Author: James Dudley

By PoliceOne Staff

From the national spotlight on active shooter response policies, the ongoing police recruitment crisis and the increasing awareness of the impact of stress on officers, agencies faced myriad challenges in 2018, with no clear resolutions ahead.

As police leaders start the New Year, prioritizing officer morale and setting clear strategies for the next 52 weeks is key to maintaining effective and efficient LE operations.

PoliceOne columnists and advisory board members share their thoughts on what should be on every leader’s to-do list in 2019.

1. Show up

Set the example of honorable professional policing you want your officers to emulate in the New Year and every year after. Set that example not only from your desk, but also occasionally do it from a squad at street level in uniform wearing your duty gear. You will be amazed at the response you get when you show up to back up an officer or two in need of assistance. Men and women follow leaders like that. – Lt. Dan Marcou

2. Prioritize officer mental health

Assess the mood and mental health of officers and staff to ensure no one is at risk of hurting themselves or others. – Ron LaPedis

Put the suicide hotline and/or EAP contact on every training document, email, and memo. – Chief Joel F. Shults, E.d.D

3. Engage officers

Recruiting and retaining quality officers is going to become increasingly difficult. Chiefs need to evaluate what they’re currently doing to keep experience and institutional knowledge within their agencies. Make sure you pay attention to your older, more experienced officers, as well as your new, shiny pennies. Keep people engaged by incorporating their talents and expertise instead of losing them to other departments or private businesses. – Todd Fletcher

4. Be a role model

Leaders should always model the behaviors they seek throughout their respective agencies. Over the last year or so, the law enforcement profession has been especially criticized and, in some cases, vilified. Now, more than ever, agency leaders should make concerted efforts to spend time with rank and file officers at their agencies. Use techniques that organizational management experts deem best. Develop your people and stand behind them. Mentor and train them and give them confidence. However, there is also an obligation to take appropriate action when dealing with individuals who do not uphold the morals, standards or ethics of the job.

In 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I believe this quote rises above all others in describing those who perform the duty. Remember there are risks involved when you give power and authority to officers. Be careful how you criticize and how you mete out discipline. Understand the difference between accidental mistakes made from the heart from those made with negligence or malice. – James Dudley

5. Support officers through leadership, training

LEO Round Table host Chip DeBlock asked his guests to share their thoughts on law enforcement agenda setting in 2019.

If you are a police leader, what is on your to-do list in 2019? If you are a patrol officer, what would you like to see your administration prioritize this year? Email your thoughts to

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