Saturday, November 20, 2010

Unleashing the Power of Adversarial Perspectives

Some estimate that we self-talk (internal dialogue) at a rate of about 1200 words per minute. Given that, most self-talk takes the form of personal justifications (why I am right) and external blaming (reasons why others who are not completely useful to my rightness are wrong) it is little wonder that it is often said; “healthy people talk to themselves, unhealthy people listen to themselves.” In other words, all you have to do to hear a constant stream of personal justifications and external blame (which has the affect of destroying true; self-awareness, environmental awareness, responsiveness to others and thus relationships) is to fail to talk to yourself.

One example of effective self-talk is intentional valuing. Once I am humble enough to admit to myself that my ceaseless, natural internal dialogue (1200 WPM) is anesthetizing, blinding and destructive I come to value alternative and adversarial perspectives. I create an intentional value system that covets alternative/adversarial perspectives of those around me. I come to see adversarial perspectives as the best hope I have of breaking my natural proclivity to self-deceive.

This is counterintuitive so let us try an analogy. I have a friend for whom squirrels became a great source of loss and frustration. The squirrels would make nests in her car engine compartment and chew up the vehicle wiring harness, causing hundreds of dollars in damage, overnight! Imagine (the rest of this is pretend) if the damages became so repetitive that she could no longer afford to fix her car. As a result, she lost her job and was unable to pay her bills or even buy food. Eventually her hunger and deprivation caused her to begin to see the annoying squirrels as a source of nourishment. Now she studies the squirrels, discovers how to harvest them, clean them, prepare them and consumes them. Now she receives vital nourishment from what had previously been nothing more than a costly annoyance. Besides being nourished and strengthened, while harvesting and cleaning the squirrels she learns to be more aware of her physical surroundings and is thus safer.

Here is a critical point: The friend would not become a squirrel, by ingesting squirrel – rather the squirrels provide nourishment and strength as long as they continue to present themselves to her. If the squirrels leave the area, my friend looses the annoyance, but she also looses the nourishment.

We should learn to value alternative perspectives like squirrels. The adversarial perspective, once an annoyance, can become a source of nourishment and strength. Nourishing my situational awareness and thus strengthening my effectiveness. I must discover the best way to proactively capture alternative perspectives, clean them, prepare them and ingest them. I will not become or adopt the adversarial perspective by ingesting it; it will rather nourish and strengthen me!

Consider a recent training session where two women (not police department employees) who live in the inner city attended. These women had a rather adversarial perspective of the police. In a nutshell (pun intended), they saw the police as uncaring about the many tragic homicides. They also saw the police as oppressively consumed with mindless enforcement of minor traffic ordinances. As the women spoke, you could see the anger and disdain spread across the L.E. attendees (these members work hard and have the best of intentions the anger was rooted in fear). This adversarial perspective was consuming the wiring harness off the engine of self-justification. L.E. members predictably shunned and isolated the women during breaks, talking about them with hushed tones of contempt. On the third day, however (after “getting out of the box”) the women shared a similar adversarial perspective. But in contrast, during break, several L.E. members gathered around the women, leaned forward and were listening! The L.E. members had apparently begun to value the adversarial perspective. To the extent members “cleaned, prepared and consumed” the adversarial perspective their situational awareness was dramatically increased and their effectiveness was strengthened. They did however not become squirrels.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chip Weighs in on the "Warrior" Discussion

Every so often, I find myself speaking to someone who questions what it truly means to be a Warrior. I am sure there are many different images that come to mind when you hear someone referred to in that light. Is the running back who rushes for 1000 yards in a single season a Warrior? How about the Heavy Weight Boxing Champion who wins most of his bouts by knockout, or the MMA fighter who is undefeated?

"Bushido" means "way of the warrior," and the word "Samurai" literally means "one who serves." On the surface at least, a solider or police officer must surely qualify for the title. Does graduating the police academy or completing basic training make one a Warrior? Perhaps....

Let's consider this from another perspective: Trained mechanics know how to change the oil in a car. I know how to change the oil in a car. Does that qualify me to call myself a mechanic? Certainly not. I am missing practically all of the other skills necessary to deserve that title. Using that logic, is it possible that one can fight and even serve others, without being a Warrior? I offer that someone can be an extremely skilled fighter or a selfless public servant without being a Warrior. So, what then is the difference?

