Dec. 13, 2018 | View as webpage


This year presented many challenges for police leaders nationwide. Recruitment and retention issues continued to impact staffing levels with dire headlines such as Ore. State Police at 'breaking point' with drop in troopers on patrol and Indianapolis PD experiencing 'mass exodus' of officers gracing the PoliceOne homepage on a regular basis. Use of force came under the spotlight in California, with proposed legislation that would make police use of deadly force “necessary” rather than “reasonable.” And the opioid crisis continued its relentless grip in both big cities and small towns, with law enforcement leaders forced to think outside the box and develop intervention programs that would save lives.

In this month’s Leadership Briefing, Chief Joel Shults, Ed.D., reviews some of the many critical issues police leaders had to navigate in 2018, while Forest Grove Police Department Chief Janie Schutz discusses the value of police-citizen partnerships in improving community safety.

As 2018 comes to a close, I would like to wish you all a happy and safe holiday season and a prosperous New Year! What do you think will be the biggest issue in policing in 2019? Email your predictions to

Nancy Perry
Editor-in-Chief, PoliceOne

In this issue:

By Chief Joel F. Shults

Police leadership is always a balancing act. Here are some extremes chiefs faced in 2018 and questions they will need to prepare to answer in 2019.

De-policing – Effective intervention

With more use of force options and greater demand for accountability, police officers are under unprecedented pressure to make exactly the right decision at exactly the right time. Every trainer and veteran officer knows that hesitation can be deadly, but the myth that officers must use the least amount of force possible is the expectation of the public.

The temptation for officers and their supervisors is to lay low, avoid unnecessary contacts and not generate any complaints. The reality of the police mission is to prevent crime and apprehend criminals.

How will leaders encourage quality policing in this environment while maintaining morale in 2019?

Technology – Human interaction

Recruiting and training officers who can effectively utilize all of the digital assets available to patrol officers may seem easy in an era where officers beginning their careers have never been apart from the supercomputers in their pocket. But not everyone understands the capacity of drones, low light devices, how to collect digital evidence, how to dig for information across multiple platforms to solve or predict crime, or the impact of social media on their careers. Trainers are also finding that the generation of “eyes down and ears plugged” may have a lot to learn about actual face-to-face conversations involving empathy and listening skills.

How will leaders ensure officers use technology to connect with and not alienate citizens in 2019?

Mental fitness – Emotional weakness

Making sure that officers are aware of the dangerous effect of unmanaged stress and trauma on their health, performance and interpersonal relationships is becoming an integral part of overall officer fitness. How does this square with the survivor mindset? Which is more helpful – acknowledging our human limitations or living with a courage that suppresses them?

How will leaders nurture both the physical and emotional wellness of officers in 2019?

Accountability – Loyalty

Team cohesiveness remains essential in law enforcement operations. Deep bonds form, as they must. Although the “blue wall of silence” is exaggerated in the media and commentary, friendship is often a place where secrets can grow. Patterns of delinquency can arise when partners mistake enabling for loyalty.

How will leaders intervene with coaching, correction, or penalty while maintaining unit cohesiveness in 2019?

Leaders on the fulcrum

There may have been a time when the laws were black and white, the policy manual thin and common sense was all a cop really needed, but that era is long past. Today’s police leaders are the fulcrum – the tipping point – in managing the increasing rate of change and complexity in the policing profession.

How will leaders balance the competing demands of the public, political leaders and the officers on the line in 2019?

Other trending leadership topics in 2018:

Body-worn cameras, records management systems and less-lethal gear are crucial tools for modern policing. Are yours serving your department’s needs? Take our 5-minute survey.

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By Chief Janie Schutz

Maintaining officer morale is critical to the success of every law enforcement agency, yet it can be a struggle for today’s police leaders to connect officers with their mission as they field questions like, “Is anybody watching?” and “Does anyone care?”

Remember our mission

Thirty years ago, I came to law enforcement convinced most people are instilled with a deep sense of goodness. As a police officer, my task is to serve those good people and keep them safe. In fact, the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics begins with the following:

“As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality, and justice.”

As a police chief, my number one goal is to have my officers understand that every person we come across in our work – and we come across all kinds – is worthy of our service, our guardianship and our respect. Recent events though, in cities and towns across our nation, have probably caused many of us, both police and citizens alike, to wonder what in the world is going wrong in America.

  • How do tragedies like the Aurora, Newtown, Las Vegas and Parkland shootings happen?
  • Have police let the American public down?
  • Have we not been vigilant enough in our oath to the public?

My answer is a resounding “NO!”

The value of citizen partnerships

There is no doubt that police need to continue to grow and understand their individual communities, but the people that make up “our America” need to understand their own responsibilities to each other in keeping their communities safe.

In a democracy, effective police are reliant on citizen cooperation at a minimum and citizen partnerships at best. Citizen partnerships can be everything from individual vigilance to neighborhood watches. There is no better example of a citizen’s diligence than when a man in Watertown, Massachusetts, saw blood on the tarp of his boat several years ago and quickly reported this to the police. His vigilance led to the arrest of the second Boston bombing suspect. A member of the community made the conscious decision to get involved and a great thing happened.

How police leaders can develop partnerships

To develop and nurture partnerships with the community, police leaders need to:

  • Embrace change: When police leaders embrace change, partners – both inside and outside of the department – will share information relevant to collaboration without hesitation.
  • Make the effort: The business of policing shouldn’t be just about successes or failures, but rather about the effort you put into assisting your community in becoming a safer place to live.
  • Remember your mission: Enthusiasm is contagious. Don’t ever forget why you became a cop, as it most often began with the desire to want to help those who can’t help themselves. This is where our inner strength and perseverance comes from.

So the next time one of your patrol officers asks, “Is anybody watching?” or “Does anyone care?” remind them that our children are watching, our neighbors are watching, our leaders are watching. Our entire community cares. Citizens look to us for our service, our guardianship and our respect. And when we as police officers come together to provide these things, we can say that we watched, we cared. And that’s the point of policing.

How police leaders can help cops remember their mission:

Be Advised …

3. Countdown to capture. Following in the steps of other true-crime podcasts, a Southern California PD recently launched a six-part series on an open murder investigation.

2. 365 days of LE awareness. The Calgary Police Service Canine Unit has released its 2019 K9 Heroes Calendar, which raises money for the Calgary Police Foundation, while connecting cops with their communities.

1. Online activity monitoring for law enforcement. A new eBook from the RAND Corporation outlines how PDs can develop strategies for social media and social network analysis.

Share this Briefing

You are welcome to share the PoliceOne Leadership Briefing. Forward this email to your command staff, supervisors and patrol officers; print and post in the roll call room; add a link to your department’s website; or reprint in your organization or regional police association newsletter.

Got a leadership tip, management question, commercial use inquiry, or an article idea? Send me an email,

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