The Path to High-Tech

It's long been said that technology with all its promise of making officers more efficient, effective and safe is no substitute for good police work. But for police managers, technology will never replace what has come to be known as the three C's of leadership: communication, cooperation and conflict resolution. Without these three strategies in place to lead an agency into the future, technological advances meet a dead end.

Communication. Leaders within an agency must talk to each other and the officers they direct. More importantly, they must listen to employees' needs, concerns and problems, and work with them to reach a resolution. "The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them," Colin Powell has said about the importance of communication. "They have either lost confidence that you can help them or have concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."

Likewise, communication must reach outside headquarter walls. Open lines of communication and information sharing must extend to leaders in other departments in order to fully arm law enforcement's ranks against today's high-tech and mobile criminals.

Cooperation. To protect and serve there must be cooperation within an organization and between organizations. A competitive environment, without trust, prevents such cooperation. The savvy leader continually seeks ways to build trust among all levels of the organization and beyond.

Conflict resolution. If communication and cooperation are obstacles, principled leaders do not turn the other way and hope things will improve over time — they tackle these challenges head on. Powell says, "Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group." True law enforcement leaders solve problems as they arise.

Technology offers tremendous potential for the future of law enforcement. But fully maximizing its potential starts with good leadership — and that's where you begin.