Safeguarding integrity

     In the article Safeguarding sensitive data," Law Enforcement Technology editor Tabatha Wethal references an interesting statement by Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Mike Walker, who talks about trooper values.

     Walker states: In Tennessee, the values of a trooper are professionalism, integrity, pride, loyalty, duty, honor and respect."

     He defines what this means to his department by saying: Character's what you have when nobody's looking. You lose your character, and you lose everything; you cannot be a law enforcement officer. You've got to be able to go into a court of law and raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth of the matter, and if you don't do that, you've lost all your character, your honor, your respect and your integrity."

     Walker notes department management and officers must take a close look at what such a statement means to them and how they plan to uphold the values they hold dear. This is the real world out here folks, you can very easily lose [your integrity]. It takes one brief moment or lapse in judgment to lose a career," he warns.

     Media outlets are riddled with reports of a few bad apples in the law enforcement profession who cast a pall on the profession as a whole. Last year, national news reported the conviction of Canton, Ohio, police officer, Bobby Cutts Jr., for the murder of his girlfriend and unborn child. That's a horrific example of how far down one can spiral if they lose their values, but lesser actions can also negatively impact public perception of an officer or a department as a whole.

     Today's police manager must be ever vigilant to spell out the values the department upholds and keep them front of mind for all employees.

     Simply writing a motto or mission statement and putting it on your Web site, patrol vehicles and press releases is not enough. These statements must be a way of life for every officer and every employee in your department. Spend time defining your mission statement and making sure it is upheld by all.

     Remember, it takes but one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.