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Leadership and Doing More with Less

Written by Brian Boetig

During turbulent economic climates, law enforcement agencies are called upon to provide more services with fewer resources. Yet one item that can neither be bought nor cut from a budget is leadership. Executives must develop creative methods to provide additional services with decreasing capital while continuing to motivate employees to fulfill the agency’s core mission: protecting the community.

Identifying and leveraging existing assets is the foundation for evolving this leadership opportunity from an idea to an accomplishment. First, capitalize on the skills of current employees. Many agencies hire employees because of their unique skills or educational backgrounds but then fail to tap into those resources in advancement of the agency’s mission.

For example, an employee hired as a patrol officer may have nudged out another candidate for the job because he earned a college degree in business administration. The patrol officer should be tasked with additional responsibilities to exploit his business acumen, such as seeking grant funding opportunities or examining existing agency processes for cost-saving changes.

By empowering employees to participate in these auxiliary activities, the agency will benefit and the employees will have increased job satisfaction, in addition to being prepped for future career opportunities.

Second, deploy admin resources into operational activities. While admin duties are a necessary part of supporting patrol and investigative functions, the agency’s sworn administrators should spend some time doing the backbone activity of the agency, i.e., conducting patrols and answering calls for service.

Third, leverage community support. Many community members would support their local law enforcement agency if they were told how they could do so. Reach out to the local photography club and inquire whether it would be willing to take portraits of the agency’s officers to use for media releases.

Ask the computer department at the local technical school to update the department’s Web page. Ask local civic organizations for assistance in distributing missing persons flyers. Developing these cooperative partnerships will enhance the loyalty of the community and garner resources that might otherwise be unattainable.

During difficult times, employees will be in greater need of stalwart leadership and clear direction to avoid feelings of despair. Leadership responsibilities should never be neglected in light of poor economic conditions or dwindling budgets.

Brian Boetig is a federal agent. He may be reached at BrianBoetig@gmail.com.

Published in Law and Order, Feb 2010

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