2017 CIT International Conference


I’m attending and teaching at the 2017 CIT International Conference in beautiful Ft Lauderdale, FL… The conference is a great opportunity to learn, network, and grow your CIT program… Or maybe you just need an excuse to go to the beach!

I’m blessed to teach a breakout session on Wednesday morning at 11am …. It’s called “How to Jump-Start CIT:  Going from Blah to WOW!”

Our conference goes from August 16 – 18, 2017 and it’ll be a blast…

I’m being sponsored by the CIT Leadership Initiative, a non-profit corporation for the proliferation of CIT education and community policing.

See you at the beach!

Dr Jay


CIT Leadership Initiative Model

  • CITModelIgnorance creates a problem.


An issue or problem exists, but there is no long-term solution. There are Band-Aids applied… there is rhetoric… there are grumbling and grousing… The problem is ignored. The problem may be small and seem small for a while. But that same problem that seems small may grow or fester. An ignored problem does not go away. Labeling a problem other than a problem does not make it a “not” problem.

Look for problems. Never accept there is no room for improvement. Good may not be good enough.

Encourage criticism. LB NT… Liked best… next time…. 5 likes, 2 next times


  • Leadership creates courage.


Leadership, at its core, is action. Leaders have a bias for informed action. A leader finds the ‘problems’ and work to solve them. Usually this involves posing several courses of action and risks— The leader takes one course of action, adjust, refine, correct, & re-act. The care needs to be addressing the real problem… If it (whatever it is) doesn’t improve, ask different questions.

Which comes first? The courage or the leadership? Kind of like the chicken and egg question.

If you don’t like the answer, change the question.


  • Courage solves ignorance.


Courage is the opposite of ignorance. Looking at the problems, asking questions, not settling for status quo, seeking courses of action, taking action, re-evaluating, adjusting action, and paying attention will solve the ignorance issue. This is courage in action. Action is leadership. Leadership will solve ignorance.

There is a fine line between courage and stupidity. Know courage is in short supply. When you display courage you will rise to the top.

Ask for input. Your eyes are only yours. They have fresh eyes… use them too.


  • Knowledge is NOT power.


Sir Bacon Francis, in a book titled Religious Meditations, Of Heresies (1597) wrote “knowledge itself is power”. He was half right. Knowledge without action has little power. To know but not act is true heresy. Francis was commenting on the church and their lack of dogma transparency. In current days, knowledge is common. Almost every human knows how to lose those few last pounds… Eat right, exercise more, don’t eat just before bedtime… It’s not the knowing that makes a difference, it’s the action.

Going to training will NOT improve your CIT program. You must do some work. It’s you… not them.

Your circle of influence expands when you share your knowledge.


  • Action creates power.


There is no substitute for action. Education, knowledge, classes, more knowing… Nothing will outperform taking action. Being the greatest running theorist does not make you a great marathoner. Only running makes you a good marathoner. The universe does not like a vacuum. If there is no positive action, a plot of ground will become weed and vine filled. There is no garden without a gardener. The most knowledgeable gardener must act to get positive results.

Action isn’t a solo act. There are others, just don’t wait for ‘them’ to act. You take action first.

Specify the 3 next steps for your action. Then act. When that’s done, figure your next 3 steps… Then do those… Repeat…


  • Leaders take action.


Because there is no substitute for action, the leader acts. The leader creates personal and positional power by action. This action ensures the one who acts will be essential. Action does creates problems for those who do not act… particularly if they are in positional power posing as a “leader”.   Some positional “leaders” do not act… Action has risks. For instance, you could fail or you could make a mistake. Which leads the circle back to the leadership model where a problem was created by ignorance. The leader never finishes. They adjust, learn, find courage, and act.

Leaders are introspective and take responsibility for their action.

Leaders foster a culture of action (and mistakes). There are zero errors when there is no action.

