"A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels,” Albert Einstein.
Dr. Einstein gave this warning to our nation nearly 80 years ago about war. He could have just as well been predicting the current war on American policing. A war that gains momentum each time a problem officer misrepresents the 99% of officers who honor the public trust placed in their positions. Although the public and politicians are quick to blame police management for retaining these officers, police management is just as quick to blame unions and bad arbitrators.
There is something else a play here; and, to understand it requires new thinking about the purpose for police and the purpose for employment.
Purpose for Police
No civilized society has ever survived long without peace and some form of organized police to enforce its laws and the method and means used to bring about peace. We call those who serve in these positions police or law enforcement officers. However, these titles define them by what to do, not why they do it, and in doing so, we have created within their conscious and subconscious minds a myopic vision of their purpose. In earlier times, we called them Peace Officers. We need to reinstate the title.
Purpose of Employment
Employment provides employees with a livelihood and satisfies many of their social and human (physical and psychological) needs and desire. However, that is not the purpose of employment. Employment is not welfare. It must accomplish something of value to the employer and the employers’ constituents. In police service, those constituents are the public; and the value for the public is knowing that the trust they have placed in their police will not be dishonored.
The purpose of employment is the accomplishment of the employer’s mission. The employment contract requires that employees give their best efforts to be loyal to their employers and to honor that contract according to the expressed and implied terms and condition.
The problem is the 180 years old semi-military, command and control management model in current use. It is not practical for the nature of police work, nor is it efficiently or effectively defensible. This model attempts to control and regulate what all employee protection laws and unions (since the 1960s) exist to limit – i.e., to limit management control over employee’s conduct and behavior!
Environments create a culture. Change the environment in such a manner that it is rewarding to the honorable officers that make up - at a minimum, 90-99 percent of current officers in the profession, and problem officers will change their ways if they want to survive. The Sworn To Honor system creates that environment.
D. J. Van Meter, PhD
Founder, Van Meter and Associates, Inc.