There’s a danger that I’m going to start repeating myself…
But, I wonder whether some of us have started to lose sight of what policing is – what it is that we’re here to do; what it is that we stand for…
The job of a police officer isn’t to count things; it’s to save lives.
The job of a police officer isn’t to fill out spreadsheets; it’s to find the lost.
The job of a police officer isn’t to do what’s convenient or expedient; it’s to confront the violent and pursue the dangerous.
The job of a police officer isn’t to run round in circles in response to the latest headline; it’s to follow the evidence, without fear or favour.
The job of a police officer isn’t to satisfy the whims of the uninformed; it’s to protect the vulnerable and comfort the mourning.
The job of a police officer isn’t to walk on by… Sometimes, the job of a police officer is to risk it all.
The fact that we don’t always get those things right (and, let’s be honest, sometimes we get them spectacularly wrong) doesn’t make them any less true.
It seems to me that we may be in danger of losing the plot.
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of attending the Commissioner’s annual awards ceremony.
And I sat and listened to the stories:
• Of the two PCs from Bexley who challenged an armed and exceptionally dangerous man. One of them was shot;
• Of the two PCs from Southwark who fought with a knife-wielding maniac. One of them was stabbed;
• Of the two DCs and a DS in South East London who entered a burning building and saved the lives of two children;
• Of the ‘Super Recogniser’ – a Police Staff member working in Custody at West End Central – who identified 368 criminals in a single 12 month period
• Of the Police Cadet who lost his Dad when he was 8 and his Mum when he was 16 – and who stood in front of us as an absolute triumph of a human being;
• Of the DI from Specialist Crime who led an investigation into an Organised Criminal Gang resulting in 68 arrests and the seizures of 15 firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and 200 kilos of Class A drugs;
• Of the endlessly brave and compassionate and resilient and brilliant and kind.
They are policing.
And I salute them all.
At the same time, I wonder whether some of us have also lost sight of what police leadership is; what it is that we’re here to do; what it is that we stand for.
The first job of a police leader is to put people first every time – both those we serve and those we serve alongside.
The job of a police leader is to listen; and to hear; and to do something about what’s being said.
The job of a police leader is to get out of the way, to make things easier not harder – to enable our best people to keep on doing what they do best, without the endless and unnecessary obstacles that we throw in their paths.
The job of a police leader is to celebrate relentlessly the achievements of our officers and staff – whilst also challenging, swiftly and even-handedly, those who fall short.
The job of a police leader is also to challenge the hostility of the misguided and the malevolent.
The job of a police leader is, on occasions, to say sorry.
The job of a police leader is to explain why change is necessary – and how it is going to make us better at what we do.
The job of a police leader is to understand the consequences of reform, the difference between a saving and a cut – and the compound impact of all that has happened in recent years.
The job of a police leader is also to explain that everything can’t be a priority – that there are some things that just have to matter more.
At no point is it the job of a police leader to put themselves and their own career aspirations ahead of the good of everyone else.
And the job of a police leader has to be about more than just fine-sounding words.