Physical competence is very important. I think a Warrior must be skilled in combat and properly conditioned. She must be able to protect others and have the confidence to face deadly threats. The Warrior doesn't have to fight, but she must be prepared to do so if the need arises. I think a Warrior must have mental clarity. He must know what he can do and be astutely aware of his limitations and options. The Warrior understands that battles are won or lost in the preparation. A Warrior should have a spiritual certainty that permits him to lay down his life in the service of others. These things are all critical to Warriorship, but they are not unique to the Warriors among us. There is another, invaluable ingredient.

The true Warrior understands that the most important battle to be fought is an internal one, and the foe is extremely formidable. The Warrior's battle is the battle against his own fears, biases, prejudices and loyalties that prevent him from acting for what is right. It is a battle against self. A Warrior respects the humanity of all persons and, as a result, respects their adversarial potential as well as their individual rights. The Warrior is tactically and interpersonally effective. The ideal balance of compassion, love, virtue and viciousness. A Warrior faces ALL her fears, both internal and external.

The path of the Warrior is not for the feint of heart. Some of the attributes appear soft on the surface, but nothing could be further from the truth. Many people are at war with the notion of valuing the humanity of others. I was for a long time, and I continue to struggle with it everyday. The battlefield is in our hearts and minds, and the true Warrior exists for the fight....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Legacy of Excellence Conference in Calgary Canada

A couple of weeks ago Chip and I had the privilege of presenting our “Foundations” material at the Legacy of Excellence Conference in Calgary Canada. Brian Willis of Winning Mind Training, hosted and managed the conference extremely well and provided top-notch training. I could tell that the conference is truly a labor of love for Brian and his family!

One of the presenters was kind enough to provide in-depth feedback regarding “Foundations.” A couple of his comments had me thinking deeply for a couple of days before I responded. His concern arose after talking to a couple of younger officers over breakfast the day after our presentation. One concern regarded a need to provide the base motivation for participants, namely “What’s in it for me” WIIFM. The second concern surrounded the fact that Chip and his experience as an S.W.A.T. team leader presented him as practically superhuman and therefore irrelevant to the average officer. Below is a paraphrase of my response, which I thought was worth posting on the blog.

Without a doubt, WIIFM – has been a long standing lever, for our western culture generally and L.E. specifically. WIIFM is a holdover from carrot and stick management practices that are Newtonian in concept and output. (You only get out of something – an amount equivalent to what you are able to put into it). Current research proves this to be true (Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us – Daniel Pink, Predictably Irrational – Daniel Ariely, Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior – Ori and Rom Brafman) all support the same idea. If you appeal to the selfish / pleasure centers of the human brain, you shut down the altruistic center. The altruistic center is where Chip and I want to appeal and work! That is where our profession desperately needs to be. We are calling for a “Revolutionarily Traditional way of being police in the 21st century.” Revolutionary - because we call for a break from the current ME – ME - ME cultural mindset we live under. Traditional - in that we appeal to time-honored concepts of self-sacrificing service for a noble cause, much more inspiring and greater than our own myopic self absorbed, self-glutting motivations. We are pursuing quantum, synergistic, viral, rapid, deep change and outcomes. We can only get there by appealing to the altruistic centers of the brain and heart. If the officers you talked to did not see WIIFM, Chip and I did indeed fail them and for that I am truly sorry, not because we did not cover WIIFM, but because we left them thinking that way!

Please see these blog posts for more thoughts on this: -

As far as Chip not being, a “mere mortal” remember his stories of being a “recovering coward” and an “abject failure as a father”. What others are seeing is the natural outcomes of the quadrants – decisiveness with humility and empathy = synergy (discovering and unlocking the power of existing structure and order to accomplish critical mission – as opposed to always trying to control and subdue the differences and variances we encounter). To the casual observer, this appears superhuman. In reality, the outcomes are merely the exponential results that spontaneously erupt when unconditional respect for others releases their efforts and potential around the mission.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chip's Review of Force Science Institute Certification Course

I (Chip) recently had the opportunity to attend the Force Science® Institute Certification Course hosted by the San Jose, California Police Department. I cannot say enough good things about the quality of the instructors and the curriculum. The training was informative, thought provoking, and delivered in an extremely professional and digestible fashion.

