Always Growing, Jones Loflin

Always Growing—How to Be a Strong Leader in Any Season

Jones Loflin

As any cop will tell you, we assume a leadership role the day we hit the road. I spent too long assuming I would pick it all up as I went along. Turns out there is a whole world of leadership resources out there. In the past 2 years, I have been picking up a ton of books on leadership, and this past Christmas, my future in-laws were kind enough to indulge my reading habits. I received a book called Always Growing- How to be a Strong Leader in Any Season. It’s a fictional account of “David” accepting a leadership role at his company. Facing challenges with his new team, he turns to his sister, “Kelly,” who runs a successful orchard. What follows are a multitude of conversations between David and Kelly and David and his team mates. Kelly gives valuable lessons to David about agriculture that David metaphorically applies to the business world. It’s cheesy and very eye-roll inducing at times, but I’ll be damned if a lot of it didn’t make sense. Broken down into 4 parts: Grow, Cultivate, Prune, and Harvest; David learns lessons along the way to make his team as successful as possible. He “Grows” the team by making a plan, figuring out what his team needs to implement the plan, and providing the right environment to promote growth. He “Cultivates” his team by staying involved in the plan and ensuring nothing interferes with the growth. He “Prunes” his team helping them cut out things that might not contribute the most to their growth. Finally, he “Harvests.” The “Harvest” is the reaping of the rewards and celebrating the results.

As far as law enforcement, I think the most significant section to me was the section on “Pruning.” Starting out, cops need to establish their roots. They need to get a good foundation of all aspects of law enforcement to build on. I think as we cops start to grow, we all naturally start to find a niche that we enjoy. We might need to start pruning things out to make ourselves the most effective contributing member of our team. I’ve worked on squads where nobody focuses and just wants to do it all. I’ve also worked on squads where everybody has a skill set that stands out. We do a lot of work on our own out here, but when we combine the skills and efforts of everyone on the squad, we can get more done. We have guys who are great at dope work, we have guys who are great at interviewing, guys who are great at DUI investigations. To get to where we all are, we’ve had to decide where we wanted to go, and start saying no to opportunities that might stretch us too thin. We’ve had to self prune to make sure we can focus our energies on things we are best at. The author says to “prune at the first sign of undesirable outcomes.” I think from a leadership standpoint, this is key. Personally, I have had to make decisions on what to prune in my own career. I personally think I have good people skills. I removed myself from the Emergency Response Team and since then have moved on as an Instructor and a Hostage/Crisis Negotiator. I knew I could never be a negotiator if I was still on the team, so I had to prune in one place to grow in another.

To summarize, I liked the book. It was a very quick and easy read. I may never read the whole book again, and it might not be the first book I hand to someone else, but it has a lot of valuable information and I’d definitely recommend it if you get a chance to read it. The end of the book summarizes all the points made throughout and those points are pretty simple to understand without all of the context. Jones Loflin brings a lot to the table with this book as far as leadership principles. It’s very metaphor heavy, but it’s not as exhausting of a read as most leadership books. I’d give it a 7/10.

Gideon Falls, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino

Every town has a secret; but the secrets of Gideon Falls may be more sinister than others. Father Wilfred has been sent to lead the town’s church after it’s  leader, Father Tom, died mysteriously. What mystery does Father Tom’s death hold? In this first issue, Father Wilfred is unwillingly drawn into the darkness. Alternatively, we see Norton, with a deeper motivation to delve into Gideon Falls’ evils. Is Norton’s motivation pure or purely the product of mental illness? Will it really matter in the end? Gideon Falls, the latest from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, the powerhouse team from Green Arrow reunite to bring a new horror book to Image Comics. From just the first issue, I highly recommend adding this book to your Descender and Royal City pulls. Sorrentino’s vivid beautiful art style, combined with Lemire’s ability to introduce story lines that will inevitably collide, create a book I am honestly excited about picking up going forward. Debuting in March 2018. Contact your local comic shop for more details.

The Last on Courtesy from Elements of Police Science

This will wrap up the chapter on courtesy as briefly as possible. I’m working on a way to summarize all the courtesy points from several sources into one compact write-up that I might post here. Hopefully it’s worth a damn.