The CIT Leadership Initiative is a non-profit corporation (503c) for the education and proliferation of CIT Training and community policing.  For further information contact CITLeadership@mail.com 

Of course, your mileage may vary

Dr Jay

I Am a CIT Evangelist

e·van·ge·list/əˈvanjələst/ noun

  • a person who seeks to convert others to the CIT thinking, especially by public exhortation and living the CIT principles.


“Evangelist” is a great ‘tag’ to start because every great idea begins with passionate and great thinking. Great ideas are pushed into being by, change agents or “evangelists”. Evangelists don’t just drink the Kool-Aid, they live it and truly believe in the innovation they espouse.

What separates true evangelists and change agents from the rest of the flock is the intangible fire they possess. Evangelists are willing to bet their political capital and careers on a new ‘disruptive’ process or idea. Evangelists will talk about their project or interests; not just to those interested, but to their colleagues during lunch, their friends when not working, and more.

Evangelists are very persuasive. They are absolutely essential to getting buy-in from the rest of the organization. They are also the ones to convert the first couple of flagship participants. If at least a percentage of your crisis intervention team does not consist of evangelists, the team has a good chance of failing.

Why? Because evangelists conduct themselves like mini-CEO’s. And that’s what you need at a time when roles and responsibilities are still in the process of being defined. You need go-getters, self-starters, and learn-as-you-go people who are willing to put on different hats rather than expect to delegate to an assistant.

Evangelists get their hands dirty. They are not just theorist—they are practitioners. They are willing to work, do, and try. They are willing to show a critical eye, but are also willing to find alternates instead of just criticize.

Only an evangelist can convince a crusty patrol veteran to try a small innovation in dealing with the mentally ill consumer.

Further, evangelists will help you to recruit other strong talent. The intensity of evangelists will probably scare off ho-hum bench-warmers and attract the A-team the big change initiative will need, especially in the formative months.

Years ago one of the men who helped form my world view taught me:

“Everything rises or falls on leadership. Everything.”

And I believed him. He was a true leadership “evangelist”. Dr. Lee Roberson (1909 – 2007), the founder and Chancellor of an alma mater, was fanatically about leadership. And as a result of his fervor, he impacted two generations of leaders.

I am a CIT evangelist. Join the crusade with me, won’t you?

Of course, your mileage may vary…

Dr. Jay

Synopsis and Analysis: Alien Boy Documentary

Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse


Alien Boy is a non-preachy 2013 document which shines light onto the James Chasse police custody death.

The documentary is full of interviews, deposition videos, document reviews, and asks some hard question.  The documentary does not draw a conclusion, rather it lets the watcher decide what to believe.

Chasse was a severely mentally ill person who, by the mental professionals, was a ‘good example case’ for community care.  After years of work and training, he was living independently and doing fair. Unfortunately he stopped taking his medications; which is a part of the disease (schizophrenia), and didn’t take care of himself.  He appeared unkempt and homeless.  Just days before his death, one of his mental health workers tried to visit Chasse at his apartment (with a Portland Police officer), but Chasse ran when he saw the police.  He was mortally afraid of police; based on his mental illness and his prior police contact.

The mental health worker asked the responding officer (Officer Worthington) to “flag” Chasse as severely mental ill.  The hope was to notify other police officers that Chasse would not respond positively to police contact when he was off his medications.  The case worker asked any police who encounter Chasse to contact a case worker 24/7. The worker asked Officer Worthington to make a report of Chasse running from the contact.  The officer declined to write a report and declined to “flag” Chasse.

The fatal meeting with Portland Police began relatively innocuously.  A Portland Police officer (Chris Humphreys) thought he saw Chasse urinating outside in the bushes. Chasse ran when the police tried to contact him.  The officer chased and tackled Chasse.  The physical evidence and eyewitnesses show a full body football style tackle.  The Multnomah County jail video recorded Officer Humphreys describing the tackle as a football tackle.  Officer Humphreys weighs about 240 pounds, Chasse weighed 145 pounds.  Officer Humphreys told a different story under oath at the deposition.

