Hotwashes and Personal Growth Potential

Personal Disaster Avoidance Begins with self-inspection. Not all life’s disasters are natural; some are man-made and self-induced.

The reason for this is that if a behavior is not broached today, you are validating the behavior by no intervention. It is important to explain why all behavior has good and bad ramifications and long term issues with these. It amazes me that we don’t mince words when it comes to unsafe acts or unsound tactics. However work behaviors (on and off duty) that can have career ending probabilities are often avoided. The issue is too sticky or you hope someone else addresses it. This is not a counseling statement but could be only a ‘how are things going’ conversation over coffee. When you became a supervisor the rose colored glasses that you thought you’d be peering through do not have selective vision. Often some will say that you may have validated an act through your omission to intervene. I am not trying to be a lawsuit is coming monger but here is the question that beckons. Having had to respond to officer suicides, officers arrested and too many press conferences to deal with a personnel tragedy, I remind you of this. Time after time, I have listened to front line supervisors state they should have done something back when they first noticed this or that. Now, my goal here is to prevent this tragedy and for supervisors to quit beating themselves up. It is our job to maximize our staffs’ potential and career growth. It is also our mission to minimize mistakes and injuries. To me, an officer losing their job over something that could have been corrected in the past is often a major loss. We have lost their knowledge, skills and abilities, the vast amount of money to train, equip and deploy them. It also takes a toll on the remaining staff, you lose focus and energy.

In emergency management we are taught to do ‘sit-reps’ or situational reports on the evolving situation. Now your department may do yearly employee evaluations. I think that is too, long of a time. There is nothing wrong with monthly, bi-monthly sit downs with your staff and keeping them on the compass reading to success. I do not like these yearly ones, reminds me of Santa Claus coming and even I slipped a few past the jolly old elf a few times.

What is your personal sit-rep?  To all supervisors, commanders and those who are the future’s command staff, I remind you that it is not your departmental achievements that you are measured by. It is how your staff excels under pressure and handles business. A good commander is the example for their staff, you do not excel if they don’t excel. Let’s maximize our greatest asset, which is our staff.


About The Author:

William L. "Bill" Harvey is a native Virginian. He served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps. He has a BA in criminology from St. Leo University and is a graduate of the Southern Police Institute of the University of Louisville (103rd AOC). Harvey served for over 23 years with the Savannah (GA) Police Department. He served in field operations, investigations and support services, and completed his career there as the director of training. He has published several articles in professional periodicals and has lectured nationwide. He is serving as a chief of police in central Pennsylvania area; a duty he’s performed for the past nine years. He is on the advisory board of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and other professional associations.

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