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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Don't hide it in the catbox

We all err

Excerpts from a Police Officer’s comments (in a newsletter):

“The law enforcement profession is a culture where we eat our own. We don’t discriminate; we eat our own regardless of age, service, sex, size, color or department.”

That is true in spades for Costa Mesa citizens – we attack our own (politicians) incessantly.  

“’If I was there (or I was the Mayor) I would have...’ What comes after that is a fairy tale . . . the only people who know what they would have done are those who were actually there—and they know what they did.

“There is no value in second-guessing and criticizing the actions of other(s). They likely did the best they could at that moment with the tools, training, knowledge and resources available to them. We have all screwed up more than once. Most of us were fortunate enough not to have it captured on video or to have it become a headline story.”  

And here is a key point:

“I'm not suggesting there is no value in examining videos or case studies of incidents. If done properly, there can be tremendous value in these reviews. It’s time to . . . (use) the information to be constructive – to improve our own abilities.”

An alternative to examining the incident’s errors is to cover them up. We can hide something we don't want others to see: cats hide their droppings to avoid alerting predators – to avoid attack.

Surveys that hide criticism instead of evaluating it have similar goals but different consequences. Predators are delayed, but followers are alienated as well. Burying mistakes in the cat box feels good now but it prevents everyone involved from learning how to do a better job next time.

Will the cat box work

Will this accomplish anything (beyond keeping survey responses minimal)? Will putting descriptions of the errors made in the cat box keep the problems hidden? Will people be fooled?

It will probably fool some. And it will fuel the expected screams from those who hate and distrust the regime. No matter, these predators will criticize regardless

The damage, though, is silent. Those who had their criticism stifled or ignored – or worse, rewritten – remember, and move quietly toward opposition. They lose their trust – and loyalty.

And those who could have learned and grown hide in their citadels of denial. The department or the City remains unimproved. The cat box remains full.

Rx for deterioration

The disgusted won’t help to improve the department or the City. They'll survey job ads, looking for departments that they can respect to join. Or as disgruntled citizens they’ll cast disgruntled votes.

In the long run, it’s better to clean out the cat box.

Author’s note:  This post is about citizensCMPD to the best of my knowledge is well-led, has good morale and makes profitable use of feedback.

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