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Morale - A Police Chief’s Letter to The Troops

“STOP – this is not who we are as an organization or as individuals.”

What would you say if your entire profession was under fire, your team was warn-out, and their families were stretched thin?

The law enforcement community is under a tremendous amount of pressure these days. The last 12 months would wear anyone down. They have been on the frontlines for COVID 19 and for the peaceful and the violent protests in our communities. As a profession, they are under fire from many of the people they’ve sworn to serve and protect. They are being examined by others, and are also going through a lot of self-examination. They are under-funded, under-staffed and over-worked.

When I am coaching law enforcement leaders, morale is one of the topics they want to talk about the most.

In the midst of all of this chaos, I was forwarded a letter that a police chief wrote to her agency as she led them through the storm. This is a great example of a leader who recognizes that:

  • Morale is an inside job.

  • Showing empathy demonstrates strength not weakness in a leader.

  • Our character is demonstrated in the tough times more than the easy times.

  • The team will get through this together and get better together.

  • Expectations are still high, even during difficult circumstances.

The past few weeks feel as if there has been a tremendous amount of time and effort dedicated to personnel issues. When slowing down to review all that Lt. _____ and I have been doing, listening, following up, confirming conversations (or not) and trying to be fixers, I’m struck with one thought – what impacts you?

I don’t usually like the “shotgun effect” type of action but maybe this is beneficial for us all. Right now, there is tremendous stress on everyone as we operate in a surreal environment. Sometimes I feel like the mole in the “whack-a-mole” game. Wear a mask, stop the speeders, defund means what, complete training, find the proof, read policy, prepare for presentation, remove signs, leave the signs alone, let people protest, don’t let people protest… Then add personal life – get milk, have the kids signed on to virtual school, have they done their homework, can you take care of appointment/sick child/sick parent, pay bills, cut the grass, etc.

So, with everyone having their own life circus running around in their heads, why get involved in someone else’s circus? Are you craving distraction, like to share the misery, just enjoy the gossip, like to spread conspiracy theories or just like to stir the $%&! ?

STOP – this is not who we are as an organization or as individuals.

The morale of an organization is impacted by the morale of the individuals. The best way to improve morale is to focus on yourself and on things that impact you. Do not get pulled into negative discussions (Positivity) and tell others to stop (Courage). Help others struggling by giving encouragement and assistance on a report, CFS or cleaning up their unit (Selflessness & Duty). Believe in others, be your own person and ask for an explanation when you don’t understand (Integrity). Admit when you are wrong, commit to change and be accountable (Humility).

Take care of yourself, stay focused and stay safe,

It was this police chief’s Duty – her moral obligation – to address the elephant in the room. Times are tough in the law enforcement profession. This letter acknowledges that, but then encourages a positive response in the midst of these circumstances.

Who we are as an individual, a leader of a team, and as an organization, becomes crystal clear in hard times. The leader’s influence on a team is never more evident than in the middle of a storm. This leader, is communicating, showing empathy, reinforcing team values, and setting the example.

There are so many leaders in law enforcement who are doing the same thing in their agencies. It is one of the reasons, I am confident in their ability to rebound and rebuild trust with their communities and improve our society as a whole. The majority of law enforcement professionals are working hard to make changes from the inside. It is not an easy job in some locations. But, it cannot happen until a leader steps forward, exercises Positivity and leads that team through these times. This is just one example of one leader, being a Leader of Character.

You may not be in law enforcement yourself, but a lot of industries and organizations have been through a difficult time in the last twelve months. It is up to the leader to be the Chief Encouragement Officer in the midst of the storms. That is how a Leader of Character needs to help their team emerge stronger, smarter and with their character intact.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • How has your attitude influenced your team during recent storms?

  • How can you be the Chief Encouragement Officer for your team?


It is important to us for you to have an opportunity to exercise Positivity, not only individually, but together as a team. This is why we have created practice cards with scenarios. We invite you to discuss as a team what it means to exercise Positivity via our Coaching Cards.

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