Chasse was hit, kicked, Taser-ed, and struck numerous times by the responding police officers.  He lost consciousness and on-lookers thought he was dead.  Chasse was handcuffed and ‘checked out’ by a responding ambulance team.  The EMTs were not told about the kicks, hits, strikes, use of Taser, or the loss of consciousness.    A sergeant (Portland Police Sergeant Nice) advised that “Chasse was going to jail, if he checked out medically”.

The EMTs said Chasse’s blood pressure was in the normal range.  Sergeant Nice ordered Officer Humphreys to sign the medical release.  Humphreys transported Chasse to the jail, where the jail nurse declined to admit Chasse, due to his poor condition.  Humphreys decided to transport Chasse to the hospital (instead of calling for an ambulance)—Chasse was dead when he arrived at the hospital emergency room.

There were allegations that Chasse was on drugs, was a drug dealer, and had rock cocaine on his person.  None of the allegations were true.  Chasse had not been urinating in the bushes.

Based on the information provided to the Grand Jury, there were no criminal charges.

The Portland Police Bureau conducted an internal investigation from October 2006 – October 2009.  The result of the internal investigation was released to the public in October 2010.  The death occurred in September 2006. The internal investigation only found fault in an officer’s failure to tell responding EMT about the subject’s loss of consciousness, use of physical force, or Tasing.  The internal investigation does acknowledge the ‘take-down’ (as described by Humphreys at the deposition) is not trained by Portland Police.  The medical examiner found Chasse’s death was caused by blunt trauma in his chest, similar to being tackled.

Ultimately the internal investigation did not address the use of force, a lack of underlying valid core transaction, or another myriad of issues.  Essentially the documentary seems to show there is a systemic indifferent problem by police response when dealing with mentally ill persons.

The City of Portland and the AMS (ambulance service) avoided the civil trial by paying about $1.6 million to the Chasse family.  The City denied any wrong-doing and denied a police issue.  A city official said the police didn’t failed; policy failed.

The federal Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation was started by city leaders, but the Portland Police Bureau did not initially cooperate.  The DOJ did determine there is consistent pattern of civil violations by responding Portland Police officers when contacting mentally ill persons.


The documentary was hard to watch.  It makes me ask challenging questions:

Is (police misconduct) an endemic problem in policing today?
Do de-humanizing and de-sensitization exist where I work?
Did systemic de-humanizing and de-sensitization become the norm in policing? How?
Are police responses nearly to the edge of criminal indifference?
Are there long-term solutions? Do we need them?  What are they?
The documentary does not try to find solutions.  I am sure there are no easy solutions.

There are two learning themes to address and hopefully addressing the themes give an ability to grow and learn.  The themes are de-humanizing and de-sensitization by police.  Here are the elements of both themes:








Abnormative behavior

Allowed de-humanizing actions

Rewarded de-humanizing actions


Def: an act or behavior that undermines individuality.  Opposite of personification.  Tactic to deny compassion, moral response, and allows atrocity.  In the extreme it becomes the Holocaust or the Rwanda Genocide.


Language is one of the easiest ways to detect de-humanizing traits seeping into behavior.   Linguist and language specialist can detect family of origin, prejudice (even hidden), socio-economic levels, and much more by hearing normal conversations.  Police language is an easy metric for measuring levels of humanistic vs de-humanizing ideas.

One indicator of de-humanization is how police officers when refer to suspects. De-humanizing begins by using judgmental, non-human, anatomy part, or animalistic language. These are words such as:

Dirt bag, shit head
dick head, cunt, asshole,
bad guy,
fuck-head, fuck-tard,
crackhead, tweaker,
crazies, 12-34,
monkey, loon-toon,
illegals, transients,
or hundreds of names or monikers or identifiers.

This vocabulary indicate the underlying belief that subjects are non-human or less than a whole human.