The 5-day course began with opening remarks by Dr. Bill Lewinski, founder and director of the Force Science® Research Center and the Force Science® Institute, Ltd., which is a research, consulting and training organization focused primarily on human behavior in use-of-force situations. Dr. Lewinski’s passion for law enforcement was evident during his heartfelt opening statements, these comments set the tone for the weeklong course.
My fellow attendees and I received lectures by some of the best educators and practitioners in the areas of Psychophysiology, Neuro-Anatomy, Human Performance, Post Trauma Interviewing, Kinesiology and Legal Implications. Dr. Matthew Sztajnkrycer taught a block of instruction titled “Understanding & Leveraging the Psychophysiology of Emotional Intensity,” which dealt with fear, the arousal response and physiological and psychological changes experienced during moments of peak stress. Dr. Joan Vickers, a Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, Alberta, lectured the group on several aspects of Neuro-Motor Psychology. The most fascinating aspect of Dr. Vickers presentation dealt with a perception-action variable she calls “The Quiet Eye.” She was able to deftly apply lessons learned from working with elite athletes to decision-making scenarios officers are faced with during deadly force encounters. Mr. Chris Lawrence, a charter member of the Technical Advisory Board for the Force Science® Institute with over 30-years of law enforcement experience led a discussion on the Fundamentals of Human Performance. This talk outlined basic principles regarding human response capacity. Lawrence supported the content with empirical research and appropriately related the findings to post use of force incident investigation. Dr. Edward Geiselman, Professor of Psychology at UCLA and co-developer of the Cognitive Interview Technique®, shared memory-enhancing techniques for investigative interviewing. Based on scientifically derived principles of memory and communications theory, Geiselman applied these interviewing techniques to the analysis of actual police interviews. This system is relatively easy to train and implement and has been proven to reliably increase the amount of information obtained during an interview. Clinical Forensic Psychologist Dr. Anthony Pinizzotto, formerly of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, shared the results of 20-years of research into officer safety. The lessons learned by Dr. Pinizzotto and his team of researchers during interviews with hundreds of officers and suspects are invaluable to law enforcement. Dr. Lewinski returned to the podium periodically throughout the week to summarize the material presented by the other speakers. He also spent a great deal of time helping the class to understand the Biomechanics of Deadly Force Encounters. He utilized real-life case studies, video analysis, and actual research conducted by the Institute to demonstrate the effects of human factors and environmental features that press upon law enforcement officers who are engaged in deadly force decision-making processes. Finally, Mr. John Hoag, Esq., owner of the law firm Snyder and Hoag, LLC, lectured on Post-Shooting Policy and Legal Implication. The information gleaned from Mr. Hoag provided legal validation for operationalizing the scientific principles we had been learning all week.

The course was extremely challenging, but a whole lot of fun—especially if you enjoy learning from the best. Each participant was required to pass a comprehensive written examination—one of the tougher ones I have taken in my law enforcement career—and take part in a group case study, which was presented to the staff and fellow students on the last day of the course. I had a great time, which was made better by a surprise appearance by my good friend Dr. Alexis Artwohl, co-author of Deadly Force Encounters ( Alexis stopped by for a couple of days to help the groups prepare for their case study presentations. Alexis, Josh Lego, and my new friend, Felipe Gonzalez of the New Mexico State Police, had the opportunity to eat lunch together and reflect on the lessons we learned during the course—as well as share a few laughs. This course is a MUST for anyone involved in use of force policy-making, training, and investigation. I encourage all administrators to consider the this invaluable content provided by Dr. Lewinski’s team of experts. The knowledge garnered from this course has the power to save lives, careers and operating budgets!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Fear Has Lost its Value and Has Become a Liability (But don't tell anyone)

