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SEPT 2023. Blues Vol 39 No. 9

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SEPT 2023. Blues Vol 39 No. 9

y one of our officers. I

y one of our officers. I was one part humbled and inspired to see the outpour of support, yet one part dreading if I could get everything packed and loaded between my agenda the next day. When I returned to the office, nearly everything was gone. A few of our staff had self-initiated to dive into this critical task, knowing the timeline previously relayed. They strategically “beat the heat” of the upcoming summer day and got a cargo van loaded to the brim, leaving a very manageable excess for another truckload. Remember: people want to help. When they know the communicated plan, they will fill in the blanks and find the work to get the mission accomplished. Absent that, I am confident that if I arrived to find the area full, I could have easily asked and allowed people to help (reference above). 5. Adapt: This is an emergency response situation. Things change. Contingencies emerge; this is part of the job we do daily. The shipping method (cargo company) fell through. As with most large-scale emergency responses, specific and reliable information is hard to legitimize in a short time. Hearsay is involved, games of telephone warp the intel. Luckily, members of this team were on top of firming out the emerging issues, utilizing contacts and finding resources. The rest of the plan went off without a hitch, except ultimately what I thought was free Priority air shipping ended up being a hefty bill, to pair well with the elevation of the flight. I figured we would utilize the funds raised, but in yet another 48 The BLUES inspiring moment – highlighting goodwill and community – a local business owner with knowledge of the operation covered the bill. hat’s another tick mark in the “allow and receive help” column. 6. Communicate/report back: Those of us who have learned the hard way by not calling our loved ones back on shift or not answering our attentive dispatchers promptly know the power of timely communication. People want updates because they are concerned. Be sure to provide those updates at reasonable timing, when you can. In this case, I collected some photos and gave a brief back to the whole team, which included our officer’s status (and his long shifts working alongside Maui PD in the relief zone), images of the volume collected and donated, and “thank you’s” to many behind-the-scenes “lynchpins.” Reporting back with clear and intentional messaging can be a catalyst for bonding. It helps underline the collaborative efforts and connects us in this special culture. It relays that things were a success, and, frankly, that we are a success. It is about galvanizing a team and its bonds. Acknowledging people on your team (when deserved and detailed properly) is not self-praise; it is celebrating the quality of your people. It is relaying gratitude, not taking them or your team for granted. It helps actualize your unified purpose. ADDITIONAL LESSONS Support from administration was critical. This sets a tone from the top that your organization truly supports its people. Not only was the hardship acknowledged, but officializing the response back home allowed our officer to get into relief efforts. This was clearly impactful to the officer, inspirational to the department, and elevating to the profession and community. It highlighted two key things we must always focus upon: • The heart of a first responder transcends state lines (or country borders) and certainly patches. • At the end of the day, we are people who devote themselves to taking care of people. Be ready to manage and limit expectations and know your boundaries. As word spread, other city departments asked if we should create a city-wide effort. I immediately recognized a couple of issues that could affect the result. First, opening it up would increase the volume, but it would also require a longer time frame. The increased volume would be hard to estimate and logistics could be dramatically more difficult to secure. While I was tempted to go for more, I had to focus on the goal: to get a bulk of necessities in the fastest practical timeline. I offered a “not right now, but …” clause, where I suggested a larger city-wide effort that I would be happy to liaise on a larger team with more bandwidth and director coordination. I recognized it did not have to be either/or, and we could carry on our mission as planned without dismissing help and good intent. Don’t forget about spreading the good news. Our city communications team asked if they

RAW VIDEO: New aerial footage shows scope of wildfire devastation in Lahaina could share our efforts. Most police shy away from this, as we do not do good deeds for attention or praise, but because we want to. However, if I have learned anything in my time with community engagement and recruiting roles, first responders and police officers specifically can afford to let people in. By sharing efforts and successes, it solidifies the connection with the community. We don’t need the praise, but it is our community and it does not hurt to let them know more about us. It does not hurt to be more entwined and part of one whole. Outside of police relations and social dynamics, I find it healthy to recognize that sharing good news and positivity is simply infectious; it breeds more good feelings and energy. What is the harm in that? If that was too idealistic for you, I will submit to you this: after it was shared as an overview on social media, other area police officers I knew reached out. They wanted to learn what we were doing; in doing so, I learned about other efforts departments were building with connections and resources we were unaware of. Sharing information for good begets more goodness. CONCLUSION We know we are facing an uphill battle to rebuild and sustain our ranks in policing. If there is a way we can do it, it is through culture. Our people are our most valuable assets. By demonstrating it through support and action, we not only highlight it, but create that culture of caring. It is what will optimize our officers, our departments, and create connection with the community in order to serve and protect them best. After all, this is our main role and purpose. About the author Sergeant Eric Tung has been a police officer for 16 years in Washington State. He currently supervises Recruiting, Hiring and Outreach. He has led patrol squads as well as training, community engagement, civil disturbance and Field Training program supervision. He has worked as a field training officer and K-9 generalist handler. Eric is a peer support team coordinator and wellness program developer. Eric was a 2022 40 Under 40 honoree, recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He develops wellness and leadership content on @bluegritwellness on Instagram and the Blue Grit Radio podcast. The BLUES 49

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