Other de-humanizing language (without of conscious intent) indicates “us versus them” philosophy. At the core, “us vs. them” means ‘we (police) are good and right’ and ‘they (non-police) are bad or wrong’.  It further delineates the humans from the sub or non-humans.

Some of the language indicating de-humanizing people may be:

  • prey (criminals) vs predator (police)
  • happy hunting
  • thin blue line
  • warrior
  • sheep dog or other words.

Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, lack of tolerance, civil right violations, declination of human rights and hate crime have its roots in de-humanization language.


The most de-humanizing response are de-humanizing actions. This indicates the person being contact “isn’t important as a human being”.

Our actions speak so loud our words can’t be trusted.  Using this approach, the subject’s ability to conform to normal society makes them seem less than human.

Some actions indicating this de-humanizing belief is:

  • Failure to look at the person.
  • Using a ‘paternal’ communication approach in dealing with subjects.
  • Ignoring the obvious present issues (physical, economic, social, etc.).
  • Expecting a person who is mentally ill to respond as if there is no mental illness.
  • Minimize mental illness as a ‘real’ illness.
  • Minimize suffering or pain.
  • Blame the victim.
  • Lack of empathy  “handcuffs aren’t supposed to be comfortable” “shut up” “I didn’t ask you” “I don’t want your information” “you aren’t important”
  • Making fun, ridicule, mock, or deride the subjects with others.
  • Attempt to antagonize the subject to get a negative response therefore giving justification to respond with force.


Beliefs are the most insidious component of de-humanizing.  If you ask a hundred police supervisors or officers:

“Do you believe subjects are sub-human?”

The answer is a resounding “No! We do not belief that. We believe in the sacredness of life.  We treat people as people”.  Unfortunately, language and actions betray beliefs.  Our true beliefs come from the way we talk and act.


Police culture always overcomes police policy.  Policy is always carried out based on the paradigm of the current culture.  Ask yourself; “Is there is preponderance of enforcement leveled to a particular population?”  If the answer is ‘Yes’, does this mean the population is targeted by de-humanizing beliefs?  The answer is maybe. Usually this enforcement bias is not probably by design; bias is more usually by default.

Several police research studies show that enforcement only doesn’t solve community issues.  In spite of this knowledge many supervisors and officers enforce violations and laws differently to various population.  If a subject is well-dressed, well-spoken, affluent, or appears mainstream; there is less chance of enforcement action.  If a subject appears transient or mentally ill there may be more incidents of enforcement action.

Effective policing recognizes that 90% of the solutions are not ‘police’ solutions or ‘enforcement’ solutions.  Solutions that work are community or relationship or education or cooperation solutions.  Effective policing comes from so-called “community policing” or “MDT” (multi-discipline team) policing.

According to many studies of policing there are several prominent types of policing:

  1. Watchmen.  (The Crime Fighter) Emphasizing law and order.  Rules are codified by social, legal, and cultural grounds.
  2. Legalistic.  (The Law Enforcer) Emphasizing law enforcement and professionalism.  Effectiveness is measured by police numbers (arrests, citations, amount of drugs seized, subject contact, etc.)
  3. Service.  (The Social Agent) Emphasizes the functions of police work.  The question is “Why do we do what we do?” Sometimes referred to as “community policing”.
  4. Fluid. (The Hybrid) At any given time an officer may police by any type depending on the need, mood, temperament, or population faced.


Def: a process to become less sensitive.  The process by making (someone) less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty, violence, or suffering by overexposure… Diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative stimulus.  Systemic de-sensitization makes de-humanizing possible.


Police officers are exposed to unimaginable suffering, cruelty, and violence.  The very nature of the job means an effective police officer must be hardened.  They must have some lack of sensitivity.  An effective response may be hard to maintain balance.  The difference between being sensitive to the right things at the right time is a razor’s edge.