Fear or intimidation as a primary law enforcement tool has a long distinguished past. Because of that, when the tactic is challenged one will hear things like, “It’s the way we have always done it” - “It has always worked in the past” – “You have to intimidate ‘these kind of people’, it’s all they understand.”
Unfortunately, empirical support for these statements can be found, fear does produce results because it is the core emotion. As Seth Godin correctly states in Linchpin; “Fear dominates the other emotions, because without our ability to avoid death, the other ones don’t really matter much.” (p. 124)
For all these reasons, and many others, fear as a tactic is difficult to give up on. Law enforcement for generations past engraved the “social contract” manual of fear and intimidation into each succeeding generation, the cement has dried. One ought not to blame the line element officers for using fear as a tactic. Fear and intimidation has always been the favorite management tool of police commanders. It is the old “carrot and stick” regimen of gaining compliance. This is what officers have been taught and seen modeled since day one of their careers.
Fear and intimidation still reigns as the primary management tactic, and policing tactic, to this day. Regardless of the fact, the tactic itself has ceased to be a resource and has become a liability. This is especially true in a day of budget cutbacks, when we most need cooperation and synergy with our community to solve complex problems. Ironically, those on the outside of law enforcement, who would to change the culture, rely on the same fear and intimidation tactics; see the absurdity? Those who most resent the social contract of fear and intimidation – blindly use the same tactic to change the contact! Of course, all they do is strengthen the contract.
My point is this; we probably have dangerous cities with high crime rates because fear and intimidation as a tactic no longer works. The “wolves” are not intimidated – the vast majority of community members who would otherwise be partners, eyes and ears ARE. The “wolves” on one side and police “snarling sheep dogs” on the other side. I was recently speaking with a colleague who supervises a homicide squad. He told of a shopping cart with two decomposing bodies sitting in a neighborhood for days, a trail of blood leading to the “wolves” house who had perpetrated the murders. Not only did no one call police, no one “knew anything” during an area canvass. The military would call this a pro-insurgency environment. In other words, the social context of the neighborhood is such that the insurgents (criminals, drug dealers and gang members) are having their way. This is because in a fear based social environment (just to name a few of the more obvious ones):
· There can be no trust
· Safe, open, honest communication will not exist
· Creative solutions to complex problems will never emerge
· Everyone dodges accountability out of a sense of survival-blame shifting is normative
· Wolves move about with impunity doing what wolves do
We will soon reach a logical conclusion for the 9-1-1 hamster wheel. The final step is real time crime analysis, so we can be where the victims of crime are BEFORE they call to report the crime. Police will have reduced reaction time as low as possible. Law enforcement will hit a natural ceiling; we can no longer react to the tragic results of fear and intimidation as a tactic any quicker. Then what?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Deadly Sexism – Deadly Ageism – Deadly Racism

I have been fond of saying, “Our judgments of others are somewhere between irrelevant and dangerous. Rather than judging others, we must learn to be aware of, and responsive to, their full human potential for good, and evil.”

After a brief chance conversation with some colleagues, I am changing my position:
“Our judgments of others are somewhere between irrelevant and “deadly.” We must constantly confront our natural subconscious prejudices, biases, fears and loyalties, which generate our judgments of others so that we can be aware of their full human potential for good and evil, and be equipped to properly interpret and respond to their behavior in the context of the situation.”

Let me set the context. I was talking with a friend in the hallway of the academy when an officer came from a seminar we were hosting regarding officer survival. The instructors were using data from the FBI LEOKA (Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted) studies. The officer was beside himself regarding two separate incidents the class had highlighted where officers apparently ignored a male subject’s girlfriend. In each case, the girlfriend was able to obtain a weapon and kill officers. The point of the training seemed to be - honor female cohorts’ adversarial worth.

My mind instantly began reeling with another video I have seen of a Texas DPS Trooper stopping a motorist for not wearing a seat belt. The motorist pulls into the median strip to stop. A lone white man who was 72-years old at the time emerges from the driver’s seat and produces an assault rifle. The motorist walks toward the officer brandishing the assault rifle. Approximately 8 seconds passed with the brandished weapon in plain view and approximately 5 seconds passed after the man is standing within a few yards of the trooper pointing the assault rifle at the trooper before the man fires the first round from the assault rifle (ignoring repeated orders to put the weapon down). Other officers arrive who are held-at-bay for some time, unable to provide medical assistance for the wounded officer, but probably too close to safely deal with a shooter possessing an assault rifle.

On the other end of the spectrum was two West Memphis police officers gunned down May 20 by a teenager with an assault rifle as they struggled with the teen’s father. The youth emerged from the minivan with an assault rifle just as the struggle began.

Imagine if the exact scenarios were to happen again, and this time instead of the shooters being female or an elderly man or a youth – the suspect has the appearance of a “dangerous” gang-banger covered with jailhouse tats. Do the officers close the hesitation / cognitive dissonance / disregarding gap and survive?

Think of Fort Hood TX and the active shooter. If you take the shooter’s race and religion out of the picture and simply deal with the behaviors and the total context of the developing circumstances – is the Army able to objectively assess the situation and take decisive administrative action to avert the catastrophe?

