Have the cops been raiding the bank?

It’s almost a year since  I first wrote on this blog. My second blog was about our trust bank which got me thinking yesterday about my home town.  There’s been a lot of trouble down there in Christchurch lately. Boy Racers are winding everyone up, there’s been quite a few hold-ups and yesterday two police officers were shot.  Fortunately they survived, but not so the police dog Gage. There’s an increasing awareness that quite a lot of crime is directed at police.

The police commissioner Howard Broad has now said that he’s going to make guns more accessible to the police. There’s new laws being introduced to make it a more serious offence to assault a police officer. They have stun guns. We’re building lots of prison cells to keep people temporarily away from us (99% are coming out one day to a neighbourhood near you). We’re told by the police union that the police will need to get tougher as society is not showing the respect that is due.

When I put this all together I’m disturbed. I’m mostly disturbed by the proposition that a lack of respect is a problem that is only has one side to it. In coaching, I often say to my coachees that there is only one person you can truly change and the best place to start is with that person.

Over Queen’s Birthday weekend we were told that the police were going all out to slow us down and that patrols were going to be out in force, which in fact, they appeared to be. Only one person died on the roads that weekend. Subsequent (shorter weekends) have not been so flash. It turned out that many of the police cars parked up apparently to get the speeding public were empty. It was a con.

The tone and content of police communication to those it serves has become increasingly lecturing and telling. Anyone with a modicum of leadership understanding will know the impact of such behaviour on a team. And importantly, what deposits are being made in the trust bank with the public by the police from its minister down, to us public? The solutions appear reminiscent of bronze-age “eye for an eye” thinking, rather than addressing underlying issues.

I am certain and know that individual police officer’s efforts are in many respects outstanding. Ask any country cop about his or her relationship with the community and you will soon find that trust, goodwill and working together are ingredients that are not just advantageous, but essential, for getting the job done with the community. The trust bank has healthy deposits.

Should we expect our police and our government to look inside and explore their behaviour? Would some deep reflection about trust benefit? What about other stuff outside the realm of policing that actually causes crime? I reckon it would. I’m realistic of course and know that the man who shot the cops yesterday will and should get what he deserves (including a shave!). But if personal leadership requires trust, then so does organisational leadership and if it’s not led by the police, we won’t be solving anything.

Should the police and its masters do more about making some deposits into the trust bank with us? It’s easy and simple to think that the police aren’t responsible for crime, they’re only responsible for picking up the mess that criminals create. Even if that’s the case, I think we can fairly and squarely say that what we’re doing with tougher, bronze-age solutions, just ain’t working.

I reckon as well as being tough, we need to see some deposits in the trust bank. Empty police cars, crooked cops and lecturing to us has raided the bank. Before we need shotguns in the front of patrol cars, let’s see some real leadership. Some self reflection and building of trust with the community. Afterall, we’re all one. The police are ours, for us.

Does your organisation have a trust bank with its community?