Abnormative behavior:

Abnormal behavior becoming normal is nothing new.  Most criminals didn’t start with big crime; most became bolder and criminal acts became more serious.  Domestic violence often starts with lack of respect and de-humanizing language before moving to physical assault.

This is the true nature of de-sensitization.  In police training it is called socialization or ‘becoming a cop’.    Over time, police abnormative behavior becomes normative.  This callous phenomenon displays true police culture.  A ten year police veteran has a different point-of-view than a first year officer.  This is based on exposure of abnormative behavior and developed de-sensitivity.

Allowed de-humanizing action:

Without direct intervention things may go awry.  The landmark Stanford Prison Experiment (later a movie) was a study in perceived power and psychological effects leading to de-humanizing actions.  The de-humanizing actions were allowed and even expected.  This was ‘the way it was supposed to be’.

There is a perception in popular culture that police work (without gender) is a ‘macho’ profession.  There is a certain bravado required, according to the archetypes and Hollywood tropes.  We allow and permit de-humanizing actions and sometimes even encourage them.

Rewarded de-humanizing actions:

There is vast chasm between allowing and rewarding de-humanizing behavior.  However, when our police system does not chasten or correct unwanted behavior, this behavior is essentially being rewarded.  Police systems overtly celebrate or reward de-humanizing actions by promotions, primo assignments, medals, acknowledgment, or other kudos.   Over time this causes the system crumbles into de-humanization.

Rewarded de-humanizing actions is normal in popular movies and television.  Some examples may be:

Terminator series
The Expendables
Mission Impossible
The Departed
Training Day
Dirty Harry
Lethal Weapon
Black Mass
The French Connection
End of Watch
Donnie Brasco
…. And the list goes on
As a society we have created a generation of movie watchers who are de-sensitized and prone to de-humanizing because exposure to popular culture.   This fantasy world, too often, seeps into the real world.


Q:  Is this (police misconduct) an endemic problem in policing today?

A:  The answer depends on who you ask.  Social critics say yes.  The agencies say no.

If a police agency says “Yes”, they open the organization for civil lawsuits, personnel action, and who else knows what is in that Pandora’s Box.   This risk-averse point of view leads to a culture of denial, an inability to self-censure, or ability to change or grow.  If there is no problem; then there is no solution needed.  Nothing to see here.

To find the answer if police misconduct exists, the leaders must examine the agency’s language, thoughts, and police actions.   Historically this examination is the function of federal investigations (Department of Justice/DOJ) when prompted by allegations of wrong-doing.  Sometimes the results lead to a consent decree settlement and becomes the catalyst to change police responses.

The feds have reached over 100 consent degrees in the past 10 years.  By these numbers, there is NOT an issue in policing.  There are almost 18,000 agencies (as of 2012) and there were less than 100 DOJ investigations initiated a year.  This is about ½ of 1% or scientifically noted as .0055.

Q:  Do de-humanizing and de-sensitization exist where I work?

A:  Again, it depends on who you ask.  If there is no problem, there is no solution needed.  It’s easier to deny an issue than solve one.

The progressive forward thinking leader acts pro-actively. Usually this leader may consider this is an issue and work to solve the issue before it becomes a cancer.

Q:  Did systemic de-humanizing and de-sensitization become the norm in policing? How?

A:   I think it is the norm.  However, to survive in the police field there will be some “numbing”.   This became the norm because police agencies have been given the response of responding to mental illness crisis without training or a ‘heads up’.

Society has changed the expectations for police responses.  Historically, police has assumed the role of “law enforcer”.   Today’s police are expected to be “law enforcer” and they are also expected to be responding “social workers”.  The career field was not prepared for these expectations.

The police response that worked in the 1990’s (and prior) do not work in today’s world.  Social media, instant connections, video capture, and popular culture that blurs reality/real life have impacted society’s expectation for police response.    An expected result will be to de-sensitize and de-humanize that which is not familiar.

Q:     Are police responses nearly to the edge of criminal indifference?