If the answer to the questions posed by these tragic scenarios is yes – or even probably, we may have a case of deadly sexism, deadly ageism and deadly racism.

Again, our judgments of others are somewhere between irrelevant and deadly.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Review of - A Whole New MInd: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink's work in "A Whole New Mind" has the potential to be helpful with a critical issue facing 21st century policing. Increasingly, officer's operating environment is transparent and open to worldwide scrutiny in real time. For good or bad, the individual officer can instantly become the epicenter of organizational influence on a worldwide scale. Besides being transparent, our communities are much more diverse and complex. The influence of universal pop culture and media constantly bear upon even the most rural areas of our country. While much work is yet to come, "A Whole New Mind" potentially opens the conversation to allow law enforcement to begin adapting to the challenges of the 21st century. If law enforcement courageously considers the implications of Pink's work and humbly sets out to build on it, I am convinced the following benefits await us: A Whole New Mind approach has the potential to begin to fortify law enforcement with new levels of tactical acumen and social competence. Tactical acumen: 1) More comprehensive pre-contact threat assessment by lowering the natural proclivity to be blinded by personal bias, prejudice, fear and loyalties thus allowing for a more objective assessment of total context and individual behavior. 2) Increased awareness of subtle precursors to violent or aggressive behaviors through a continuous gestalt (big picture) assessment of people and situations thus keeping the whole mind engaged to listen and observe. 3) Through these, increase the member's ability to use appropriate force at the appropriate time thus averting dangerous escalation. 4) Provide the foundation for strategies designed to devastate an adversary's willingness to resist, without devastating the adversary. Thus, build community trust and partnership with every encounter, even the most challenging ones. Social competence allows members to: 1) Appreciate as relevant, culturally and socio-economically diverse information from others perspective. Then, convert information into useful energy or processes needed to improve safety and quality of life. 2) Develop appropriate compassion: empathy for others with a strong desire to relieve suffering, through diverse life situations. Otherwise, when emotionally charged personal judgments of others swamp officers (with, for example, a feeling of disdain or "contempt of cop"); situational awareness and social competence evaporates. 2) Improve the effectiveness of assessment (precise attention and appropriate response to what is really going on with people and our communities). 3) Develop the capacity for attention and reflection (consideration untainted by mind-blinding judgmentalness and blame). This will produce the ability to match need with provision between various community members and professional colleagues. In a time of budget and staff cuts, law enforcement has but a few options before it: 1) Shrink back and become irrelevant observers to increasing chaos and suffering while engaging in what the military calls `force protection." 2) Increasingly resort to heavy-handed applications of force and enforcement; masked, rifle-toting SWAT teams hovering around, swooping down to decimate any perceived resistance, all the while destroying trust. 3) Take Pink's work and the work of many other progressive thinkers and learn to be responsive, reflective and relevant to what is really going on in our communities. In short, use our whole mind to continue learning new ways to unleash the power of unconditional respect.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Review of - Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? by Seth Godin

