Disclaimer: it has been my experience that when people use the phrase “brutally honest” they are about to say something hurtful or believe that gives them the right to be a jerk. That’s not the kind of honesty that I am talking about here.
“Transparency” is a word that is used a lot in law enforcement right now. And I am all for it. Very little of what we do is “secret squirrel” and must be hidden. I also believe that it is a necessary component to repair the trust issues our profession has with the public. In fact, I’m such a big fan of transparency I think it’s prevalence should be expanded to a host of government activities - but that’s a whole different blog.
One thing that bothers me is that sometimes the transparency - think honesty - goes only one way. When one of our members does something wrong, we are quick to admit that we made a mistake. Sometimes in a brutally honest way. And I’m all for it if the evaluation was done properly and due process was followed.
But what about the times - which represent the majority of incidents - when our people were spot on? When we did the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons?
Leaders should be just as transparent and honest as they are when we err. If our people acted appropriately and it was the person they were dealing with that did something wrong, leaders should be willing to call it out.
Point out when we screw it up. It’s about being accountable for our actions. But speaking the truth also includes when we do something right. Even when it’s something we wish could have been avoided. Truth is it couldn’t be avoided in most cases - not because of our people’s actions - but because of the actions of someone else. Be transparent. Speak the truth.