themselves shoveling sidewalks, changing light bulbs, buying hamburger and bread, reading to students, and meeting with neighborhood groups. These are things that some would say are not even real police work, but these are the essence of service. They are real police work.

These acts of service add value to the community. You as a police officer must constantly be asking yourself, how can I add value to my community today?

Law enforcement, true to its name, is also an enforcement profession. Even more than a job, law enforcement carries the duty that we police to put ourselves in harm’s way for our community. It also carries the duty to hold people accountable for their actions, regardless of personal relationships.

Service adds value to the community, enforcement adds legitimacy.

Most communities stand for something and it is fair to say that most citizens value safety. This value is not legitimate unless the police are willing to enforce the laws impartially and capably. We must be prepared to stand the gap between harmful and illegal behavior and our community, not for our own glory or pleasure, but for the sake of the community and support of its values.

Epic Influence

Think of the people who influence you most in your life.  Now, think of the one person who, although they are no longer in your life (maybe they have retired, moved away or even died) still affect your decisions.

The person you should be thinking about is that person that even though they are no longer in your life, you still wonder, “How would __________ handle this?”  This is the ultimate respect, to allow someone who is no longer even present in your life to influence your decisions and behaviors.  This is epic influence.

If you desire to be an influencer of epic proportions, you desire to have character and values that are reflected through attitude over skill.  Usually the values and character traits that people describe about epic influenceers include traits like, honest, hard working, caring, diligent, intelligent, listener, is approachable, and on and on.  These values that foster the ultimate respect are not shaped by skill, but by attitude.  Attitude is the key to epic influence.

It starts with where you are at.  Everyone has a position in every system and environment they exist in.  I am not talking about rank, but the position from which you operate from in a system or environment.  Imagine that, you are put places you belong in order to influence your environment.  The environment may be private, like a relationship or family, or it may be public like a workplace or culture.  Either way, you are right where you are supposed to be and you have the ability to positively (or negateively, but I won’t dwell on that) influence your environment and the people around you.

If respect and influence relies on traits reflected through attitude, the best place to start is the attitude you have towards others where you work, live and play.  People respond to kindness and caring.  Epic influencers understand that without cooperation, there is no influence.  The way to foster cooperation is to cooperate yourself.  An attitude of kindness and cooperation goes a long way in fostering the trust necessary for respect to develop.  Be kind to people.

Considering that you are in a particular time and place to be a catalyst for influence, you need to ask yourself how you are making your environment a better place for others.  Those who are willing to yield to influence, yield for several reasons.  After kindness, people want comfort.  Epic influencers understand their environment.  They understand what is going well and what could stand some improvement.  Epic influencers seek to constantly improve their environment for the good of the whole system or organization over individuals.  Think of it like a fishtank.  When the fish are well fed and swimming in clean water with all kinds of interesting things in their environment, they thrive. Create a clean, safe and engaging environment and you will earn respect.

Eventually, the people you are influencing will wonder how they are better off as an individual because you are there.  Epic influencers seek to make the people around them better.  This too is an attitude.  Choose to be encouraging and engaging and people will respond.  Make a decision to help improve those aorund you.  You too will improve and respect is gained.  Epic influencers seek to have the strongest and brightest people around them and will not hesitate to help make those around them the strongest and brightest, even at their own expense.

Each of us is called to influence our environment and the people around us.  How are you becoming an epic influencer?