Blue Line

Features Editor’s Commentary
The importance of leadership


July 25, 2021
By Brieanna Charlebois


Topics

During times of crisis—like those members of law enforcement faced over the past year—strong leadership matters exponentially more. In challenging moments, we must consider what makes a great leader? Is it courage? Trust? Empathy? Compassion? How important is hands-on life experience; the ability to complete tasks and lead by example? How important is strong character and integrity? What about effective communication and the ability to illustrate words through action?

The law enforcement leaders of today are arguably facing one of the most tumultuous times in policing. On a large scale, police organizations are feeling increased pressure to re-evaluate their practices while balancing an ever-changing cultural, social and technological landscape. At an individual level, police are entering the field with new expectations about what it means to be an officer and how they want to be led.

This issue features Vancouver Police Department Const. Chris Birkett, this year’s Blue Line Rookie of the Year. Birkett was unanimously chosen by our panel of judges, all of whom cited the exceptional leadership he has displayed in his short tenure as an officer. He exemplifies strong leadership and commitment to positive change, proving these qualities are not solely limited to—or the responsibility of—those in senior positions. In only in his third year in policing, he has exceeded all expectations. One of his most notable accomplishments is establishing and spearheading Out on Patrol, an incorporated non-profit peer support organization for LGBTQ2S+ members in all areas of law enforcement.

“Police officers are entering the field with new expectations about what it means to be an officer and how they want to be led.”

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Adaptability, flexibility and the ability to learn from mistakes are essential in strong leaders. This is exemplified through new technological advancements, which often pose new challenges for police.

In this issue, Monique Rollin and Vishal Dhir cover how to integrate body-worn cameras and technology into critical incident response and how forward thinking leadership is essential, as is adopting technology-driven incident management in order to meet the challenges and opportunities facing public safety professions.

Similarly, the technology section showcases a new evidence management system called Auror, a database program that grants officers access to investigate retail theft.

Michelle Vincent’s Holding the Line column covers trust and how police leaders play a vital role in creating a positive work environment.

The magazine also showcases a recap of our first ever Blue Line Expo International. The virtual event, which took place in April, brought together experts from Canada and around the world who covered various topics impacting law enforcement today. The event illustrated how, when the world seemingly came to a halt last year, police work did not. Criminals adapted and public sentiment changed, but police carried on—a true testament to the discipline and dedication of the force in Canada.

The past year-and-a-half required officers to lean on each other. Many of the challenges police now face weigh heavily on law enforcement management and personnel alike. As a result, current and aspiring leaders may be seeking out greater insight into how to be an effective police leader and what type of leadership style will work best in this climate. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, most would agree that effective leaders are skilled at responding to challenges. This issue covers just that.