Home 2011 October Perspective: Leadership Moments

Perspective: Leadership Moments

Leadership Moments
By Billy Grogan, M.P.A.

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In most of today’s police departments, the head of the agency rarely speaks on behalf of the organization. Instead, many agencies employ a public information officer (PIO) who speaks publicly for the department. This practice proves acceptable in most circumstances. However, too many occasions arise when department heads become overly dependent on the PIO and fail to step out front on an issue that requires their leadership. When this happens, confidence, trust, and support of the organization and the leadership can become negatively impacted. Fortunately, leaders who understand and recognize the three leadership moments organizations face can avoid these costly mistakes.

Billy Grogan
Chief Grogan serves with
the Dunwoody, Georgia,
Police Department.

First, many leaders fail to assume a leadership role when their community suffers the shock of a high-profile crime. Such incidents can affect the community’s perception of crime, as well as erode citizens’ confidence in the department. Unfortunately, too many agency heads take the easy route and let the PIO handle the situation. When the agency head takes the lead in addressing a major crime, it gives the community a sense of calmness in the middle of a storm and underscores the priority the agency places on the successful resolution of the case.

A second instance occurs when a member of the department is accused, suspected, or guilty of an act that erodes the foundation of support from the community and raises questions about the fairness and impartiality of the organization. By standing out front and speaking about such an issue, the agency head assures the community that the department is taking the incident seriously and provides transparency, inhibiting accusations of cover-ups. Of course, leaders carefully must weigh what they say.

The third leadership moment is equally important but much more difficult to define. Every community served has unique qualities and characteristics while placing value on different norms. In the midst of a controversial policy, new law, special event, or other circumstance, the agency head must recognize the opportunity to lead and make a difference. It is easier to lead when everything is as it should be, but more difficult in times of controversy or turmoil.

Leading a police organization presents challenges even in the best of circumstances. Personnel issues, politics, and building of community trust can be difficult and, at times, almost impossible to manage effectively. During a crisis, agency heads’ ability to lead is put to the test in ways sometimes unimaginable. A true leader recognizes those leadership moments and acts on them quickly and effectively.

Group of Business PeopleIntegrity is what people do when no one else is looking. It is total commitment to honesty in every aspect of a person’s life. Integrity goes to the core of conduct, what people believe in their heart of hearts. It cannot be bought, claimed, or bestowed. It does not come with office, title, or appointment. It simply exists. The person who has integrity rarely claims it. The person who claims it rarely has it. Integrity is best manifested quietly in day-to-day living and in the workplace. It cannot be stolen or taken away; however, it can be lost. Integrity is more valuable than riches, awards, or world acclaim. It should be treasured above all things, for after integrity comes decency, honor, trust, and principle.
—Mr. Jere Joiner,
retired captain, Shreveport,
Louisiana, Police Department


Table of Contents

Back to the Cover

Responding to Persons with Mental Illness
Encounters with individuals with mental illness present unique challenges for law enforcement officers.

By Abigail S. Tucker, Vincent B. Van Hasselt, Gregory M. Vecchi, and Samuel L. Browning

Safeguard Spotlight
Ingesting Poison: Adapting to Exposure to Child Pornography

Leadership Moments

Awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease
Agencies need to understand how to respond to the unique challenges presented by persons with Alzheimer’s disease.

By Robert Schaefer, M.P.A., and Julie McNiff, M.S.Ed.

Leadership Spotlight
Candor: A Risk You Can Afford to Take

Focus on Ethics
Rethinking Ethics in Law Enforcement

Disclosure in the Modern Age
In this technological age, law enforcement must remember the principles of disclosure and discoverability.

By Craig C. King, J.D.

Bulletin Notes

Wanted: Bulletin Honors

Patch Call
Hope (Arkansas) Police Department; Montana Highway Patrol

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