Blue Line

BACK OF THE BOOK – Lunney on Leadership

March 12, 2013  By Robert Lunney

441 words – MR

Leadership, character and destiny

by Robert Lunney

Perhaps the least recognized goal of police college recruit training is developing leadership yet that is precisely what is expected of front line police officers from the moment of their graduation.


The leadership exercised by police officers in the routine discharge of their duties is impersonal. It is leadership based upon the authority that officers represent rather than the type of leadership exercised by a supervisor. A citizen deferring to a police officer does not necessarily indicate deference to the officers’ personality.

The willingness of citizens to submit to a police officers’ direction is motivated out of an appreciation of the importance of public safety and respect and confidence in the police service. Nevertheless, a powerful influence in assuring public confidence is found in the personality of members and the effect their personalities have on the citizens they contact. If the sum of these contacts is positive, then public respect and confidence is assured. This personal type of leadership suggests careful consideration of the impact of character.

Personal character is a measure of moral strength and reputation. No one is born with a formed character. Family and early education provide the initial framework but the final formulation is a very personal act. Character is the sum of mental and moral qualities of the individual. The attributes of good character are:

• Courtesy

• Responsibility

• Dependability

• Judgement

• Honesty

• Cooperation

Good character is expressed in the personality traits of:

• Self confidence

• Self sacrifice

• Fairness

• Initiative

• Dignity

• Courage

• Impartiality

• Moral ascendancy

We learn these virtues by listening and talking, observing decent behaviour, introduction to heroes, heroines and villains and by exposure to the meaning of fundamental ideals. Each individual makes a personal decision to adopt and emulate the admirable traits they encounter in others and to include them in their personality. Through a layering process of conscious decisions, officers in the formative years prepare themselves for an estimable life and an honourable police career.

From the moment of accepting the oath of office every act performed, every decision made, every personal conclusion filed away composes the sum of individual worthiness, constitutes the reputation as a person and a police officer, and ultimately is enfolded in personal character.

“Sow an act, you reap a habit; sow a habit, you reap a character; sow a character, you reap a destiny” – Charles Reade.


The 2012 recipient of the will be honoured at a banquet April 23. Tickets are $75 each and also include the mirth of comedian Simon B. Cotter. Visit for more information.

For more on Bob Lunney, check out his blog at .

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