As I speak to law enforcement professionals around North America I continually hear people start a sentence (an excuse really) with the words “I am just a”. I am just a patrol officer, I am just a corporal, I am just a sergeant, I am just a trainer, I am just a Lieutenant, etc. What follows in an excuse why they cannot make a difference in their organization, an excuse why they are somehow not responsible for effecting a change in the culture of their organizations.
When I talk about the culture of an organization I am referring to shared beliefs, shared practices and shared attitudes. The Below 100 initiative by Law officer Magazine (www.below100.com)is about changing some of those shared beliefs, practices and attitudes. Specifically, changing the ones that are resulting in large numbers of officers being killed and injured every year in the line of duty. Shared beliefs, practices and attitudes about wearing seat belts, wearing body armor, driving speeds and complacency.
“You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you’ll get to tomorrow. Intention without action is useless.” Caroline Myss
It starts with you. Ghandi said “you must be the change you wish to see in the world. Start by watching Derek Sivers TED video on how to start a movement athttp://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement.html. Begin with yourself and model these desirable behaviors. If you do not wear your body armor every day, start a new ritual today of wearing your armor. If you do not wear your seat belt in your patrol vehicle, start a new ritual today of wearing your seat belt. If you are in the habit of driving too fast, slow down. If you find yourself sliding into an attitude of complacency, change your attitude and your habits. Then seek out one other person on your shift or in your agency to be what Sivers refers to as ‘the first follower’.
We must stop killing ourselves because we are driving too fast and neglecting to wear seat belts. In today’s world it is inexcusable for officers to go out on the street without wearing body armor. Recruits in the academy should be wearing body amor every day so it becaomes part of their daily rituatual. Trainers in the academy also need to be wearing amror every day to avoid sending the message that wearing armor is just a ‘recruit thing’.
As trainers you are in the best position to help influence the culture of your organization. The key is to stop making excuses, remove the words “I am just a” from your vocabulary and begin to take action.
Take the time to visit the Below 100 website at www.below100.com. Read the articles and download the posters and resources. We are working on scheduling a number of Below 100 Train the Trainer courses for the fall. I will keep you posted on dates and locations. If you are not based in the United States this initiative still applies to you. Cops around the world are being injured and killed in the same ways and these strategies are applicable to every law enforcement organization.