The challenge for law enforcement leaders today is to bridge the gap between their present effectiveness and their potential greatness.
Jim Rohn (Motivational Counselor)
Let us not share the misleading perception that the present effectiveness of law enforcement is the only sine qua non for the position of Leon County Sheriff. Effectiveness of course, is critical, particularly in terms of the day-to-day field operations and traditional duties that must be accomplished to ensure that life, limb, and property are protected to the maximum extent possible. However, to rely solely upon “present effectiveness” as the correct and only path for future law enforcement activities and long-term strategies is akin to arguing that the old (yet effective in its day) manual typewriter will remain the best means for producing written communications.
My opponent has publicly stated that I do not have the hands-on field experience to serve as your Sheriff. He is as mistaken about this assertion as he has been about so many others. My 30-plus years of law enforcement experience range from serving as a patrol officer to serving as Chief of Police. I have been actively on-scene and investigated offenses ranging from underage drinking, to armed robberies, to homicides. I have actively participated in, witnessed, investigated, and resolved criminal cases too numerous to cite. I am fully experienced in and knowledgeable of law enforcement activities at the street level and above. The operational and leadership skills I have developed and nurtured throughout three decades are fully transferable to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office.
Yet, street-level experience is not the main reason why I am running for Sheriff or so firmly believe that the current leadership is so short-sighted in its vision of what the Sheriff’s Office can and should be—both as a professional organization and as an asset to the citizens it serves. Leadership, particularly within the law enforcement environment, involves a great deal more than knowledge of and experience with street-level activities. It requires critical, innovative, and long-term thinking about what can be done that is better than “present effectiveness.” It requires creating and effecting a vision that transforms present effectiveness into “excellence,” or to restate Jim Lohn’s words, “potential greatness.” My lifelong record and accomplishments speak for themselves regarding my philosophy and actions pertaining to the leadership function within a law enforcement agency.
I need not restate my platform here—you know what I stand for and what I plan to accomplish.
Succinctly put, my platform is innovative, pro-active, and fully cognizant that the only constant in this life is change. And change, the inevitable force that it is, requires a more dynamic, forward-looking leadership than what the current Sheriff has demonstrated or is capable of demonstrating.
Security expert Rick Michelson, writing in the June, 2006 issue of Police Chief Magazine,noted that “ . . to effect change, one must see the need for the change, plan for the change, implement the change, and then evaluate the success or failure of the change.” In essence, change, whether we like it or not, is the most crucial issue facing the future of law enforcement. The main task of the leader, thus, is to take every effort to ensure that the changes he or she effects are those that are necessary and most beneficial to the law enforcement agency and those it protects and serves. Michelson further argues, “ . . . if a department doesn’t have solid leadership, with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to plan, organize, and direct others, the department is less likely to recognize theneed [emphasis added] for change and carry it out.”
I embrace such a task. The status quo, or “present effectiveness,” is simply not good enough. Nobody can deny the critical importance of maintaining and improving street-level and investigative operations. What has been denied by some, however, is the absolute need to expand law enforcement leaders’ horizons to include knowledge of best practices and future trends that will most certainly challenge the future effectiveness of what we can and must do. Some of these best practices include, but are not limited to, the improvement of:
• Communications—technical and interpersonal.
• Decision-making—making the right decision at the right time.
• Interpersonal effectiveness—interacting positively and beneficially with others.
• Leadership style—one that motivates and directs, rather than one that relies simply upon rigid authority.
• Administrative effectiveness—effectiveness that not only accomplishes goals, but accomplishes them most efficiently.
• Flexibility—the ability to change one’s outlook based upon the reality of change or ineffectiveness of past practices.
• Planning and organization—plan for the agency’s future, organize to make the plan workable, and then work the plan.
In other words, your Sheriff must develop and utilize a problem-solving mindset. I have developed and utilized such a mindset my entire career and will continue to utilize such a mindset as your Sheriff. One does not develop and/or utilize such a mindset simply for the sake of change, in and of itself. Rather, it is the only mindset that is prepared to meet and overcome the inevitable challenges that will confront us (whether we want them or not). Inevitable changes that we must plan for are numerous and complex. Woe be it to the law enforcement agency and the citizenry if the law enforcement executive pays only “lip service” to emerging trends such as computer crimes, technical advances, partnering with the community, prevention, emergency management, dealing with the mentally ill and emotionally distraught, human relations, alternatives to confinement, ad infinitum.
Inexperienced?? Lacking the right skills?? Hogwash!! My experience and skills are not only grounded in my street-level experiences, but, moreover, have been expanded to recognize and embrace the change-focused leadership that we need, deserve, and require.
Candidate For Leon County Sheriff