In “Linchpin,” Mr. Godin has given humanity a gift. My passion and concern are for law enforcement, a profession filled with both, need and potential. I humbly submit that Godin’s gift could potentially meet our cultures most pressing needs and provide our communities the greatest benefits - through law enforcement. To paraphrase Mr. Godin: For generations, we’ve been pushing officers to do something inherently unnatural. We’ve been teaching, cajoling, and yes, forcing officers to hide their empathy and their creativity and to pretend they are fast-moving automatons; machines designed to do the department’s bidding. It is not necessary. No, I’ll go further than that: it’s damaging. It’s damaging to have to put on a new face for work, the place we spend our days. It’s damaging to build departments around repetitive faceless work that brings no connection and joy (page 71). It is as if Mr. Godin somehow peered into the police training academies and looked over, among others, the “tactical communications” training modules.
Despite all this, the best officers have always been some of the finest artists and given precious gifts that change the recipients. Sometimes the recipient knows they have been touched and changed in a significant way, sometimes the recipient is oblivious to the gift they have received. I can think of one woman, a wife and a mother of young children, whose family called the police because she was distraught to the point of hysteria - and had a gun. I do not suppose she or her family know she was given the gift of life that day.
On the other hand, there is much work to be done. Training and management processes are generally archaic, carrot and stick processes that suppress artistry, crush passion, and snuff empathy. In many cases, official systems admonish officers to put on a tactical face for dealing with the public and to use rhetoric to manipulate people. Systems further weight officers with hundreds of pages of policy that dictate down to detail, draining the responsiveness and artistry out of interactions. Further, law enforcement tends to be a profession filled with people compelled to “work overtime to stamp out any insight or art” (page 118). People who have the “resistance so thoroughly entrenched they don’t even realize it’s there. For them this is normal. They think they’re being mature and realistic when they’re actually cowering in fear” (page 122).
While law enforcement has always been a profession blessed with many “artist” and even “linchpins,” it is ironically a profession driven internally to be what Mr. Godin calls the “lizard brain.” I have wondered for years about a paradox in law enforcement. It is a bravery rich culture when dealing with circumstances the average person runs from – such as a person made super-strong and dreadfully violent by PCP. However, when it comes to dealing with internal issues that smother creativity, responsiveness and compromise integrity – the lizard brain rules. Mr. Godin did a great job as he hunted down the “lizard brain” and exposed how it operates. He even provides some valuable insight on how to overcome the “resistance.” For this and many other reasons, I think “Linchpin” has much to offer law enforcement. As the profession prepares to face the unique challenges of the 21st century, we must deliver inspired work, both internally and externally. We must become a culture where giving gifts is the ultimate symbol of the power invested in us, a revolutionary return to a time when power was about giving not getting (page 151). Our art must begin to build community and allow the community to build value and safety for all (page 153). This is what the U.S. military calls building a counterinsurgency environment (COIN). This is a reflection of the founding principles of policing (Sir Robert Peel). Law enforcement must become a culture increasingly filled with artistic linchpins who unleash the power of unconditional respect.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Racial Profiling – Striking At the Root, Rather Than Hacking at the Leaves

Many of the challenges in racial profiling discussions arise from the fact that it is inherently difficult to identify true racial profiling. The methodology for gathering statistical data from enforcement activity is, by its nature, very limiting. While one can easily quantify the number of minorities stopped, it is near impossible to capture what was on the officer's mind when he/she stopped them. Research data reveals that the areas of our communities that are the most crime-plagued are also heavily populated by minorities. Numerous socio-economic factors contribute to this, but it is representative of nearly every city across the country. Policing activities are often concentrated in the areas with the most crime, therefore, the highest number of enforcement stops occur in those areas.

Other issues cloud the matter as well. Consider that distinct cultural attitudes are impossible to account for on a spreadsheet. This concept may seem ambiguous without a lengthy explanation, but it does contribute to the problem. For example, I (Chip) grew up in rural America. My friends and I thought it was cool to drive Dukes-of-Hazzard-style down country roads. This attitude, while simply part of our culture, increased our chances of drawing the attention of the county sheriff. Another example is blasting loud music from the car, which is illegal in almost all municipalities, but is an activity often associated with the urban culture.

In addition to the cultural attitudes of those stopped by police, some officers are rude and abrasive to EVERYONE they stop. If the target of their rancor on a particular stop happens to be a minority member, it could easily, although erroneously, be concluded that the stop and unprofessional conduct were predicated on a racial bias.

Jack and I believe the problem is much deeper. Policies, statistical record keeping, procedural reviews and annual training serve only to prune the leaves and branches of bias-based policing. However, a personal anima, an inner way of being, that is fueled by unconditional respect for all, strikes at the root of the problem.

I have a unique advantage in being able to field-test our philosophy on a daily-basis. Approximately 90% of the people my tactical squad encounters are minorities and our first contact with them during an enforcement action is generally at gunpoint. Tense, to say the least, as emotions run very high in these situations. Interestingly, my squad has not had a single complaint from a community member in almost three years, and we have never had a complaint of biased-based enforcement for the six years that I have led the unit. The credit is to be given to our unwavering commitment to the regard for the personhood of each individual we encounter. This is an acquired ability; a critical daily choice; a deliberate way of being. We wrote Unleashing the Power of Unconditional Respect in order to introduce this philosophy and indentify the unique opportunities that permit others to discover the interpersonal and tactical benefits of seeing people as people.

Recently, Jack’s daughter was on a pier in San Diego County, California. She noticed a thin, rainbow colored sheen of oil residue on the surface of the water. The sheen was only about twenty feet in diameter, was disgusting in appearance and was obviously bad for the ecosystem. The amount of oil was probably just a few tablespoons. It is remarkable to consider that in the countless billions of gallons of water in the ocean, this miniscule amount of oil floated to the surface and was enough to become an ugly pock mark on an otherwise picturesque scene.

