#WhyIWearTheBadge Wednesday – I Wear The Badge To Lead

This post is part of our ongoing #WhyIWearTheBadge Wednesday blog series.

Chief Pic2 10-2013Guest blogger: Chief John Letteney, Apex, North Carolina, Police Department and IACP State Associations of Chiefs of Police (SACOP) General Chair

I, like most young recruits, originally pursued a career in law enforcement for idealistic reasons – to protect and serve, make a difference in the community, give back, etc. While some may believe those are overused terms, they continue to be at the core of what we do and, in a few short words, identify the opportunity we have to be part of the solution to what impacts our communities. I was drawn to the profession through my experience as a Law Enforcement Explorer and learned at a young age what “community policing” was, long before the term was embraced by police and community. The dedication of the officers I volunteered with challenged me, taught me and inspired me – some of those lessons I learned almost forty years ago formed the foundation of what I know to be “good police work” and that I still teach today. The overarching perspective was to be a guardian while serving the community and protecting life and property.

IMG_1827Police have the opportunity to enhance quality of life in a way that few other professions do. I saw that first hand, now as a police officer, as I handled calls for service and interacted with people during some of their most trying times. As I more fully realized the difference I could make, the help I could provide and the solutions I could bring to life’s problems, I also realized that I was only one officer and my impact was limited. I pursued promotion in part because I thought, as a sergeant, I could influence my squad to do what I was taught to do individually, but have a greater impact. And so, with every promotion, my span of influence increased and I had the opportunity to serve more people, solve more problems, enhance the quality of life for larger segments of the community and have an even bigger impact through the dedicated efforts of my team.

By guiding, teaching, mentoring, modeling, and leading, I have a great opportunity to influence the next generation of police officers to learn how to protect through the lens of service, to continuously improve individually and organizationally, and to recognize the opportunities to solve problems for the people with whom they interact; to take what I was taught, enhance it and pass it along.

The answer to Why I Wear The Badge has changed over the years, and now, as a Chief of Police, I wear the badge to lead.

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