Our author is brief but specific in his expectations of personal appearance and tone. He points out that appearance is accepted as going hand in hand with ability. While well dressed men may not make the best officers, the best officers should present themselves in a clean professional manner so as to exude confidence in their ability. Take a bath, shave, wash your hands, cut your hair, and brush your teeth. These all seem like basic points, but he felt the need to present them. An entire paragraph is dedicated to bad breath. If you can’t get rid of bad breath, he goes so far as to recommend medical help! Basically, wash your ass, shine your brass, and shave. That’s the best way I can summarize this section.

His next section covers tone. “Every time you speak, you touch someone with your voice.” “Ninety percent of all the friction of daily life is caused by mere tone of voice.” The author suggests you not talk too loudly, don’t mumble, but don’t enunciate every single word. He recommends a low pleasant voice. Personally, I have found that about 90% of my interactions are best facilitated by a quiet voice. Raising my voice in a tense situation occasionally calms it down, but a soft voice has been far more effective.

The chapter continues with instructions on how to act patriotically in regards to the flag. There is also a ridiculously detailed section on dining etiquette. I suppose back in the day, police officers were held in a higher regard in society and dined with important people. The author felt officer’s needed instruction on how to hold a spoon, which fork to use, and how to hold a glass. It’s crazy to think how far things have changed. I’ll skip those details, as they are excruciatingly boring.

We end with the section “Courtesy Pays.” In the same sense as karma, the author explains that being courteous will return great rewards for those who take the time. While never being able to point to a single action we perform, the small things we do daily, added up, can enhance the respect and support we receive from the public. The only tangible immediate return we see is the feeling in our heart. We’ll never get rich doing this job; however, the feeling of accomplishment we receive from what we do shouldn’t be ignored. Sometimes, that’s all we get. We also can’t ignore the impact our interactions have on the public. “The whole life of a person in his outlook on law and officers of the law may be involved in a minor contact with him. An unthinking act of discourtesy may embitter him or a simple display of consideration and thoughtfulness make him an ally on the side of law and order.”

I’ll close with a few personal stories about how I think courtesy can affect our attitudes towards law enforcement.

My Dad told me a story of when he was a teenager he had a flat tire while in bad weather, and had no tools. An officer, with tools, stopped and helped him change that tire without complaining. Without that officer, Dad would have been stranded. Dad told me the way that officer did his job, and  how he was helping him in his hour of need, left an impression on him. He said he admired the officer so much he wanted to become an officer himself.

If we rewind a few years, my Dad was a child. His family wasn’t flush with money. They got by but vacations were few and far between. He told me of a time when Grandpa had hyped a camping trip. All the kids were excited. He said they had the car loaded up and had just pulled out. They weren’t far from home when Grandpa got pulled over. I don’t recall the infraction, but Grandpa got a ticket. He didn’t argue. He didn’t complain. He accepted the ticket, and then he turned around and told everyone, “Well, sorry, guys, we can’t go camping.” That ticket was enough to set them back that Grandpa couldn’t afford the trip any more. As a child, I cannot imagine how much you have to hate that cop for ruining your trip. Maybe Grandpa deserved the ticket, but a child probably doesn’t care. I tell these two examples to show how a single act from a cop could totally influence someone’s opinion on us. In every single thing you do, be cognizant of the potential ramifications. Sometimes we have to do things that suck. Sometimes we can’t cut breaks when we want to. But just keep in mind what’s at stake.

The coming chapters cover witness testimony, photography, fingerprints, and a whole lotta other potentially outdated stuff. I’ll skip most of it. If there’s anything of interest in those chapters, I’ll try to include it in more interesting write-ups. Again, if you have questions, opinions, comments, feel free to comment or email. I’m interested in other viewpoints.

