Keys to successful police leadership
Every organization has a mission and the only way to accomplish it is through people
By Lt. Jim Glennon, Lombard, IL (ret.)
I’m the son of a Chicago Cop. My Dad was the son of a Chicago Cop. My dad was only on the job for about seven years while my Granddad served for more than 30. I was a cop for eleven years when I made sergeant in 1991. After I got my brand new shiny gold badge I drove over to my parent’s house to show it off.
A few minutes after my arrival, Dad told me to follow him into his bedroom. This order caused a stir in my psyche as I had a flashback to when I was around 13 years of age. In that instance, Dad was charged by my mother to give me a talk about the birds and the bees. As I sat on the bed I noticed my Dad seemed confused and even nervous. He paced, he paused, and paced some more all while rubbing his head and hands. Finally he turned, pointed his finger at my face and said, “You’d better never get anybody pregnant! Any questions?” I remember thinking, “Yeah, about a million of ‘em, but I don’t think you’re the one to ask.” So I just shook my head and said, “Nope.” Relieved, Dad the sexologist then said to me, “OK, go tell your mother we talked.”
But this time, my Dad was direct and serious. He asked me as I sat down, “Do you know why I quit the police department?”
“Yeah, you were having kids like rabbits (I’m the oldest of nine) and you were making more money two days a week covering pipe than five days a week driving a patrol car.”
He said to me, “Yeah that’s partly right — and what I’ve told you for years — but that’s only part of the reason. The bigger reason is because I couldn’t trust my sergeants. They were all captains’ kids and only cared about their own careers. Several of us quit because they wouldn’t back us up.”
I saw a different side of my father as I heard a different side to his reason for giving up a job he obviously loved. To keep this short I’ll summarize what he very purposely impressed upon me that night. And while the words and terminology aren’t exactly his, the meanings and point most definitely are.
“The only reason sergeants exist is to take care of the patrol officers.”
He added that making any organization successful is pretty simple as long as you focus on two things: Mission and People. Every organization has a mission and the only way to accomplish it is through people. So you have to develop a relationship with those in your charge and communicate both what you expect and who you are. Above all, they have to trust you.
So when I made lieutenant I thought the best way to create this relationship was through communication and to make it official I put it to paper and passed out my one page “Mission and Purpose” statement three times a year. I offer it here unedited. And while I took some grief from a few supervisors about putting such things in writing, I found this to be perhaps the smartest thing I ever did in my 13 years as a Commander (though that smart list is pretty short).
Shift Mission Statement
Enforce laws, arrest those who need arresting
General Management Philosophy - Create an Atmosphere of Trust!
1. Line level officers/personnel are the most important elements of the entire organization.
General Guidelines for Officers
• Provide back-up ADVISE WHERE YOU ARE RESPONDING FROM
2. Remain professional. Remember people are emotional beings. Take nothing personally.
3. Be on time and ready to respond in full uniform. Bring AED, phone, etc. to squad
4. Use unallocated time proactively. Stop cars, interact with people, be a visible deterrent.
• Thorough and complete and include times and places (e.g. Miranda)
6. Breaks — be aware of public perception / clean up the break room / limit time in station
7. Assist each other in maintaining professionalism (i.e. tempers, attitude towards the public)
8. Shift files
• open to inspection & will be used for both positive and negative
9. Check your email, voicemail, and mailboxes everyday
10. Overtime — you must advise your shift supervisor if you will be staying over to complete work
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