Thursday, October 25, 2012

Week 4 - Wise Words...

It has been quite a week with some ups and downs.  I am sorry to report we have lost our first classmate as Art from Arizona had to return home after tearing his Achilles which will require surgery and substantial recovery.  He will hopefully have the opportunity to return for a future session of NA training.  In the time he was here, he made an impact on several of us with his quiet, "gentle giant" demeanor and articulate contributions to class discussions.  Art was in my section as well as several of my classes to include Ethics where we were teammates in a debate.  We wish the best to Art on a speed recovery.  Meanwhile, I am pleased to report that after three dentist visits and two failed attempted root canals, I found a new dentist with the help of my mother-in-law.  Thanks to Dr. Misto who, on his first try, was able to perform a successful root canal on my broken tooth.  I never thought I would be so relieved to get a root canal.

It has been a full week as we began our enrichment programming this week.  In keeping with the goal of developing well-rounded law enforcement leaders, the NA brings in a variety of speakers throughout our session to speak to us on a number of topics.  This week, we had our first enrichment speaker, Gen. Hugh Shelton.  Gen. Shelton was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 11, 2001.  Originally appointed to the post by Pres. Clinton, he also served a term under Pres. Bush.  Gen. Shelton came to speak on values-based leadership and leaving a legacy.  His distinguished 38 year military career included two combat tours in Vietnam.  He previously served as Commander of the 82nd Airborne Division as well as Commander in Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command.  Among his many military awards, Gen. Shelton has earned four Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, and the Purple Heart.  He also received the Congressional Gold Medal and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.  The author of two books, he wrote Without Hesitation:  The Odyssey of an American Warrior which I am currently reading.  I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the military, history, politics, or leadership.

 Gen. Shelton address our session.

Gen. Shelton captivated us with his no-nonsense take on leadership and kept us entertained with his sense of humor and quick wit.  Many of his experiences in the military translate very well to the law enforcement world.  He broke his views on leadership into three broad categories: the leader, the people we lead, and the importance of teamwork.  He got straight to the point when discussing the role of the leader.  He said that it all begins with integrity.  He said that "without it, anything you build is on shifting sand."  One of the most important benefits of being an leader with integrity is that "you have the right to give no quarter to those who lack it."  With regards to the people we lead, he reminded us that the "golden rule" would not lead us astray on how to treat our people.  He promoted a more collaborative form of leadership where open debate is encouraged.  One thing he made struck home with me.  He said that the goal for any good leader "should be for his organization to run as well without him as when he is there."  As I monitor from afar, via End of Shift Reports and occasional calls and emails, I consider myself fortunate in this way.  Though it may have been nice in some ways to appear more critical to our operations, I am pleased that my troops have not missed a beat in my absence, thanks in large part to the professionalism of our officers, but also the leadership and hard work of Maj. Miles and Lts. Gooding and Millhouse.

Gen. Shelton understood and stressed the importance of teamwork in any profession where members have to rely upon one another in life threatening situations.  Again, he stressed that it all starts at the top.  The leader must first set the standard for what is expected and then must demonstrate it and serve as an example.  He summed everything up by simply encouraging us to "just do what's right and feel good about it."  While I can't do justice to his hour long speech in a couple of paragraphs, I will say that he did not say anything that night that I did not wholeheartedly agree with.  Having found himself in some very precarious positions, he was definitely tested throughout his career and serves as a great example to others of how you can lead effectively and still maintain an ethical code.  I look forward to continuing his book.

This week's fitness challenge was a 5k run throughout the FBI complex known as the "Lion's Leap" (in keeping with the Wizard Of Oz theme).  Once again we gathered and learned that we would be running in honor of a classmate's coworker who had been killed in the line of duty.  We ran around several parts of the campus to include the famed Hogan's Alley, home of the most robbed bank in America.  (Hogan's Alley is a "town" where new agents conduct scenario-based training.)  In fitness class we continued with our circuit training in a routine reminiscent of Rocky IV when Rocky trains in the Soviet Union without the benefit of  traditional equipment.  While we didn't chop any firewood or outrun KGB agents in the snow, we did train today with rope, tires, and a few other things they had laying around.  Our Fitness instructor Kevin is a good guy and continues to push each of us to push ourselves.

The most "robbed" bank in America.

The class looks on in dismay as Kevin demonstrates the fitness benefits of this medieval torture device.

A deceptively tiring workout using nothing but a "big ole piece of rope". 

Another "tiring" workout...flipping tires...exactly what it sounds like.

Tonight I was able to attend a presentation by Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, author of the book, Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement.  Familiar with his book but never having had the opportunity to hear him speak, I eagerly joined my roommate's class where he was scheduled to speak, and I was not disappointed.  A former police officer himself, his presentation (and book) focused on the change that police officers inevitably undergo after beginning work in the field.  Unfortunately, the same hypervigilance that serves officers from a self-preservation standpoint on the streets also works against them in their personal lives.  Officers essentially trade one threat for another.  Dr. Gilmartin also discussed one of law enforcement's dark secrets - police officer suicide.  He provided some startling statistics that show that an officer is actually about nine times more likely to die by his own hand than by that of a felon's.  He offered an alternative path to prevent an officer from going down that road.  He went on to speak in great depth about how officers can keep their cynicism at healthy levels and keep issues at work from affecting them at home.  Though discussing some very serious material, Dr. Gilmartin was able to interject some humor into his presentation, much of it at the expense of firefighters.  While we already provided his book to our officers several years ago, I am also exploring ways to bring Dr. Gilmartin to SC, as his message is one that should be heard by everyone who wears a badge (as well as anyone married to someone who wears a badge).

Dr. Gilmartin addresses the class.

The members of Section 1 also had our first official section dinner.  We went to Fredericksburg for, not only a great meal, but also some great camaraderie and conversation.  While I am actually quite fond of cafeteria food, it was nice to get away and eat dinner in a less industrial setting.  I got to hear some great stories from my classmates around the table...most of which were probably even true.

Some of "the guys"

This coming weekend is a big weekend as we will be traveling to New York City for a program sponsored by NYPD.  I look forward to reporting back some details of that trip in my next installment.  Until next time...

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