Blue Line

Features Editor’s Commentary Opinion
Feeding seeds

I am fortunate to spend so much time reading about and conversing with so many law enforcement leaders.


Det.-Const. Kenrick Bagnall with Toronto Police answers questions from students during the Security • Police • Fire Career Expo in Mississauga

These leaders all come with varied titles from various agencies — including chiefs of police right down to frontline constables, civilian staff posted in IT and HR, military police members, correctional officers, conservation officers, international committee members… I could go on.

What do they all have in common? Reflecting on this, I decided they are all “people of action” — risk takers when it comes to new ideas, as well as lifelong pursuers of continuing their education. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

There are a number of studies and definitions when it comes to characterizing good leaders… Our own columnist Isabelle Sauve pointed out in her February piece that leadership is contextual:

“Individuals need specific situations to shine as leaders. Subsequently, leadership is a process, not a position.”

Along similar lines, according to Kevin Kruse, the creator of the Leading for Employee Engagement eLearning program, “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”

Other sources, such as author J. Kelly Hoey, credit leaders more specifically as builders of the next generation. This is something I tend to forget; sure, leaders are movers and shakers, but they are also good gardeners. They want to see the seeds of tomorrow growing strong in encouraging environments, preparing to bloom. They understand the value of those seeds.

I witnessed this first hand this past March. I was humbled by the genuine dedication and hours a number of law enforcement leaders put into our Security • Police • Fire Career Expo in Mississauga, Ont. Many took vacation days and precious time out of their brimming work/personal schedules to offer advice to students and others interested in making a career transition.

I watched as leaders from Hamilton Police Service, Toronto Police Service, Barrie Police Service, Toronto Transit Commission and Ontario’s Correctional Services (plus more from the other two fields of fire and security) commandeered their mentor tables, patiently listening to questions from 140 attendees. They were open books, sharing raw stories of challenges as well as victories.

Some of the students were more reserved than others, but these mentors skillfully broke down the barriers — they had lunch with these students, took social media photos with them, practiced interviewing questions with them and just went the extra mile to spark excitement and create comfort. It was growth happening right in front of me. (See more here.)

The April 2019 issue celebrates leaders like those mentors. It takes a deeper look into two phenomenal award winners who have worked hard to create positivity and improve difficult situations. These are two people who also make a difference in young people’s lives every day, whose stories and influence ripple out well beyond the pages here.

Truly, I wish we could award every officer who is nominated for both the Police Leadership Award as well as the Lifetime in Law Enforcement Award with a trophy or at least some symbol of how utterly incredible they are. There is not a single nomination form that does not amaze me in terms of impact, ability, commitment, passion and drive.

We will be making changes to the Police Leadership Award for 2020. We have had feedback calling to make it simpler to apply and more specific in criteria. Whatever we decide, I want to thank all the judges and recipients, past and present, for carving the way and caring for the seeds, and know we will continue to celebrate leadership in Canadian policing.