Educational policy LO14587 -Police Service

John H. Dicus (
Fri, 01 Aug 1997 10:02:58 -0400

Replying to LO14575 --

At 08:40 AM 7/31/97 -0700, Vana Prewitt wrote:

>D. Brownell Calgary Police Service wrote:
>> We are a city police service that is striving to become a learning
>> organization. We have been working on implementation of this since 1995.
>My hat is off to you. Somehow, I have a difficult time reconciling my
>images of police departments with my vision of a learning organization.
>It's a very pleasant shock to the system to have those two contrasting
>images merge as a result of your message to the group.

To Vana and the list,

Thanks to all of you for the caring conversation and the stimulation. I
would like to share what I learned about Policing and Learning
Organizations. A good experience for me. Being with the folks in my
example changed my mental model of police work in a very positive way. I
cannot see an officer at work without having a better idea of how I can
help him or her.

I have had the honor of being a lifetime friend to a good man, Doug
Miller, who worked for the Cleveland Police Department. A man who was
nearly eaten alive by the politics of that machine while trying to do "the
right thing" to the best of his ability.

His Commander while in CPD, to the best of my ability to determine, is
also a man that I can look up to.

As events turned, the Commander, Anthony Jackson, became Chief of the
Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department under Claire
Freeman in Cuyahoga County, CLE OH. Of the many housing authorities in
the country, as I understand it, only a handful have actual police
departments as opposed to security forces. As I began working with Doug
to bring some LO workshops into CPD, he took a job as Commander under
Chief Jackson, and this is where we did considerable work together. (I
mention the names of these people so in case you run into them on your
journey, get acquainted)

These were a few of my pleasant surprises on my continuing learning

1) Chief Jackson could talk for hours about how he respected his command
staff and patrol officers -- about his dreams for his department. He was
describing a generative organization but did not know any of the "terms"
and "buzzwords" for an LO. It was inherent in him, and perhaps did not
yet know many ways to manifest his dream. Doug is the same way. It's in
his genes. When he and I began to talk of my passion for LO's, it
resonated in him.

2) When we worked with the CMHA command staff, we spent considerable time
surfacing, articulating, and sharing a) their proud roots, b) their
current reality, and c) their preferred future. We could have rolled up
the long sheets of paper that covered the wall and taken them with us to
the next organization we worked with because they were very nearly
identical to the things almost every organization lives with and hopes
for. (Hardly ever, it seems, do technical/functional items account for
more than a small percentage of the total of either the current reality or
the preferred future.) When the CMHA folks asked how their concerns and
hopes compared to other organizations, I said "nearly the same." That
relieved them and worried them. Relieved them because they were not
alone. Worried them because they felt invalidated with respect to the
anxiety and fear for their lives (albeit self-selected) that they live
with every day. We spent a lot of time in dialogue validating the
uniqueness that dwells in the midst of the commonality. I could not do
their job, and I am thankful that they are willing to take the
responsibility and risk on behalf of our well being.

3) They commonly used the term "community policing," which has been
around for quite some time. When I asked them to articulate its concepts,
the room fell silent. This is where the bulk of our time together was
spent. They eagerly desired a way in which they and the citizens could
recognize themselves as a system. The problems they faced each day in the
old model of "force against the bad guys" was eating them alive. To add
to their frustration, they found themselves being whisked into the "old
ways" of doing business in a matter of seconds. No matter how good their
intentions were of approaching a situation systemically with
non-escalation, they and the community were locked into older patterns.
So they were desperately seeking ways to become more grounded and
centered. They were seeking ways in which they could be teachers -- and
the community be learners -- in becoming a larger collaborative system.
And do this in a way that did not increase their risk of life. Every now
and then I will see a news clip on TV in which someone I came to know is
either hurt or involved in a dangerous situation. I became a part of them
more so than I had expected, and they had become my teachers also.

Your thoughts and experiences would be appreciated. Some of the pondering
we still live with is how to get larger groups of the department together
for dialogue. We have been able to bring theory and background to them in
a reasonable fashion, but it seems that the largest inroads have been made
when more of "the system" is in the room. With their stretched schedules,
it takes a monumental juggling of personnel to bring them together, yet
the biggest strides are made when they are together. The day-to-day
pressures begin to fade the memories of being together, so we have
concentrated on making the time together highly experiential, so that the
learning is whole-being leaning -- getting a lot of insight into the
subconscious and body.

Thanks to all,



John Dicus | CornerStone Consulting Associates | Growing Learning Communities Through Whole System Processes 2761 Stiegler Road, Valley City OH 44280 800-773-8017 | 330-725-2728 (fax)

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