Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Starting In A Police Academy? Ask For A Free E-Book To Help You Be Successful

Your Police Academy Training is the Start of a Great Career

 If you or someone you know is planning on attending a law enforcement training academy in a college or technical school or a police or sheriff’s department, contact me, using the contact tab or the comments under this post (I’ll keep it private), and ask for a free e-book: Developing Your Career From Day One Until It is Done: Success In Your Police Academy.  One day soon it will be a regular published book, but for right now I’m giving it away for free to help recruits, trainees and cadets feel more comfortable about their academy training and to help them be the Outstanding Recruit they want to be.  I won’t put their email addresses on any list and won’t bother them again–it’s risk-free!

As you can know by looking at my bio information, I taught at the Denver Police Academy, served there as a lieutenant, then later as the commander when I was a captain. I teach instructional methodologies classes for academy instructors around the country and review lesson plans and test items for several academies. I wrote a book on promotional assessment center preparation and it has become a bible for thousands of officers. The bottom line is that I do know how academies work and how trainees can be more successful.

I also have seen many recruits come and go and never be the outstanding trainee or officer they wanted to be. I would like to prevent that in those who have the commitment and capabilities of being more and doing more.

Contact me–double check for accuracy on the email address–and I will send the material. I would like to know a little about the person who is asking for it  and what their law enforcement goals are,  but only what the person is comfortable sharing.  It will be an invaluable and unique resource–and there is nothing else like it available anywhere else.

Police service is public service and law enforcement agencies need ethical, knowledgeable, skillful, fit and effective officers. The law enforcement training academy is where it starts!

June 29th, 2014 Posted by | Law Enforcement Related | no comments

If You Are Doing MBWA, Find Good Things To Talk About

Early in my career with the Denver Police Department (in the early 1970’s), I worked for a short time in an assignment that reported to Chief of Police George Seaton. He had a meeting with all of us and told us that for a few months he wanted us to be out and about during each shift, observing officers and their work and letting him know of any glaring problems related to procedures.

Among his directions were: We should be obvious, not giving the appearance of sneaking around; we should assist with arrests and reports when we could; we should never appear to approve of something that we knew to be a violation of a rule or policy. Above all, he wanted us to write commendatory notes every time we could justify it.

He said, “I learned that when I was a sergeant”, (which would have been in about the early 1950’s) “You have to give people a reason to want you observing them. If you always correct something they’ll dread seeing you. If they know you’ll usually say ‘well done’, they’ll look forward to having you come by and before long they’ll connect the idea of you observing them with them doing good work.” 

Someone in the group said, “But Chief, no matter what we do or say they’ll think we’re spying on them and trying to get them in trouble. What can we do about that?” 

Chief Seaton said (probably using a lot of profanity, since that was something he was noted for), “Not a damned thing! But, some of them will understand and the others will at least know the truth, even if they don’t say it.”

All of Chief Seaton’s advice, then and at other times, has been useful many times in my professional life. I have mentioned his advice from that day in many classes for supervisors and managers. It still holds true: If you are going to do MBWA, management by walking around, to use a Tom Peters term, make those you visit look forward to seeing you.

*Make it separate from times you are required to go to an employee’s work area to ask about something. Be purposeful about what you’re doing.
*Don’t waste your time or their time with unnecessary small talk.
*See how things are going and ask a sincere question or two, if appropriate. 
*Ask the reason behind something that seems to be wrong.
*Ask for correction of anything serious enough that to continue it would be harmful in some way.
*Make a mental note to consider small-scale concerns later.
*Say or do something that means, “well done”.
*Smile.
*Move on and let everyone get back to work. 

Thanks for the advice, Chief Seaton!

September 3rd, 2012 Posted by | Law Enforcement Related, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development, Supervision and Management | 5 comments

Make Promises and Keep Them

In a February, 1942 Popular Science magazine I found this article and was intrigued by the first few paragraphs. The writer didn’t say, “J. Edgar Hoover never told us he intended to smash kidnapping rackets or stop murderous gunmen, but that’s what he did.” Instead he uses each promise Hoover made to illustrate the point of his article: J.Edgar Hoover says we’re prepared and you can trust him.

Whatever flaws might have been disclosed about Hoover later, the fact was that he and the FBI made our country more safe at a time when crime sprees by vicious criminals and their gangs were to the level of domestic terrorism. He was respected as well as feared, because he kept his promises.  

J. Edgar Hoover did two things you should do:

1. Make promises. Say what you will do and when. “I’ll have that to you by 8 a.m.” “I’ll get it done the way you want it and have it to you for review before Friday.” “We’ll take care of this for you.” “I’ll take care of that problem.”

2. Keep your promises and remind people that you did. “Attached is that write-up, as promised.” “I said I’d get that to you by Friday but we worked extra hard and have it for you today.” “I knew you were upset about that situation, so I worked on it with Jim and I’m happy to report that it’s been handled and you won’t have to deal with it again.” “I told you I’d get this approved for you by this morning and here it is” 

Say the words, to let people know that you came through not only as promised but because you promised.

