- Positive reinforcement
- Praise in public, critique in private
- Open up communication channels
- Provide tools to manage stress and anxiety
- Share community appreciation
The best law enforcement officers are brave, selfless people who want to protect and serve their communities. It’s more than a job. It’s a calling.
For these exemplary officers, periods of low morale can be particularly challenging and demotivating. During times when the positive public perception of law enforcement is suffering, or when negative headlines dominate the news cycle, officers are still dressing in body armor and putting themselves in harm’s way for the good of their communities.
It’s important to have strategies in place that help maintain positive police morale in your agency despite what’s happening outside of it.
Chiefs across the nation know the consequences of low police morale. It can negatively impact police motivation, recruitment, retention, wellness, and community interactions. Despite that, low morale is still much easier to feel than to measure. In this article, you'll discover strategies to improve police morale and set your agency up for continued success.
Morale is the glue that holds everything together. It allows your agency to do its best work. And that makes it particularly worth investing in and taking the time to build.
Every person in your agency contributes in some way to morale, but leadership plays the most important role. Here are some ways leaders in your agency can boost morale while strengthening police and community relations.
1. Positive reinforcement
Studies show that positive reinforcement is one of the most powerful tools leaders possess to inspire employees in the workplace.
Show appreciation for good decision-making. For initiative. For a job well done. Creating a culture of positive reinforcement in your agency is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to instantly boost performance and police morale.
2. Praise in public, critique in private
Being recognized for good performance encourages future good performance. Being chastised in a group setting breeds contempt and does the opposite.
The simple act of leaders voicing sincere appreciation when their field officers do good work can have a significant positive impact on your agency as a whole. In a high-stakes occupation following a chain of command, nothing improves police morale more than a personal job well done from a higher rank.
3. Open up communication channels
Field officers that feel heard, valued, and respected by superiors will go the extra mile for your agency. Finding opportunities to bridge the communication gap can provide a significant morale boost.
Providing officers with the tools they need to perform, avoiding micromanaging, and keeping open communication channels is a winning combination for good police morale.
4. Provide tools to manage stress and anxiety
Officers will have difficult days, that’s the nature of the job. But a lack of support can have a devastating effect on morale. Tools that officers can use on their own time, and before they’re in crisis, can prevent them from sinking into low morale.
These tools don’t have to be complicated to be effective. They can be introductory stress relievers like basic CBT exercises or more comprehensive tools like those in PowerLine's content library that help officers work through specific and traumatic events.
5. Share community appreciation
Lost in the negative mass media coverage of law enforcement are all the incredible things officers do in communities across the country every single day. Police and community relations can suffer not because of what’s happening on the ground in your community, but because of what’s being perpetuated in the media.
How to build trust between police and your community today? Show your officers how much the community appreciates the work they do and provide your citizens with a voice. Citizen engagement solutions are an effective way to strengthen the community relationship while providing a significant morale boost for officers.
Boost morale with citizen engagement software
Chief Chris Debbie of the Union County Police Department served a county of over 500,000 citizens. Concerned about morale and wanting to leverage police and community relations, he decided to adopt PowerEngage, the complete citizen engagement and feedback solution from PowerDMS.
“I was worried because the last thing we wanted was to add more negativity with the potential for bad feedback,” Chief Debbie shared, “But we got instant buy-in from the community. The feedback was so positive, and really appreciated by our officers. We put up screens in our department so they could see positive feedback coming in each day and it got so good that the night and day dispatchers started to have competitions to see who could get the best feedback!”
When considering how to build trust between police and your community, citizen engagement software can be a powerful tool. Mutual trust in police and community relations benefits your agency and the citizens you serve. Morale improves when officers feel recognized and appreciated. And it’s high morale that keeps you afloat during challenging times and thriving when times are smoother. It’s worth taking the time to build.
If you’d like to learn more about PowerEngage and how it can help your agency boost morale and connect with citizens please schedule a free consultation.