While the goal of eliminating personal bias is unattainable (our humanity has personal biases woven into its fabric), we must cease leveraging our natural biases as an excuse to widen the divide between the public and the police. Rather, we should strive to create a law enforcement culture where unconditional respect for all people is the operational norm. In such a culture, the negative, bias-based policing will be readily identified. Even a few drops will float to the surface of an unconditionally respectful organization and produce a sheen that instantly exposes it for the toxic scum that it is.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Responsive to Our Communities Needs

By being responsive to our communities, we minimize the necessity to react to our community. It is ironic that our unwillingness to be responsive to people and situations (in the interest of maintaining organizational integrity) actually threatens organizational integrity rather than protects it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Collapse of the 911 Hamster Wheel

The wheel has collapsed, cities have cut budgets, departments have reduced staffing - the rules have changed. In the past, no matter how ineffective we were; we could always blame lack of community support, lack of funding and resources. Then we would get more funding, more resources more staff and most importantly, promote all our friends and get all our raises.
We never liked the 911 Hamster Wheel, we complained about it all the time but it has served us well in ‘proving’ we always needed more. Now, there is not more to give. What is the solution?
L.E. culture has always been susceptible to what Zachary Shore in “Blunder; Why Smart People make Bad Decisions” calls exposure anxiety. We fear looking weak and this leads to dangerous cognition traps. We tend to puff ourselves up to appear big and intimidating. We resort to our most base instincts, apply our Newtonian worldview, get out the stick (of industrial age carrot and stick fame) and engage in our communities as if our ends justify our means. However, as with most cognition traps the results tend to be disastrous
On the other hand, this could be a great time of learning and developing. An opportunity to forge strong relationships with our communities, establish new levels of understanding and empathy. This time could produce great new ideas of policing in the 21st century. This could be such a ‘revolutionary’ time that we find ourselves returning to our historic roots of Peelian Principles. We may find that building partnership with our communities IS our basic mission, and if we do not strive to do so with EVERY contact, we are self-destructing and have no one to blame but ourselves. We may begin to honor (and even promote) a completely new cadre of hero’s in our culture. Those who forge enduring relationships of high trust, and through this, find clarity and non-kinetic solutions to complex problems. We could begin to unleash the power of unconditional respect.
As unbelievable as it may seem, L.E. may not be ready for a fundamental change of this nature yet. We are all entrenched in loyalties, fears and biases that produce a plethora of cognition traps. However, if budget flows, do not return to normal levels soon, we might have no choice. We will either become irrelevant observers to chaos and suffering, or an occupying force.
So with cautious optimism – let us not simply watch and observe where the current budget crisis leads, let us take the lead with courage, compassion, integrity and unconditional respect for all people.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A 21st Century Western Front

Two Sides: L.E. in general suffers from multiple personality disorder.

  • This is not surprising when it established all its systems and structures from industrial age / Newtonian concepts of behavioral management (carrot and stick). While many have moved on, L.E. seems to believe survival (not to mention the ability to get promoted) depends on maintaining status quo. L.E. organizational cultures pine to find coherence by maintaining rigid structures of status quo. Ironically, the process produces incoherence.
  • A few “rebels” believe that adapting to challenges and ambiguity is what produces individual and organizational vitality and relevance. What allows organizations to endure is solid, ever improving processes that are dynamic, adaptive and creative responses. In other words, some members believe that the carrot and stick age has passed. Rather, authentic power to uphold justice is primarily by way of compassion and relationship, not force and coercion. Force and coercion are still very important tools, but must no longer serve as an identity.

One problem:
Well-meaning people on both sides line up from inside and outside L.E. organizations to support what they fervently believe to be right. It has become a 21st Century Western Front. This Front has entrenchments, battlements, offenses, strikes, air raids, guerilla attacks and many, many casualties. Both sides see themselves as the upholder of all that is right and the more effort they put into supporting their “side” the worse the problem becomes.

