Treat People Right
Category: Law Enforcement
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement.
Every contact we make, whether we are on-duty or off-duty, also leaves a trace. An impression.
Today’s tip is focused on law enforcement, but it really applies to everyone. It deals with treating people right. And I have to give credit for this Tip to a long-time friend. He served as Superintendent of the Police Service of Northern Ireland until last June. His name is Ken Pennington.
Let’s start with a basic premise that most of us are familiar with. The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is a similar commandment found in Mosaic Law. “Whatever is hurtful to you, do not do to any other person.” You can probably see where I’m going with this.
Here’s a slightly different analogy. If you’ve studied forensics or crime scene investigation, you may remember Locard’s Principle. Every physical contact leaves a trace. The same is true with our contacts with people. Every contact we make, whether we are on-duty or off-duty, also leaves a trace. An impression. Every person carries with them the memory of their last police contact. Or their last contact with a firefighter or custody officer. And this will certainly influence their demeanor next time.
I am reminded of a story from my friend Superintendent Pennington. He tells when he was working a roadside checkpoint. Acting on intelligence that a large bomb may be in transit. He encountered a young mother and her two children. He didn’t know if she was hostile or friendly. But he treated her with courtesy and respect. The young lady ended up telling him that an ambush awaited him and his colleagues. Her actions prevented bloodshed and saved police officers’ lives that day. Superintendent Pennington will tell you that he believes the woman was returning his kindness. And that his kindness likely saved his life.
Our jobs are essentially about people. And about helping them stay safe. We are public servants. We rely on the support of those we serve. People make decisions every day about whether to help us. And about what to tell us. Let’s make it easy for them.
Innocent citizens, and even criminal suspects, will respond positively to professionalism, dignity, and respect. The dividends for treating people right are huge. For you. For your coworkers. For everyone in your profession. And for society. The kindness you show today may literally save a life. Just like it did for Superintendent Pennington.
And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.