Repeated broken promises are usually considered lies

Many people toss out promises they don’t ever intend to keep. “Sure, I’ll get that for you!” “No problemo, it will be done next week.” “I’ll take care of it.” Then, when the requester asks them about it on the due date, there are heavy sighs and excuses for why it isn’t yet done. 

If you remember that a broken promise is viewed by most people as having been a lie to begin with, maybe you’ll get motivated to live up to what you promised.  If you simply can’t fulfill your promise, at least let the person know the reason for your delay and get the work done ASAP. However, make sure your reason is more than, “I got really busy.”  Or,  “Yeah, I know it’s not done yet, but it wasn’t really my fault.”

Look for chances to give your word, then keep your word.

Let people know, through your commitments and the way you live up to them, that you are someone to trust–no matter how they might feel about you otherwise. One day you may not be able to deliver on a promise, but by then you will have a long history of dependability to your credit. What you’re after is to have someone say, “If he promised to have it, you don’t need to worry, it will get done.” Or, “She says it will work out fine, and if she says it you can believe it.”  Sounds good, doesn’t it?

August 7th, 2011 Posted by | Law Enforcement Related, Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 4 comments

Employee Input Has Value–But Should Be Evaluated Carefully

The most effective managers and supervisors actively seek employee ideas and opinions on a regular basis, not just when big decisions are being made. Those who are regularly doing a task may have excellent ideas for how the task can be done more efficiently or effectively. Nevertheless, it is important for managers and supervisors as well as employees to remember that ideas and opinions should be used as part of decision-making–not used in place of well thought-out decisions by managers and supervisors. 

New supervisors and managers: The idea of carefully evaluating employee input is especially crucial for new supervisors and managers. They may be anxious to build rapport with their new staff or team but do not yet have a grasp of the big picture. As a new manager don’t act too quickly in your effort to gain acceptance. Wait until you understand the totality of work and the ramifications of the ideas you are hearing.   

Ideas for one person or group may have a negative effect on others. A new form, method or process that will work very well for John or Janet may create tremendous burdens for everyone else. In addition to listening to employees, managers should communicate with other managers before making decisions that have a larger impact. Then, explain the issues as a way to help the employee learn to see the bigger picture, even if he or she still has a preference.

•Employees do not usually have the level of knowledge about larger issues that managers have–or should have.  When the Denver Police Department was planning for World Youth Day and the visit of Pope John Paul II, two officers with a lot of tenure thought it was very funny that I was looking at information on Porta-Potties. In response I asked them how many portable toilets they thought we would need for 500,000 people, how many were in the state of Colorado and what it would take to get enough here in time. After they looked at the information and realized what a challenge it would be, one of them said, “That’s the trouble with our mayor, he says yes to everything. He should have said we didn’t want World Youth Day here because it’s so much work for the city.”

•Employees ideas may be purposely or inadvertently self-serving.  Most employee suggestions don’t mention a downside or potential problem. If you’re the manager or supervisor you need to be thinking of those. When employees have suggestions about issues with which you’re not completely familiar, ask them to provide you with the things that could go wrong and how those could be avoided. Then, get other input before deciding.

A manager of a large group commented that almost all the improvement suggestions he received involved what employees thought they could stop doing for customers, what safety procedures they could eliminate or what rule was no longer needed. He said after five years he had only received two or three ideas for how employees could provide better service or be more efficient in their use of resources. His example may not be typical–but it isn’t unusual either. I think that phenomena is called human nature.

•If there are bad results, it is most likely the implementing manager or supervisor who will be held responsible, not the employees who made the suggestion.  It’s inevitable that some decisions will not work out well. Usually those are fixable and work moves on. However, managers and supervisors should have better reasons for their decisions than, “Bill and Gloria said it was the best way to do it.” Ideas should be welcomed and carefully reviewed, not welcomed and implemented without review. 

Some of the most serious or tragic errors I have heard about–or made myself–were the result of decisions based primarily on the clamoring input of staff or group members. Often they are so close to the work they see no other options–and there are nearly always options. That is why, whether we’re talking about work, government, the military, a surgical team, a family or anything else, checks and balances and unbiased input are needed.

A good rule: If you think to yourself: I’m approving this against my better judgment, use your better judgment and don’t approve it, at least not right then.

When you’re the employee with a suggestion or opinion: Make it your goal to gain the knowledge, skills and insights needed to give valuable input. Do self-evaluation of your ideas to ensure they reflect the needs of the organization and its customers and clients. Also remember that the person to whom you’re making the suggestion may respect you, like you and want to encourage you–but still have reasons for not adopting or supporting your ideas. That’s not a slight to you, just a reality of work.

The bottom line: It is a laudable concept to seek the input and ideas of employees. However,  the responsibility of managers and supervisors is to listen, evaluate and make final decisions, based on many criteria and considerations.

In the picture above, Patton was listening to a soldier–a trait for which he was well known. He was sincerely interested in the thoughts of soldiers in the field. However, you can bet he didn’t suggest a military strategy to General Eisenhower by saying, “Private Smith said the guys all want to attack from this direction because it will save time. I would hate for them to think we don’t value their input, so let’s do it their way.”

May 23rd, 2011 Posted by | Assessment Centers and Interviews, Law Enforcement Related, Personal and Professional Development, Supervision and Management | 5 comments