The Servant Officer: How We Got Here and How We Forge a Proactive Path ForwardFeb 07, 2022
The Servant Officer
A 3-part series on what creates the Modern Officer
This week, LHLN launched its newest class and concept the Servant Officer via a video released on Monday. Today we re-launch our weekly blog post with a 3-part series on what we are convinced will be the most transformational program for law enforcement in decades.
Please take some time to click on the video above to watch me talk about this concept and how I believe it will transform the profession of law enforcement. But first, let's recap how we got here as a profession.
During the last decade and one-half, law enforcement in America has been in transitionat best and, some would say, under assault at worst. We have digressed from heroes after 9/11/2001 to villains in 2020 with the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody. Floyd's death not only ignited racial tensions between police and communities of color it also became the tipping point following a decade-long decay in police-community relations.
There is no question that as a profession, law enforcement has found it is difficult to change. With centuries of processes and procedures in place and the fact that the profession itself tends to attract and cultivate a traditional enforcement mindset, cops and the profession of law enforcement resists change.
Law enforcement officers are often hyper-vigilant in the performance of their duties and that often spreads to their personal lives. This hypervigilance causes a hyper-focus on the technical and tactical skills of the profession. This can sometimes lead to an out-of-balancemindset and a natural drift toward the warrior attitude.
There is no doubt that every community in this great nation deserves to have the most highly trained and tactically-proficient officers. However, beginning with Ferguson, Missouri and culminating in the death of George Floyd, officers can no longer rely solely on the warrior mindset. The communities they serve have changed and so much law enforcement.
It's what I call the cultural mindshift.
Many things have led to this cultural mindshift. The emergence of technology that allows for the immediate publication of real-time actions of officers from cell phone video to body and dash cam video, has led to officers finding themselves having to navigate a world where every professional action they perform is under a microscope. The negative narrative that follows the video world has caused officers to question whether they even have support from communities. This in turn leads officers to question their psychological safety at work. The negative results for communities is that the lack of psychological safety can lead to a paralysis of action and a work stoppage among cops.
Unfortunately, the events of 2020 (what I call a perfect storm of pandemics, protests, and calls for police defunding) have left many officers suffering from this professional paralysis. Officers are increasingly finding it difficult to perform (and often are reluctant to perform) even the basics of their job, as they worry that should something go wrong, they won ’t have the support of their department leaders.
Law Enforcement leaders are expecting officers to magically adapt to the new reality of policing but are not providing the direction, the skills or training needed to address the cultural mindset shift of the organization or communities that has occurred. In their defense, many leaders are also paralyzed and not sure what to do. Some even expect the pendulum to swing back in their favor and for things to go back to the way they were. I would argue that while police support will come back, the reality has fundamentally changed.
The rules have changed for law enforcement, but the purpose has not.
We have lost the narrative of our profession to social media post, activists, mainstream media, and anyone who feels the need to be critical of the police. Within an instant the actions of a single police officer, whether justified or not, can create a narrative that spins out of control causing public opinion to be swayed in favor of the negative and usually against the officer. This can tear at the binding fabric of police and community relations trust. That’s why I am writing this article and unveiling this program to offer a proactive path forward. A way of navigating this very tumultuous environment in which police find themselves post George Floyd.
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be writing about this program and the components of it that I truly believe will propel the profession of law enforcement into a positive future AND that it will help reclaim the narrative of this noble profession. In this first post, I’ve identified where we are as a profession and how I believe we got here AND most importantly, I introduce you to what every cop at heart is – a servant. Then over the next few weeks, I will dive into what a Servant Officer is and how to cultivate a servant heart while keeping the mindset of a warrior. It’s an ambitious program, but one that I truly believe will transform law enforcement and re-ignite the commitment to serving and protecting that all officers have at heart.
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