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01-23-12, 05:15 AM #1
Departmental Morale; The Total Package.Morale noun \mə-ˈral\:
2a: the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand
b: a sense of common purpose with respect to a group : esprit de corps
3: the level of individual psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future. (Merriam Webster's New English Dictionary)
The reasoning is simple, actually. Consistently listed among the most stressful of professions, law enforcement is a taxing career to the mind and body. Anxiety accompanies almost every call, not just the obviously stressful, dangerous ones. It is frustrating to deal with the same people, making the same bad choices, and then acting out in remorse, distress, or frustration because, (you guessed it), they got the same results as the last time. American society is known for its freedoms, and unfortunately, many Americans simply do not realize that there are responsibilities that come with that program. You are free here, to succeed or to fail, and the difference between the two is usually how you, yourself behave. After years of doing "the job", officers learn that a vast majority of law enforcement calls for service are people really just wanting to vent. Believe me, the officers want to vent too, but they can ill afford to most of the time, and unless you've been in their shoes, you probably wouldn't understand their frustrations anyway.
How then, can we regard the importance of a department's overall prevailing attitudes as anything but critical to its very function? Officers are people who deal with people. Experienced officers are people who have dealt with people for years... at their best, and at their worst. What they most require to motivate them is a department that understands this fact, and assists them in accomplishing the many-faceted tasks that entails by having high expectations, yet offering high levels of support. Departments that desire warm bodies in the cars and nothing more get just that. Departments that take the time to train, develop, guide, and provide a support structure within their ranks to include real leadership, sincere concern and respect for the individual officer and his family, and some recognition of achievements beyond the occasional "good job" fulfill the needs of the officer to the extent that he continues to stay plugged in, career-wise. There are far too many temptations to become retired on-duty already inherent in this career, and when a department's administration treats rank and file officers with apathy or even acrimony, the result is a deflation in standards and an overall erosion in conduct. If a department is experiencing a rash of failures with regard to officer professionalism, use of force, crime suppression or low rates of apprehensions, something is amiss, and the investigations should well begin at the supervisory or administrative levels.
In his 1943 paper A Theory in Human Motivation, Abraham Maslow proposed a hierarcy of human behaviors, at levels beginning from the very basics: breathing, eating, sleep, etc. and culminating at a level of self-actualization, which yielded behaviors such as morality, creativity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts. Law enforcement officers, in order to be effective at the complex tasks before them, absolutely must function at that level, which is the highest level of function, and requires that needs far beyond the basics be fulfilled. The high levels of officer's needs aren't consistently fulfilled by a department which is functionally unaware or unconcerned with meeting those needs. The matter is more than just uniforms and equipment. It is more than job security and opportunities for advancement, and it is more than a pat on the back once in a while. It is moreso understanding the needs of the line officers, and attending to them across the board through effective and timely interaction. It is the sharing of information, the solicitation of feedback, the adoption of reasonable and prudent policy, and the development of viable structure and leadership within the department that will respond reasonably to officer's stated needs.
Just as the citizen needs to vent, the officers do too. Again, it cannot be stressed enough, they are people too. Allowing them to do so without having their concerns summarily dismissed, taking their perspectives sincerely into account, and showing concern for their well-being are absolutely crucial and the need for this cannot be understated. If the department is having a morale problem, most likely it is because the officers within the confines of that department feel left out in the decision-making processes which directly impact the conditions under which they are expected to work. It is also very likely because they feel that they are left completely out of the information loop when it comes to upcoming changes in the department. To the extent that it is productive and reasonable, keeping them as informed as possible, and just listening to their concerns can be the greatest strides on the path to rebuilding trust and confidence, meeting those higher needs so that their performance can be sharpened to the necessary level to achieve greater levels of service, better and more effective judgment and problem solving. Sure, pay, uniforms, and equipment are important to them, but the investment in giving them a voice and keeping them informed is much cheaper, and yields real and significant results. The keys to improving morale aren't always golden, but they do require that administrations invest their time, attention, and information.
"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly. - Lovelace
The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in representation of his employer, its agencies or assigns. In fact, they probably fail to be in alignment with the opinions of any rational human being.
01-23-12, 05:55 AM #2
Absolute common sense.Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
01-23-12, 08:15 AM #3
01-23-12, 09:40 AM #4
As usual, great post.Job security...
Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
01-23-12, 09:52 AM #5
Very well said, CB.
01-23-12, 10:39 AM #6
can someone email this to probably... what... 90% of administrators?
well said CB-=Twan007
Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
The opinions expressed by this poster are wholly his own, and should never be construed to even remotely be in alignment with his employer. Matter of fact, the poster will deny any knowledge of any post... this message will self-destruct in 5 seconds...
01-23-12, 11:01 AM #7The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of WarSupporting Member Lvl 2
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Very well said.
I would add one more thing that officers need; a sense that they have somewhere to go in their career. This isn't necessarily promotion through supervisory ranks, but simply the chance for their career to involve something more than the same duties that a rookie does. It can mean things like becoming instructors and training officers, it can be specialty assignments like motors or investigations, or it can be supporting the development of skill areas like crash reconstruction or crime scene technician. Or even just interesting in-service training classes! But, for most officers, if they find themselves staring at 20 years of pushing a cruiser with no real hope to do anything else, even for temporary assignments, they'll burn out and become frustrated.
This is something I'm seeing in my own agency. Most of our specialties are locked down as long as someone wishes to remain in them. A few are termed, on the order of 5 years. So we're beginning to see two things happen. First, you're seeing officers get frustrated, bored, and simply stop caring about doing more than show up. After all, if the minimum gets you your step (when authorized by the city council... which is a whole different topic) on your anniversary, why do more? (This becomes even more apparent with younger officers, as has been discussed here before, who are much less likely to have the same mentality about work as some of us "dinosaurs".) Second, you see the smaller agency become simply a training ground and place to get certification or street cred before applying to other departments or federal agencies. In that case, you start to see lots of turnover, and a lot of inexperience on the street compared with lots of experience in specialties. You also get inexperienced supervisors -- because that's the pool you have to draw from.Voting against incumbents until we get a Congress that does its job.
TASER: almost as good as alcohol for teaching white boys to dance
"Don't suffer from PTSD -- Go out and cause it!"
-- Col. David Grossman, US Army, ret.
All opinions expressed are my own and are not official statements of my employer.
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