FEATURED IN LEADERSHIP
It was Friday afternoon. The day watch was coming off duty and the night watch hitting the streets. Normally on Friday, everyone is eager to change into their civvies and get on the freeway before the big get out of town rush. But quite a few day officers were hanging around the watch commander s office.
I asked my secretary, Mary Helen, what was going on. They re waiting for the Investigation of the Week to be posted. It s usually up before they go end of watch, she said.
I apologized and quickly sat down to review three investigative reports that had been recommended by supervisors. One stood out from the rest. I circled with a red felt pen several things the investigator had done that went beyond the norm. I also scribbled some comments that called attention to the superb conclusions and prosecution recommendations the investigation established.
Mary Helen posted it, and the officers swarmed around. I could hear some of their comments. Most were positive and complimentary. A few were attempts at humor, to minimize the accomplishments of their peer and ridicule the award. But their actions revealed the truth they placed a high level of importance on this recognition.
Investigation of the Week was not my idea. A sergeant suggested this simple acknowledgement of diligent work. I initially had resisted his idea, explaining we were dealing with adults who might view such a program juvenile or patronizing. This Friday afternoon event proved me wrong; recognition is important regardless of age or sophistication.
Rewarding the Positive
Aggressively seeking good performance is part of an overall attitude of optimism. Optimistic people keep their eyes on an objective and are not consumed by the obstacles. They also don t deny the presence of challenges or negative issues, but properly identify and address problems. Optimistic people also make conscious efforts to be positive; they encourage.
Those of us with supervisory or training responsibilities are naturally drawn to correcting shortcomings or sub-standard performance. This is only natural and should not be neglected. On the other hand, we must be just as eager to catch our officers doing something good. Everyone enjoys their hard work or sincere commitment noticed and rewarded. It can be very discouraging to have one s work scrutinized only for flaws or failures and rarely, if ever, examined for diligence, quality or successes.
One detective commander I know established an Inspector Clouseau award. He had a unique trophy custom made, which was awarded each month to a detective who displayed a high level of investigative ability. The detective s name was inscribed on the trophy, and the trophy was placed on their desk for the month. It was a big hit.
Here are some factors that can indicate investigative excellence:
1. Creativity and diligence in evidence collection;
2. Communication and coordination with uniformed officers;
3. Solved cases or clearance rate;
4. Arrests of suspects;
5. Interrogation effectiveness;
6. Stolen property recovery rate;
7. Filing rate;
8. Conviction rate;
9. Excellent documentation; and
Here are some practical suggestions you can implement to acknowledge the accomplishments of your staff:
1. Adopt a policy to focus on accomplishments and the pursuit of excellence, as well as deficiencies and sub-standard performance.
2. Remember the adage, Chew out in private and reward in public.
3. Don t cheapen recognition. When rewards or compliments are given for non-significant actions, they lose their impact.
4. Discuss your intentions within your sphere of influence to help determine the most appropriate means of recognizing and rewarding. (Each group has its own cultural atmosphere.)
5. Announce the recognition program to the staff. It may be best to put the details of the program into a document to ensure fairness.
6. Don t give in to the temptation to give everyone their turn at being rewarded if they don t deserve it. This will destroy credibility.
Taking an optimistic approach to overseeing investigations can reap bountiful results. A conscious goal to find and reward investigative excellence will encourage the achievers as well as stimulate the others—on point.