A:     The great majority police officers are not indifferent to the human suffering they see daily.  Most are compassionate and humbled by their law enforcement experience.  Criminal indifference becomes when the responding police officers have been given no tools or ways of dealing with the over-whelming stimulus.  Or conversely, police administrators have not recognized when the responding police are over-saturated and need assistance to remember their humanity.



Executive actions:

Allow the possibility there is room for improvement
Create memo discouraging/prohibiting non-humanizing language when writing or acting as an officer
Stop rewarding de-humanizing behavior
Create a dialogue with community partners
Ask for positive examples from the community.  Reward those actions.
Be the example.
Hold self, supervisors, and staff to the example
Find the hiring components that support humanistic ideals and hire those people

Stop using non-humanizing language.
Coach other to stop non-humanizing language
Look for positive language and recognize this behavior
Hold self-accountable for actions
Don’t turn a deaf ear.  Listen for and correct de-humanizing language.

Practice humility. Check your ego
Remember we are a public servant organization
Find ability to create personal resiliency
Recognize humanity when it presents itself
Make a game with yourself to humanize subjects

This synopsis and analysis is the opinion of Officer Jay Irvin, PhD.  Jay is a Police Officer and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).  Jay is a recycled behavior change therapist with an earned Doctorate in Human Behavior Psychology.  He’s a speaker and writer on leadership and organizational change.

Copyright 2017©

These opinions reflect Officer’s Irvin and may not reflect the city or police department belief.

It’s A New Day

I’ve been through the grinder in 2016.

2016 was a crap year.  I had a stroke. Got divorced (again). Lost a position I really wanted.  I had to re-structure my job (and life).  There was Cheeto elected as commander-in-chief…  Adios 2016 and good riddance.  Hello 2017… It’s a new day.

But this is life.  Life is hard.  Wear a cup.

So I’m re-calculating my next move… It hit me like a grumbling tummy after a Taco Bell run… I have to adjust. I have to do what I’ve been training so many managers to do.  I have to  manage change in my life.

If I don’t get the job I wanted (I didn’t)… If I have to live with post-stroke language issues (I do)… How will I manage my life and how will I positively change my life to make adjustments?

For the past 9 months I’ve been the CIT ‘go to guy’ for CIT deliverables.  I’ve written the policies, standard operating policies, and training.  I’ve delivered training.  I’ve participated in the international and regional CIT conferences.  I’ve been a consummate CIT guy.

CIT, for the uninitiated, stands for “Crisis Intervention Team“.  CIT programs have grown for the past 20 years to help communities and police officers respond more effectively to mental ill and other crises calls.

When I was writing a CIT article one of the CIT guys close to the program read it and said “Ya know the way you write it, there isn’t that much difference between CIT and good leadership”.  This is when the proverbial light bulb above my head popped on!   I’m a CIT expert AND a leadership expert.

I’m passionate about leadership, BUT I’m also passionate about helping police officers find more effective solutions when dealing with people who have mental illness.   It truly is a new day.

I’m adjusting this blog.  I’m moving to provide tools for CIT members, leaders, and practitioners.

I do want to provide value… But of course, your mileage may vary.

Dr Jay Irvin

Power of Ignore (Or Ignorance)

ig·nore  verb   —refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally.

fail to consider (something significant)

If you’re like most people you probably deny you ignore problems. But it’s more common that we think.


In fact, ignoring a problem is a coping mechanism we’ve used since cave-man days.   Often it’s easier to ignore a problem instead of trying to solve a problem. If we deem there is no problem then there is no worry about solving a problem that we deem doesn’t even exist!

Personally, being ignorant (a variant of the verb ignore) is a survival mechanism. If facing our problem is not directly linked to survival we make it a lower (or no) priority. Once survival needs are met, it’s easy to ignore other problems. With this mantra, our life seems to become easier…. But this is a fallacy. Ignored problems never go away. What was a small issue becomes a great problem when it is ignored over time.