A Solution:
Chip and I intend to humbly position ourselves in “no man’s land” and demonstrate to both sides that the 21st Century Western Front is an epic waste of life, vitality, time and resources. We desire to lay a solid base for increased levels of tactical acumen and social intelligence. The goal: bridge the gap; unleash the synergistic power of unconditional respect into L.E. organizations and our communities.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Twisted Systems

Research has noted that the average time an officer listens before interrupting is seven seconds! When I share this data with officers, some laugh and say; "if people would just tell me what I need to know, I would not interrupt." This leads to assumption driven policing. We take decisive action that is irrelevant to the reality of what is really going on. It feels good, but solves nothing. In fact, it usually makes things worse. However, it does produce beans to count (stats) and job security – guaranteeing numerous callbacks and arrests to the same locations. Current systems institutionalize this twisted process.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Two of the Biggest Words in our Language - TO and FOR

I frequently have conversations with leaders / trainers of organizations who motivate (or manipulate) other members to listen to, and operationalize policies and teachings by saying something like; “We are absolved of culpability by teaching you this content. You had better do it, or you will be holding all culpability alone.”
In other words, they present the training or teaching as something done TO them, rather than FOR them. One can imagine how this would translate into contact with the public. If I follow the letter of the training expectation doing something TO you, rather than FOR you – while I do not break any policies, most members of our community will sense the ‘handling’ going on and will resent it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Making Human Factors Work

Imagine all the benefits to your clients and organization as the most frequent occurrence, daily contact with constituents, becomes increasingly and measurably positive and productive.

The most effective way to mitigate high-risk exposure is to conduct everyday activities in a manner that is positive and productive.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Revolutionarily Traditional Way of Being Police in the 21st Century

Chip and I just returned from the 2010 International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (I.L.E.E.T.A.) annual conference. The experience was nothing short of amazing as we sat under the teaching of, and had lengthy conversations with, some of the top subject matter experts in various disciplines of law enforcement and training. We also had the opportunity to present some of the concepts captured in our book. Two contrasting themes developed as the week progressed. Many attendees were "blown away" by the innovative and progressive manner of our content. However, top tier trainers were quick to remind everyone that what Chip and I were presenting came from basic traditional concepts obscured by our current cultural milieu and organizational groupthink.
Chip and I strive to maintain humility so we can constantly learn; we firmly believe that as soon as we think we have it figured out, we become the problem. We consider multiple disciplines for learning opportunities. For example, Robert Peel’s timeless principles, western and eastern military philosophies of war and soldier traditions, Plato’s Republic, warrior traditions such as Bushido, studies on brain functionality, social research, theology, philosophy, quantum physics as opposed to Newtonian, rich leadership literature and thousands of conversations with hundreds of cops and people from many diverse backgrounds. We listen and consistently discover unifying themes running through all of this diversity. Through this, we have come to some startling conclusions that have unprecedented implications for policing in the 21st century. Our two core statements regarding personal anima and basic mission for policing have far-reaching implications that provide course correction for our profession’s most pressing problems. For example, let us take a brief look at the willingness and ability for policing organizations to be adaptive and responsive to our communities.
Our organizational cultures struggle to find coherence by maintaining rigid structures of status quo. Ironically, the process produces incoherence. Individuals and organizations intuitively set up a few silos of perspective that all incoming information must go into. For police institutions, the informational silos tend to be: 1) Who can we blame? 2) Why is it not our fault? 3) Who can we put in jail? Up and coming managers are in charge of ‘washing’ incoming information so that it streams neatly into one of the three silos. People who have the audacity to give corporate level leaders “unclean” information are despised and maligned. We do this in our struggle to maintain stasis or equilibrium. However, these desires are contrary to policing in complex societies. Exerting organizational effort to maintain an artificial stasis is wasted energy and drains both individuals and the organization of vitality and relevancy.
Ironically, adapting to challenges and ambiguity is what produces individual and organizational vitality and relevance. What allows organizations to endure are solid, ever improving processes that are dynamic, adaptive, and creative. These processes only exist, as responses to challenges and ambiguities in the environment.[1] Responses will naturally become community orientated rather than inwardly orientated - dictated by rigid internal structures of control. The tools our book provides such as the Environmental Pyramid and Rule of 30 combined with the High Core Values /Basic Mission Sight Alignment allows the members of your organization to be responsive, adaptive, and reflexive while still maintaining personal and organizational integrity along with essential organizational identity. By developing an ability to be truly aware and responsive to the operating environment, the organization can continue to become more effecient in the use of time and resources and act on behalf of the community much more effectively.

[1] Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. Berrett-Koehler. San Francisco.