KSP Safe Schools Active Shooter Survival Program

Several months ago I formed a Safe Schools Committee comprised of some of our best trainers, tactical personnel, researchers and media advisors. The purpose of the Committee was to examine our current practices and to equip our school personnel with the tools, resources and training needed to handle an active shooter incident. Our efforts also included how to detect early warning signs that could possibly stop an incident before it becomes active and to continually develop and look at best practices from around the country. This included refresher training for our agency’s response to active shooter situations. Ultimately, the Committee involved our external partners from various school districts and local law enforcement agencies. Earlier this month, over seventy troopers participated in a ten hour block of Active Shooter Survival Training. This internal component is intended to instruct school teachers and administrators on how to respond and provide them options in the event of an attack. Each post has a designated school safety coordinator that will help coordinate and teach the school based training components. It became apparent that there is no “one size fits all” training model. Since each school has different needs and expectations regarding safety, our model involves four levels for principals and staff to choose from:
LEVEL 1: Our agency will provide on-site visits to the requesting school where a review of the schools current plan of action will be conducted and evaluated. Recommendations for school protocols, if requested by schools officials, will be provided. LEVEL 2: We will assist and participate in school ‘lock down’ drills. Provide feedback and additional information to school officials based on the ‘most likely’ police responses and needs. LEVEL 3: Provide an on-site visit and walk through assessing strengths and weaknesses of the facility. Provide target hardening information to school officials via the KSP multi-layered school security checklist. LEVEL 4: Provide a three-hour block of professional development training for school personnel designed to give options for consideration when facing an active shooter. Training will consist of classroom instruction along with the opportunity to take part in realistic scenarios to build their confidence to survive an active shooter incident. The training has already been utilized by school districts in western and eastern Kentucky and received extremely positive reviews. All of the Safe Schools Committee members are to be commended for their hard work and insight on this cutting edge program. To learn more about this initiative and the press conference held today, visit our website or click on the following link to watch the video explaining the program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oejg13JSLOk


Leading from the Heart

We’ve all heard the old adage that you should lead by example, but what does that really mean? Sergeant Jill Henderson, the Army’s first female Drill Sergeant of the Year routinely works seventeen hours a day. Even in the rain and mud, she usually can be found in a crisp uniform and spit-shined shoes. She aligns her actions with her values. “I lead from the heart” she says. “The more I take care of people, the more they take care of me. If you stay in the Army you will become a leader. It’s very important that you never forget where you came from.”
Arguably nothing is more powerful than a leader’s example. A study performed by UCLA found that the behavior most related to employee productivity was ‘modeling the way’ by their leadership. Kouzes and Posner tell us in their book, “The Leadership Challenge”, that there are five essential aspects to their behavior and actions that leaders need to be conscious about in their efforts to align shared values:
• Calendars---how you spend your time is a clear indicator as to where your priorities are. When I used to teach at the college level, I asked my students to list two of the most important things in their life. It could be relationships, activities, hobbies, etc. The second part of the exercise involved them telling me how much time that they spent each day towards these endeavors. As you might imagine, their actions did not always align with their values. What you do speaks loudly as to what you really value.
• Critical Incidents---as leaders, critical incidents provide us an opportunity to teach and impart valuable knowledge. I often hear commentary at retirement receptions about how a field training officer, senior detective or supervisor took the time to teach rather than to chastise a unit early in their career. Although these learning moments can’t be planned, they are moments in time that offer a leader the chance to improvise if they are on the look out for such opportunities.
• Stories, analogies, and metaphors---if done correctly, leadership examples are passed down through stories and organizational metaphors over time. Stories are easily understood and often long remembered. Our agency is infamous regarding stories that are passed down, whether it is from post to post or generation to generation. Research tells us that information is more quickly and accurately remembered when first presented in story form.
• Language---leaders understand and are attentive to language. They know the power of words. Questions are equally powerful and help focus attention on important issues. They illustrate where the agency is headed and what is important to the leader. From customer service to integrity to innovation, questions can provide the platform for daily organizational direction.
• Measurements---we’ve all heard that what gets measured is what gets done and it’s true. However, I believe it is one of the hardest transitions for a new supervisor to make. For whatever reason, there is a natural resistance by many leaders to hold those under their command accountable. Research has shown time and again that measurement and honest feedback are essential to increased performance and overall improvement.

History has demonstrated that there are three central themes in the values of highly successful, strong cultured organizations:
1. High standards of performance
2. A caring attitude towards people
3. A sense of uniqueness and pride

Sound familiar? As Kentucky State Police enters into its 65th year of service to the Commonwealth, we continue to work diligently towards practicing what we preach.


Effective Leadership Requires Moral Courage

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be selected to attend the National Executive Institute Program hosted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The class was comprised of forty chiefs across America from the country’s largest police agencies. One of the highlights of the program was a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. A special tour and discussion took place that centered on how quickly police values eroded when the military began their persecution of Jews throughout Berlin and Vienna.

The line between police and military blurred and a police state readily emerged. It was a time of helplessness for citizens who had no one to trust or protect their everyday freedoms. Despite the carnage that followed in the coming years, there were numerous stories of courage that eventually surfaced.

Paul Ernst Grueninger was born and raised in Switzerland and left his job as an elementary school teacher after being called to active duty in 1914. After leaving military service he joined the police force in 1925 and became commandant of Saint Gallen Canton. After the union between Austria and Nazi Germany in 1938, the Nazis began to organize a series of brutal attacks on Jews living in Vienna. Thousands of Jews began their frantic flee from Austria to the safe sanctuary of Switzerland. Even though the Swiss government had decided to stay neutral during the war, officials ordered border police to refuse admittance to Jewish refugees.

Defying his own government, Grueninger permitted nearly 4000 Jews to enter the country at his checkpoint and refused to accept any bribes or gratuities for his efforts. Although he attempted to conceal his actions by back dating passport stamps and falsifying reports, the Swiss government eventually discovered what he was doing. Pending a criminal inquiry, he was suspended from duty in December 1938.

In early 1940, Grueninger was found guilty of forging state documents. He was dismissed from civil service, thus losing his pension and government subsidized apartment. After his dismissal, he struggled to find employment for the rest of his life working odd jobs where he could find them.

A year prior to his death in 1972, the Yad Vashem Remembrance Authority recognized Grueninger as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations” for his heroic efforts to rescue Jews before the war. Likewise, the district court in Saint Gallen overturned his conviction in 1995 and the town named a square in his honor, recognizing him as a national hero. The story emphasizes the power that one person can have when he or she does the right thing regardless of the personal pain it may cause.

The overall experience and visit to the Museum made me realize how fragile democracy can be and how quickly it can be compromised. The merger of Nazi forces with the policing mechanism vividly illustrates that when police officers violate their oath, there are always consequences. The Holocaust is probably the most extreme example of just how far reaching and horrific those consequences can be. Historic proof that moral courage continues to be the cornerstone of effective leadership.