Last week I had the privilege of speaking on the topics of Dare to Be Great, The Heroes Path to Excellence in Law Enforcement and Excellence in Training at the CPOA COPSWEST Training Conference. The three presentations were part of a series on Growing Leadership which was kicked off by Roy Bethge from The Virtus Group speaking about Growing Courage.
The first morning of the conference featured a panel discussion called A View From the Top. It featured Commissioner Joe Farrow of the California Highway Patrol, Sheriff Scott Jones from Sacramento County, Sheriff Jim McDonnell from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. and Chief Sandra Spagnoli from San Leandro Police Deptartment.
One of the questions asked referred to the Task Force on 21st Century Policing’s recommendations on Building Trust and Legitimacy. The question was, “How do you shift the police culture, as the report recommends, from the “Warrior” to the “Guardian” mindset in order to build community trust?”
Personally that recommendation frustrates me and indicates that the task force failed to understand the teachings around ‘The Warrior Spirit’ and the importance of that spirit in the law enforcement profession.
What I found very refreshing is that all the panel members stated that the terms were not mutually exclusive. The panel was of the opinion it is not either – or, they are both needed. Comments included:
- We need our people to have the Guardian Mindset and the Warrior Spirit.
- In law enforcement we require both the Warrior skill set and the Guardian mindset.
I find it interesting that Warrior Spirit is a core value of Southwest Airlines, one of the most talked about and respected brands in the business world, but it is a bad thing in law enforcement. It is cool to have middle school, high school, college and university teams named after warriors or with warrior in the title, but it is a bad thing in law enforcement. You cannot watch a professional basketball, football or hockey game without the announcers using the term “warrior” to infer positive attributes to a team or player. In the TV commercials for the World Cup of Rugby they talked about the athletes as warriors. All of these uses of the term ‘Warrior’ are acceptable, but to imply that law enforcement officers have the ‘Warrior Spirit’ is a bad thing.
The Warrior Spirit is about honor, integrity, courage, sacrifice, service, professionalism, humility, empathy and selflessness. These are honorable traits and a critical part of the law enforcement profession.
What is needed is a clarification of the Warrior Spirit, not a vilification.
I have made it my mission now to clarify what the Warrior Spirit means, why it is important and why it is critical to those who serve as Guardians. I invite you to join this mission of clarification and understanding.
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