More Police Courtesy, Olander

Conduct at the Desk

I work for a smaller agency that doesn’t necessarily have a desk officer. If people have questions, they often call our dispatch center and we get a message to call them back to answer their questions. In a sense, I guess we’re all desk officers

Olander reminds us to always have a pleasant and courteous attitude. Even the silliest and seemingly small calls should be treated with the same professionalism as the serious ones. “If the request is for something that cannot be granted or that does not come under the jurisdiction of the police, it can be politely explained or refused by saying ‘I am sorry, but your request is beyond the authority of the police,’ or “we would be glad to help you, but it does not come under our jurisdiction.” This book was written a LONG time ago. It seems just about everything has become the responsibility of the police. If you can find a tactful way of effectively explaining to someone that something is just not a police manner WITHOUT them getting upset, I’d love to hear it!

Promptly greet people, and greet them pleasantly, as they enter the office. Assure them you will get to their needs as soon as is reasonable possible. Offer a place to sit if one is available. Olander felt the need to point out that it is not rude to ask a person’s name if they fail to offer it. It seemed an unusual point to make, so it made me wonder if something has changed since them. Do not patronize people who are young or old. Never act as though the office is your private space, and the person has intruded.

Appear interested. Be patient and tolerant, even if the person is vague or rambling. “If you find it necessary to dismiss him, do it politely by saying you have another engagement, or in whatever way courteously fits the occasion.” I’m not sure Olander expressly endorses pressing your earpiece, feigning listening, and then explaining you have a call, but it seems to fit his rules.

Phone Courtesy

In 1937, while telephones were in wide usage, no one, including the author, could have predicted the increase in phone calls in today’s society. Now more than ever before in the past, it is important to know how to effectively communicate via telephone. Olander stressed that it’s not so much WHAT is said to the caller but HOW it is said. He stresses that the very first words that are spoken might determine the effectiveness of the phone call. The tone of your voice should convey a helpful “at your service” attitude. When answering, answer with your agency and name to avoid wasting time. Have a pen and paper handy so as not to waste anyone’s time. Pay attention to avoid having the caller repeat themselves.

These were very short sections in the chapter but I think it reinforces a lot of points as well as covers some things that while seemingly common sense, we may have all struggled with over time. I think most cops naturally start to lose some of their courtesy over time. We deal with “The Public” every single day. It tends to wear on us. We get annoyed because we deal with the same silly stuff all too often. But I think we tend to forget that for these people interacting with us, it might be their first interaction with police. Whatever they are reporting might be so profound in their peaceful life, yet seem so minor compared to what we deal with daily.

The next few sections are about presentation. Stay tuned.

Like, comment, share, message. This blog is new, and VERY lightly read but I’m always open for discussion if you’re interested. I’ve picked up some other books lately that I’m hoping to get to. Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

 

Top 5 Gifts for YOUR NerdCop

5. Casio G-Shock Watch

There are so many variations on G-Shock watches, you’ll have to decide what your personal preferences are. But I have worn a G-Shock for years now and I can’t imagine wearing anything else on duty. I have worn expensive watches on duty and they’ve gotten damaged searching cars. I’ve worn cheap Wal-Mart watches and the bands on them have broken off during arrests. Not until I got a G-Shock did I have a mid-price range, but durable heavy duty watch on my wrist. I will link to the watch I wear, but they are available in a multitude of models and colors. Mine cost less than $55 and aside from replacing a watch battery once and replacing the little loop you tuck the excess strap into, it has operated flawlessly. Casio has recently introduced stainless steel watches. I am hard pressed to replace my watch, because it doesn’t need replacing, but the steel watches are gorgeous. They’re priced a little higher but I wouldn’t expect anything less than the best quality for that price.

http://amzn.to/2yT5aTX

4. Edge Eyewear

Much like my watch situation, I have learned some expensive lessons with on-duty eyewear. I have lost expensive sunglasses while on a perimeter. My rifle sling knocked them off my head on a nighttime perimeter. (I would leave my sunglasses on my head all night so I didn’t lose them. Real effective, right?) I also tried the cheap gas station sunglasses. Those would break going on my big head. One day, I found an amazing deal on some Edge Eyewear Dakura’s. I even got a free pair because of a glitch in the ordering system. I kinda feel bad about it. Kinda. Anyways, the Dakura’s were the first pair of sunglasses that I felt really fit my face. They weren’t too big, and they weren’t too tight. Edge also has a tactical eyewear division, but the Dakura’s are part of their safety glasses. I probably go through a pair a year, but I am pretty abusive to them. Whenever I go on vacation, I buy a new pair. I won’t travel without two pairs of them.  My next purchase might be for some of their tactical sunglasses. Or I might just stick with what I know works. I’ll link to what I wear.

