In Texas, all police chiefs are required to attend a bi-annual 40 hour conference that is called the “Texas Police Chief Leadership Series”. The series is sponsored by the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas which is based at Sam Houston State University.
Each two year cycle, it is the goal of this conference to keep chiefs up to speed on the issues and pitfalls that they face every day as leaders.
In the tumultuous climate that we currently operate in this year’s theme was perfectly selected.
“Fostering Nobility and Legitimacy in Policing”
In the world around us every day we are seeing cities at war with themselves. No matter where you gaze, you see non-stop protests of some sort and even riots in many cases. We have seen a number of cities that are grieving the loss of public servants who were murdered for no particular reason and to top it off we are in an election year with all of the spectacles that come along with it.
It was in this climate that I read, and then taped a quote by Michael Nila to my computer so that I would see it every time I came to work…
“In times of great challenge, there is no greater need for the nobility of policing to nurture and protect democracy”
I was fortunate enough to get a refresher course this week on why it is so important that we, as police leaders, do our jobs with an ethical mandate and make sure our fellow officers follow that lead. The police role as guardian is one that is vital to the success of a free society. In ancient times, the philosopher Plato wrote, ‘It matters not if the cobblers and the masons do their jobs well, but if the Guardians fail, the democracy will crumble.”
It is cornerstone ideals such as this that are so vital to what we do right here in South Texas every day. The importance of having guardians of character cannot be overstated, and as a Chief I can attest that finding, and selecting the right people to work with our citizens is amongst the most important duties we are tasked with.
You see no one becomes a police officer by default. No one went to apply for a job as a truck driver or a factory worker and when none were available said, “Well, I guess I will be a cop for a while”. It doesn’t work that way. The decision to become one of society’s guardians is a deliberate one.
For those of us who have the privilege of serving, the need for constant improvement is ever looming. Being just “good enough” is never good enough. We have to consistently raise the bar, both as individuals and as a profession.
On a personal note, I want to thank the 104 Texas Chiefs who I spent a week with. As a collective we had 2647 years of police experience in the room, and I am always grateful for my colleagues who are willing to share their ideas, policies, success stories, and mindsets as we all work together to keep Texas safe!
Until next time,
Chief Eric Kaiser
Eric Kaiser is the Chief of Police for the Jourdanton, Texas Police Department and a Master Texas Peace Officer.