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Friday, June 26, 2009

Learning from Tragedy - Really

When anything goes wrong, it creates a unique opportunity to detect flaws covertly embedded in the various environments of an organization. This is because law enforcement tends to be reactive (rather than proactive) and outcome focused (rather than process focused). That is to say, unless something goes wrong to the point of costing the organization something, “No harm—no foul.” In other words, if I typically talk to others in a rude and condescending manner, as long as no complaints are substantiated, and no law suits are harmfully adjudicated - the behavior tends to be ignored. The problem with ignoring destructive attitudes and behaviors is this: whatever you don’t address, you encourage. Unaddressed behavior becomes a psychological and social contract with much more influence than the organization’s stated policies that are not uniformly enforced. If someone is rude and condescending and it is not addressed, it actually becomes a flaw in the social environment of the organization and creates a link to a potential catastrophe. Doing an environmental system root-cause analysis evaluation does not imply that officers have no personal accountability for their behaviors. On the contrary, if one of the problems lie in the anima (integrity) of the individual, this individual must be invested in, in terms of mentoring, training, and support; then, if or when called for, dealt with decisively and be graciously allowed to find a profession that does not demand high character (as does law enforcement)! This is a critical issue! Here is my experience: often, when commanders hear of a root cause or environmental analysis process, they hear, “Oh, you are making excuses for the officer—you are helping them to avoid personal accountability.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Identifying systemic problems and self-deceptions embedded into the organization is all about accountability! Someone IS accountable for systemic failure at each level, and that is exactly what commanders do not want exposed. If your organization is unwilling to put the performance and decision making of all members up for scrutiny, you might as well click this blog off, and cease to waste your time. If you want to know how to really learn from tragedy and create enduring proactive systems to avert future tragedies, post a response and stay tuned – see how to unleash the power of unconditional respect!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Assumptive Thought Base

We automatically tend to assume the following:

  • The way I see something is the way it is.
  • The way I feel about someone is the way he or she is.
  • The way I remember an event is the way it was.
  • If you disagree with me, you are stupid, a liar, or psychotic.

The irony is that this assumptive thought base (all problems and misunderstandings are external to me) IS the apex of self-imposed ignorance, deception, and even psychosis (disconnection from reality). Probably the only reason it is not considered pathological is that it is endemic.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

NYPD - Double Tragedy

The recent shooting of an off duty black officer by an on duty white officer in New York is a double tragedy for the NYPD. First the shooting death, second in the fact that what should be a time of grief and mourning has become a time of open hostility. What can be learned to proactively avoid this type of tragedy in the future? First, training philosophy; nothing in any field of study supports the idea that during a tense, uncertain, rapidly evolving circumstances any one will do what you TOLD them in in-service a few months ago. Training for this type of event must be universal (everyone on the organization receives the same training). AND it must be designed in a manner to be practical and become reflexive. To do this, training must be repeated regularly and continuously with short training intervals during roll call. The stakes are too high to do otherwise. Second, organizational social environment; “ The profession of law enforcement requires an personal anima (inner way of being) that sees all people as people, is rooted in integrity and expressed as unconditional respect for all.” If an organization allows condescending, and disdainful attitudes, words and actions it becomes a subversive social contract. This subversive contract creates a smoldering bed of turmoil that will flash into a raging fire with a spark of tragedy. Each organization must begin to take responsibility to develop the integrity of its members and the social environment within.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Who wants to be dirty...really?

Officers who claim being respectful is dangerous are really just looking for evidence to justify the fact that they daily violate their own since of right and wrong by treating people poorly. This same process of justification also allows one to blow off time at the range or skip workouts to make up the couple of hours of sleep one missed because of mindless activities like watching television. It may make an officer “feel” safer to posture and be verbally harsh to a subject, but this feeling is merely a byproduct of a deep and dangerous self-deception. Unfortunately, a truly capable opponent can see right through posturing and recognize an easy target. It is non-sensical to think excessive posturing will intimidate those who pose the greatest threat to our safety. Posturing only scares the people who are least likely to assault us in the first place. The irony is that when they become afraid, it increases even their chance of fighting us. I think one fundamental reason behind the inclination to embrace the "Dirty Harry" mentality is that it provides an illusion of safety and security, which becomes one more justification for treating others poorly. Respect is not only often equated with softness, but also with vulnerability. Most officers deal with feelings of vulnerability by one of two means—disengagement, or over-compensation in the form of directing anger and disdain toward others. Because the former (disengagement) is unaccepted in the police culture, the latter (anger and contempt) becomes the social norm.