I wanted to share some thoughts with you that came to mind after attending the Western States Trooper Coalition (WSTC) and California Association of Highway Patrolman (CAHP) conference. I hope I can convey to you just a little bit of what I learned.
The WSTC was a forum that was put together by CAHP after many years of no confidence in the National Troopers Coalition (NTC). Many of the western states were considering leaving this group and this brings us to today. WSTC allows the western states to come together and share what’s working and what’s not in their respective states. This also allows each state to learn new things. So in short this is invaluable. NTC has had some new leadership and for the time being most Western States are sticking with NTC. Regardless of this, WSTC allows the west to get more out of the time spent together.
As an understatement, I learned a lot. Every state and association is facing their own unique issues. Some have better funded pensions, some have retirement systems similar to ours, some have great pay, some not so much. Agencies are dealing with bad radios, new cars doing strange things, and of course, dealing with the new public attitude towards law enforcement.
California has started to jump out in front of trying to change public opinion. They have a public trust, public service campaign they are partnering with the CHP to develop. It is more introspective where they are trying to change how their officers deal with the public but still maintain their ability to be warriors. I think we do a ok job at this ourselves. Could it be better? Yes.
They stressed public service. In basic terms our job is to serve the public. We get paid pretty well to do it. We need to focus on this. If we put that value first we can start gain public trust. Additionally this means that we need to remember that we do this job because we like helping people. We need to get back to doing the little things that restore this trust. If we are doing this strictly for the money then there is a problem. I believe in this. I think we should be well compensated for we do. It’s dangerous, it’s taxing on our family. However, we are paid well! So let’s keep doing this job for the right reasons. Let’s serve the people of Alaska.
Perhaps the most important training topic was shown to us in a video. I am hoping to get a copy of this because it is powerful. The video is that of a CHP officer that lost his job because of some preventable actions by the officer. It boils down to negativity. We often talk about this and that part of our jobs suck. A big thing as of late is our budget. I am guilty of being negative about this and other things. When we become so negative about certain aspects of our job we get in a hole. We also bring down those around us. We also experience cumulative issues. Dealing with some of the terrible things we see can’t bring us further down. And when we stop listening to people close to us we are ready to self destruct.
When we find ourselves complaining about going to a village or investigating something petty we need to realize this our job. It is what we signed up to do. When we start feeling negative about these things we need to pull ourselves out of it and focus on what we are here to do and what our jobs are.
I can’t tell you things with the department aren’t going to get worse or if you should stay. I encourage you to make decisions that are best for yourself and your family. What I am asking, and pledging to do myself is re-center and focus on why we are in law enforcement, to change the negativity in to something positive.
PSEA DPS Chapter Vice President