dakura

http://amzn.to/2B7FSY9

3. Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

I have written before about my affinity for reading and studying leadership and management tactics. Extreme Ownership, written by Navy SEALs, might be the definitive book on effective leadership. Based on the premise that as a leader, if things go right, everybody had a part in it, but if things go wrong, its the leader’s fault. Jocko, who also has a great podcast which I recommend, tells a story about a friendly fire incident that occurred when he was in charge. He could have blamed any number of different things that went wrong, however, he took full responsibility for the incident. In doing so, he earned the respect of his subordinates and his peers. Throughout the book, the authors alternate writing chapters. They use battlefield experience and relate it to the business world and private sector management and leadership. It’s a book I will come back to many times in the coming years. Personally, this book has helped me in my own life by recognizing how much responsibility I have in everything that goes on around me. I make fewer excuses for my mistakes and own up to my faults. For less than $17 on Amazon, I recommend this to/for anyone hoping to advance their professional life.

extremeownership.jpg

http://amzn.to/2CWY8Rq

2. Salomon Shoes

Before our trip to Hawaii, I knew I needed a new pair of shoes that I could use for hiking. I had heard so many great things about Salomon shoes, but I had never worn any. I got a wild hair one day and ordered a pair of Salomon XA Pro 3D. I got them in and I wasn’t entire sold on them. I usually wear Danner boots and Nike sneakers. These fit differently. I wasn’t entire sure of them until we went hiking in the Iao Valley in Maui. Hopping on boulders across the river coming down the mountain, we tried in vain to keep our shoes dry. I slipped and one shoe fully submerged. I knew there was no drying it out, so I put the other shoe in the water. It was probably the most liberating event of the day. Despite having wet socks and wet shoes, they fit snugly enough I wasn’t bothered with the usual looseness and slippage I’d experience with other shoes. We were able to hike throughout the day, repeatedly submerging the shoes and then hiking further. Since we got home and the weather turned, I haven’t had the opportunity to hike with them again. They have become near daily wear shoes and there have been no negative effects from being water logged and dried repeatedly. I can’t speak to the other styles, but these are a new favorite.

Salomon XA

http://amzn.to/2BbUPIH

Finally, NUMBER 1!

ALPHA BRAIN by ONNIT

This product is probably the single best supplement I have ever taken. I heard about it from Jocko and Echo on the Jocko Podcast. They swore by it. They kept talking about how it increases focus and memory. They even mentioned it’s ability to bring about lucid dreaming. My fiance and I took it before bed one night and we both slept like absolute shit. Turns out, you’re not supposed to take it within like 6 hours of bedtime. So I took it again in the morning. This isn’t some magic pill that motivates me. If I take it and lay around like a lazy bum, I’m the most focused lazy bum ever. If I take it and start a project, I have found myself getting distracted less, being more dedicated to finishing the project, and actually accomplishing things faster because I’m not deviating to side projects as much. Alpha Brain is now one of my daily supplements. I’m only taking 1 instead of 2 because I live on a cop’s salary and two a day stretches the budget. So far, 1 has been plenty. I’ll stay on it as long as it’s effective. I recommend trying it. Unfortunately, I have to recommend getting it from Amazon and two-day shipping. Shipping from Onnit is a little OFFIT. The last time I ordered direct, I was disappointed in shipping times.

Alphabrain

http://amzn.to/2B9wvr1

There you have it folks, the Top 10 Things I recommend for the NerdCop in YOUR life. Stay tuned. After Christmas, I might do a Top 10 List of things I didn’t get for Christmas but still might want for my birthday!

Thanks for reading. If you agree, disagree, have tried any of these products and ALSO love them, feel free to message or comment. Like and share!