Things to Remember
Good morning class, and welcome to your families and friends, law enforcement leaders, and academy staff. Thank you for the extreme honor of standing with you today as you embark on an incredible journey—your law enforcement career.
You’ve been on my mind a great deal these past few weeks as I prepared what I hope will be a meaningful message as you begin a new season of service in your law enforcement careers. Putting myself in your shoes, so to speak, knowing what I know now at this stage of my career, I’ve reflected on what I could share with you today that would help guide you as you move forward.
So, television personalities aside, I’ve created a top ten list for this class of things I wish somebody had told me when I graduated from my basic police academy. I truly hope that these resonate with you for many years to come.
10) Remember that your law enforcement career is a marathon, not a sprint. This job will eat you alive if you are not patient and do not take the time to appreciate each season of your career. Trust me, it will go by quicker than you possibly can imagine.
9) Be a truth seeker and a truth speaker. Your bosses need you to be independent critical thinkers and courageous communicators in solving problems. Succumbing to the “groupthink” culture is not always in the best of interest of your department or the community you serve.
8) Give yourself permission to succeed. Be a lifelong learner. You are capable of achieving greatness in this profession if you work hard, believe in yourself, and remain loyal to your bosses. You are part of the answer, not part of the problem. Surround yourself with people smarter and wiser. Always have an expectant attitude of success.
7) Take action. Help create the safe community your citizens desire. Be engaged. Some people make it happen, some watch what happens, and some wonder what happened. You know what to do. Now, go out and do it.
6) Always exceed expectations. Raise the bar of our profession. Surprise your customers. Your community and department need this. Remember your oath of office. I encourage you to always think in terms of what you owe others. It’s never about us; it’s always about serving others.
5) Know that everyone is a leader. You don’t need to have gold on your badge or a rank insignia on your uniform to be a leader in your department or community. Our communities, state, and country need leaders, role models, and mentors. Ladies and gentlemen, you are leaders! You’ve been chosen. Walk straight and true and lead on.
4) Remember the four most important words. This is a tough, complex, and dangerous business. The application of what I call “positalk,” bringing a positive energy using positive words, has great power to influence others. When appropriate, remember to use these four words: “I’m proud of you” or “I believe in you.” Class, we are all proud of you, and we believe in you!
3) Stay as one team. Many departments function with their divisions, bureaus, or units operating as silos. This is wrong. We need to operate as one team, a well-oiled machine of crime fighters who all are on the same side. Always strive for a culture that embraces the concept of a single team.
2) Recognize that it’s not about who is right, but what is right. Police department cultures can become toxic when the use of power and the infusion of politics are at play. Play nice and do what’s right.
1) Always remember your most important work. When you’re done with your shift, after dealing with the mayhem you’ll face on a daily basis, you’ll go home. When you pull into your driveway and stop your car, I ask that you sit there for a few seconds and remember that you are about see your family and do your most important work of the day.
Freedom calls for a sacrifice that the protected will never know. You are special. You are congratulated for your achievement here today. Savor this moment. Please remember to be safe, have fun, and provide good service. Thank you and God bless you.
“You are capable of achieving greatness in this profession if you work hard, believe in yourself, and remain loyal to your bosses.”
“When you pull into your driveway and stop your car, I ask that you sit there for a few seconds and remember that you are about see your family and do your most important work of the day.”
This month’s leadership spotlight was adapted from a recent speech given by Chief Jim Pryde of the Gladstone, Oregon, Police Department to a State of Oregon Basic Police Academy graduating class.