It has been said that “culture eats strategy,” and in this time of intense focus on the law enforcement profession, we often hear calls for culture change and reform alongside the calls for new policies and strategies. Increasingly, police chiefs are appointed with a mandate to “change the culture.” But how well do we understand law enforcement culture and the key role we play as leaders in shaping that culture?
Several years ago, Stephen R. Covey was leading a strategy session with law enforcement executives when a senior executive began to complain about his organization’s culture. Dr. Covey asked him how long he had been in his senior leadership position, and the executive proudly responded, “Twelve years.” Covey replied, “If you have been in your position for even one day and have not done anything to shift your culture, then you own it.”