Police training is slowly shifting from the promotion of robotic canned responses, to embracing the universal human dialect of empathy.Read More
I’ve been on a journey for the past few years. The path has led me to many realizations that have radically changed the way I serve as a Police Officer, School Resource Officer, Educator, Counselor, Friend and Parent. I realized that for anyone to be truly “in service,” we must drop our preconceived perceptions of others. There is a transformative power that comes when our actions reflect this new attitude.
School began last week in my community and I addressed the new, nervous and lovingly nutty seventh graders with a speech to introduce myself. As a recovering Type-A, I’ve learned to put down the scripted lecture and note cards, and speak from the heart. Consequently, I had many positive interactions and several transformative experiences last week. I’m sharing my observations to outline ways in which YOU can transform your perceptions and be of true service to others.
A student came into my office, made eye-contact and shook my hand while saying, “I just wanted to introduce myself.” I saw him as a personable young man who exuded kindness, good character and respect. I know that others may see him differently; male, a football player, a teenager, black, and intimidatingly tall for his age. Think for a moment (and be honest)...what are you perceptions of: football players? size? teenagers? black males? Our implicit bias hinders our ability to create meaningful relationships with others, thus it’s imperative we consciously fight to reduce and exonerate this.
The first step is awareness: drawing attention to our opinions and biases.
In the middle of the week, we identified several students who had extreme anxiety over the obligatory "first week of school" fire drill. A couple of our students were crippled with fear, unable to feel safe and secure in their learning environment. It would have been easy to judge these students by saying, “they’re just playing it up to get out of class” or “they need to grow-up.” Instead of judging, I empathized; they must feel so frightened... how can I help them work through this without dismissing their fears? In times like these, I often go back to the L.E.A.P. Model and bring the village together. I coordinated a meeting with the Fire Chief, Fire Lieutenant, School Assistant Principal and Guidance Counselor. I thought about L.E.A.P. and how this team could use our Leadership skills to Empower these children to successfully evacuate, while being Aware of their emotional response, to Protect them from potential emergency situations. Our coordinated response was a success, and the children and their families were appreciative of our efforts.
The second step is empathy: the ability to understand and share the thoughts, feelings and emotions of another.
Towards the end of the week, I talked with a new Staff Member (who I will refer to as SM). I introduced myself and the most inspiring conversation ensued. SM came from another district, vastly different from ours. She works tirelessly to achieve her goals, and still has a ways to go to reach her dream job. SM shared her excitement, fears, and emotions about this next chapter in her career. I listened, mindfully, and then shared that I have experienced those same fears and emotions at various times in my life. I thought about her difficult path to success, and how proud I was to know someone like her. I wanted to encourage her to keep going, and show that I cared about her success. I gave her a copy of one of my favorite motivational books that has helped me on my own path (I think I am going to re-read my own copy this week).
The third step is mindfulness: paying attention (on purpose) with kindness and curiosity.
My advice for you? Continue down your path of service with the steps above in mind, and develop a daily practice that is rooted in intention.
1. Take a minute in the morning to recite the following phrase (or come up with your own):
"I will act with kind, curious, and compassionate awareness today, for both myself and others."
2. Come back to this phrase throughout the day when needed. Are you practicing kindness, curiosity and empathy? Are you noticing any biases or opinions you hold? If so, just bring awareness to it.
3. At the end of the day, reflect on whether or not this intention had a positive effect on yourself and others today.
Journey well and walk easy on the path. Remember, you are a work in progress!
I found that we became natural observers of the world we live in – a world that is far more beautiful when you’re paying attention. I felt in awe of this new world, seeing it not only with my own eyes, but through the eyes of my child. I found that though we saw the world differently, we could collaborate to figure out the mysteries that unfolded before us.Read More
When I started working with youth, I knew I wanted to help them make good choices and avoid risky behaviors. It became my mission to understand the root causes of their actions, instead of putting a band aid on the problem. I learned that most risks are a product of the developing brain that is wired for just that – independence, and subsequent bad decisions. I learned that many of our kids have experienced trauma, which manifests itself in a number of negative, unhealthy behaviors. Finally, I learned that our kids lacked skills for self-awareness and emotional regulation.Read More
Alas, the final days of school are here! Many parents are busy rushing from one event to the next, as the end of the year brings many school, club and sport celebrations. We love showing up for these events, hoping we can get that front row seat to see our child perform. We relish in these incredible moments, seeing our grade schooler perform in their end-of-year show, or our high schooler receive an award.
We want the front seat for these moments.Read More
To Serve and Protect:
When I self-reflected on the motto to serve, I realized I could do better. I loved my job, but often felt defeated from observing the ills of society; the domestic violence, child neglect, substance abuse, and more. I didn’t think there was anything more I could do than to “show-up” when there was a problem. I often had the compassion and intention to help, but felt limited in my abilities and resources. I later realized I was providing a temporary solution that didn’t acknowledge the cause of the problem. I also struggled with whether it was my job to help solve this problem.Read More
Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Police Officers are in the business of providing the cure, and often times, that cure is a temporary band aid for a problem that existed long before the police arrived.
The public has learned that police work is largely reactive. Can you see the headlines? “Police search for woman accused of attacking employees.” “Two men arrested, drugs and guns recovered.” “Police arrest two after lengthy pursuit.” More recently, a shadow has been cast over the profession, painting an extremely narrow picture of the daily activities of police officers.Read More