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“​Thank You for Your Service”​

“Thank you for your service.”

Five words that mean so much when received by a serving police officer, or, in my case, a former Police Officer. The words convey respect, gratitude, and admiration.

Speaking personally, I feel humbled and emotional whenever a person says that to me.

I think of 34 years of experience. Some were horrific, some were frightening, some were enlightening, some were amusing. All experiences challenged me personally and professionally.

I learnt about wonderful supervision and leadership from some colleagues.

I also learnt about the impact of micromanagement and the toxicity of ‘Target Culture’.

April 14, 1988, is a date indelibly etched on my memory.

That day was my first day as an Acting Sergeant at Hemel Hempstead. I was looking forward to meeting the team at 1400 hours. One of the team was a friendly and unassuming colleague, Frank MASON. Earlier that morning, he was walking his dog when he witnessed an armed robbery at a bank. Frank intervened and was shot dead.

In those days, there were few brick-like mobile phones, so the news was slow to circulate to friends and family. It was bizarre having to telephone people to confirm that I was not the off-duty officer in Hemel Hempstead who had been murdered.

The management team, including myself, were called in early, for 1300 hours, to prepare ourselves for facing any officer’s worst nightmare, dealing with the immediate aftermath of the death of a respected colleague.

The lessons I learnt about myself, my responsibilities as a supervisor, and leadership have never left me.

Our responsibility was to support colleagues who were traumatised and heartbroken and in a humane and professional manner, transform them back into an effective team.

#Leadership is knowing ourselves and those people for whom we have a responsibility, as people, and behave accordingly.

The ‘Thin Blue Line ‘ image at the head of this article is also worn as a patch by police officers in the UK. This image has been outrageously and inaccurately described as an ‘Extreme Right-Wing Meme’ by some commentators. It is not.

The image of a thin blue line with a darkened Union Flag as background symbolises 3 things:

  • The thin line that police walk daily between life and death.
  • The police officer’s role in separating good from bad, while creating order from chaos.
  • In memorial, in connection or memory of officers killed on duty, and those who continue on duty at the present.

Interestingly, the five words ” Thank you for your service” have all been said to me by American citizens, never by British citizens.

Why is that, I wonder?

Tony Munday
Tony Mundayhttp://www.achievesuccess.org.uk/
TONY developed his expertise during his Police career of 34 years. Whilst a Senior Leader, for 15 years, he recognised the challenges and pressures faced by Leaders, including those which were of his own making. Tony was a ‘maverick ‘as a Leader. He became accredited in, and practiced, coaching as a Leadership Style, and Situational Leadership (adopt a style relevant and appropriate to the context). This was unusual amongst colleagues and peers, who maintained a firm adherence to a ‘command and control’ style, on most occasions. Tony recognised that it was impossible for him to effectively lead and micromanage. In order to develop appropriate trust and motivation amongst those he had responsibility for, he ensured that he knew the person behind the role. This enabled Tony to effectively performance manage, with fairness. Where appropriate, Tony practiced a ‘service’ style of Leadership. He saw his role, as providing the strategic direction, the environment, setting the values and developing the people, so they took responsibility for delivery of their own and other’s performance. The subsequent trust gained, enabled Tony to save significant time compared to peers who micromanaged. Tony used this time on strategic planning and development of people, enabling them to maximise their potential, including out of his teams or departments. This was unique amongst his peers. Many peers behaved as if the first responsibility of their team was to make ‘them’ look good. This stifled development of their teams. Tony’s teams and departments consistently outperformed their contemporaries.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for sharing your story, Anthony. My parents taught me from a very young age to show respect for the police. And they represented someone ‘safe’ I could run to if I were in any danger. Unfortunately over time that image was tarnished in my home country by, shall we call them renegade officers, who engaged in practices that besmirched the uniform they wore. Despite this, there were and are still thousands, like you, who deserve our respect and thanks. They put their lives on the line every day to allow us to sleep a little easier.

    • Thank for sharing your perspective, Yvonne.
      In any organisation there are rogues. For example the former Head of HR at MacDONALDS and his depury have been revealed as sexual predators who misused their position of authority for their selfish behaviours.
      Similarly with Policing.
      Because of the critical importance of enjoying the support, trust and confidence of the public, honesty and transparency must be the watchword.

  2. Thank you Tony for this great piece, a reminder of how the simple words of Thank you for Your Service can affect the heart of a police officer who truly wants only to protect and serve. Things have changed greatly since I wore the uniform, but the message is still the same just not accepted by those who just want to destroy all that is good. the message? “Protect and Serve”…..
    Thank you

    • Thank you Lynne for your insightful comments.
      I see the words ‘To Serve and Protect’ on US police cars and know that the core values are clear.
      It is incumbent upon all of us who provide service to the public to adhere to those standards and rutlessly eradicate errant behaviours.

  3. Hello my retired brother in blue. The harsh reality of police work is that good cops are routinely murdered unexpectedly during their routine duties.

    Us survivors have to carry on instead 24/7 while our hearts are shattered and we conceal our grief as 911 calls continue ad infinitum.

    Our fallen comrades are never forgotten in our collective memories. We honor them all by doing our sworn duties in keeping that “thin blue line” strong and straight. The legacy of guardians lives on my brother, bless and keep us all!

  4. Tony, thank you so much for sharing your story. We, as a people, need to hear your stories. Right now there is so much pain and confusion around your former profession, that we need to see the human beings behind the badge to better understand. It is only by all of us willing to share our stories can we ever truly connect and heal as a people. Thank you for having the courage to not only put your life on the line for your community, but to share your heart with your readers. Both require bravery.

    • Thank you Kimberley,
      It is very much appreciated.

      The main takeaway from my police service has been the importance of knowing people as individual, sentient beings.
      Contact with the police for many people is at a time of significant stress in their lives.
      I was always mindful of the forensic science concept that ‘every contact leaves a trace’.

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