DCM Michael Murphy – Remarks at the Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command Ceremony
As Prepared, March 30, 2012
Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to be with you today. I have heard many good things about your performance in this challenging course. We are pleased that Northwestern University has been able to deliver it internationally for the second time.
Developing Kosovo’s and Albania’s Rule of Law institutions has been a top priority for the U.S. for a number of years. To succeed, these institutions must consistently follow sound management practices and principles.
The training from Northwestern University was intended to help you learn and implement those practices and principles. The ten-week School of Police Staff and Command that you have just completed is among the best law enforcement leadership and management training offered in the United States, indeed in the world. Many countries send candidates for this training to Evanston, Illinois every year.
Why, though, is it important that you have successfully completed this course? It is because your countries are in a period of change, and you must be equipped to handle that change. These are challenging times for the police in both Albania and Kosovo. Fighting crime is becoming more complex, and the citizens you serve are demanding and expecting more from your service. These dynamics require law enforcement entities that adapt quickly to changing circumstances. The old authoritarian structures are not effective in this new environment.
Adjusting to change, though, is difficult. It is a challenge we constantly face in the U.S. It is hard to move out of our comfort zone and try something unfamiliar. With new authority comes new responsibility – a frightening prospect for most of us. Change is inevitable, though, so what next?
Your training here has taught you how to answer that question. To succeed, you must properly delegate authority. That means more than assigning responsibility to your subordinates. You must also demand accountability from them. This is often difficult to do, but is crucial to your future success. Empowering mid- and lower-level officers to an appropriate degree will increase your police force’s efficiency, because it allows for quick decision making at all levels. This means more time for operational work.
Along with empowerment, though, comes responsibility. Some might balk at this out of concern that a mistake can cost them their career. How can an organization manage this concern? Take the time to train subordinates and teach them to exercise good judgment. Reward them for doing so, and recognize that they will make mistakes along the way. These mistakes are learning opportunities. Many times the biggest problem is not the mistake; it is not learning from it.
I challenge you to step outside your comfort zones, dare to empower those around you, provide leadership that challenges the status quo. Demonstrate integrity, show compassion, and create expectations. The School of Police Staff and Command has given you many tools to do this, including training in Planning, Staffing, Budgeting, Ethics, and Leadership. Now comes the time to put these tools to work, to make use of what you have been given.
Change will be the only constant for your countries in the next few years. It will occur at all levels of government and society. The police, though, must be at the front of that curve. You are given powers and authorities unlike any other profession – to take away someone’s freedom, to use force if necessary – all in the performance of your duties. Hold yourself and others around you accountable. Do the right thing for the collective good, not just for the individual. Seek to minimize political manipulation, interference and influence on your organizations – strive for more autonomy in your operations to ensure you can act for the collective good!
I want to emphasize to the current leaders of the Kosovo Police and Albanian State Police that each of these students is a new tool in your toolbox, a tool to affect positive change in your organizations. Use this new resource wisely and effectively.
To the students, I offer my sincerest congratulations for your accomplishment in completing this course. I know your families and co-workers are anxious for you to return to your home and job! I wish you the best of success.