Sheriff’s column: A conversation about leadership
In this week’s article I was going to continue in the sharing of recommendations related to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing; however, I feel the need to spend a few moments discussing an article from this paper written last week.
The article was the result of a meeting in which damage to the Algoma community water kiosk was discussed. After providing this report on the recent damage, the first question that was asked was “Did this get reported?”
The answer to that question was “no,” which resulted in the next question, “Why not?”
It is the answer to this question which deserves some attention. The immediate answer involved some reference to a “history” that existed between myself and Superintendent Nick Cochart. My natural response was that I had not yet had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Cochart, let alone establish a history. Safe to say that both his statement as well as mine made for some good print and resulted in the potential for a strained relationship.
After putting in a call to Mr. Cochart, we did have the opportunity to discuss his concerns and had a great conversation about our role as leaders in our community. I look forward to many such conversations with Superintendent Cochart, as I believe him to be a man of integrity and dedication to our community.
The concerns that Superintendant Cochart had are unfortunately quite common. The thought is that when an act of vandalism or theft or other crimes are committed, unless there is some obvious evidence, reporting the crime is futile. This is not the case. Unlike television a majority of our cases are not solved by fingerprints or DNA samples, or satellite images. They are solved by developing relationships with our communities and sharing information from one case to another within our law enforcement agencies.
The other comment that came out of this meeting is that “law enforcement did nothing” when referring to the reporting of a past incident. Just to be clear, we always “do something.” At a minimum an officer will be sent to the complainant to derive as much information from the complainant and follow up on any and all possible information provided by the complainant.
Unfortunately, after the initial complaint the matter may seem as though it has been forgotten. Let me assure you, nothing gets forgotten. We have had many cases get reported only to be solved months or even years later once credible and actionable information is acquired. The key is to report any and all suspicious activity or possible damage. Regardless of evidence at the time, it will now be a permanent record for followup in the future.
The two main points I would like to leave you with are first that law enforcement has no bias. We serve our community and that means our entire community. While we, too, are members of this community, raise families, and have our own personal ideas and opinions, we do not have the luxury of allowing them into our work. We are here to protect and serve, period.
Second, we all have an obligation to leadership regardless of occupation, background, or affiliations. We should take this obligation very seriously, because whether or not we know it, we are being watched and graded by the youth of our communities. They are observing us and how we choose our words and our actions. Just as Superintendent Cochart has dedicated his life to educating our youth, we too have a role in shaping their ideas and perspectives. Let’s all be cautious of the lessons we teach, and consider the grades we would receive from the next generation.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Sheriff's column: A conversation about leadership