There are dozens of business examples failing when leaders ignore problems. When the business leaders fail to critically examine policies, process, the market, customers, and trends they ignore potentials problems.

Ignoring problems (or failing to try to proactively find and solve problems) is a failure of leadership.

During the 1990’s my friends were in the 1-hour photo business. Things were profitable for more than 10 years. Business was good. It was easier to ignore future problems. In their business world nothing was changing. Yes, there were some stirrings of electronic digital cameras in a distant horizon, but that technology was expensive. In 1995 a good digital camera cost between $5,000 – $6,000.  There was nothing to worry about. Customers always wanted the cheaper and more convenient 1-hour service. My friends ignored the issue… After all, they had a government contract for film development.  Ignorance was bliss—that is until digital cameras oversold film cameras in 2003. My friends went bankrupt.

Blockbuster video opened first in Dallas Texas in 1985. Nine years later Viacom bought Blockbuster for an unprecedented $8.4 billion. Blockbuster ignored Netflix as a competition. Blockbuster ignored the change in the video market from stores to subscription home delivery. Blockbuster executives literally laughed aloud at a 2002 offer to acquire Netflix. Blockbuster ignores kiosk rental service beginning in 2003 (Redbox). Blockbuster ignored the customer complaints of late fees for 14 years. In September 2010 Blockbuster went bankrupt. Ignoring the changing market and customer needs was expensive.

Circuit City was a 60 year old electronic and appliance behemoth and went belly up because the executive leaders ignored basic problems.

After 120 years in business Kodak Eastman went bankrupt in 2013 because it ignored its core business. Kodak insisted it was in the “film” industry and ignored “digital imaging” as the new paradigm.

This is not unique to business. Government and police organizations litter the landscape with examples of failure due to the power of ignore.

A victim reports a sex crime. The police officer waits a few days to ‘check in’ to the allegations. Ignored and avoided, the victim went to the local news outlet to get answers. The Chief of Police is then explaining the lack of timely response by the officer and trying to avoid a public embarrassment. The officer is censured for ignoring the call for service.

A senior executive received damning information about the organization. The boss gave the executive a mandate to investigate and find the validity of the information. The executive delayed 2 months to beginning an investigation. The message is: Ignore a message long enough and it may go away. Conversely the thinking is: This issue isn’t serious enough to put energy into it. They ignored the seriousness of the allegations.

An agency chief bemoaned aloud that there was no accountability for his executive staff.   He indicated there were no measurements to determine if the junior staffers were being effective. Eventually he decided there were no effective way to measure efficacy of staff work; so the problem went away. He ignored the real issue.

Months ago a senior executive administrator was asked a similar question: “What are the matrices or benchmarks associated with [a key position in the organization]? After the executive stopped laughing (yes, he literally laughed out loud), he said:

“There is no way to measure effectiveness in [that position]. There are no benchmarks or matrices.”

Essentially he said no problem exists, so we can ignore a problem we haven’t specified.

What are the differences between these responses?  In substance, the officer, the senior executive, and the chief was ignoring or denying that problems exists. This is a leadership fail.

The reason business and government leaders ignore problems is because they fear change. Period. Dr. Robert Kriegel (Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers) wrote that in 1996.   News flash: 20 years later— NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

In 2016 John Kotter (author of That’s Not How We Do it Here)  postulates organizations need disruption and stability to thrive.   Management is about stability.  Leadership is about disruption.  There is no place to ignore issues.   Leaders disrupt. Leaders need courage.

Organizationally blissful ignorance is sometimes the modus operandi. For managers and supervisors it’s easier to ignore problems rather than try to effect solutions. Maintaining the status quo is safer than working to solve an issue. The mantra seems to be

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Dr. Kriegel says new mantra should be

“If it ain’t broke; Break it”

Kriegel says we must face our fears and embrace whatever change we experience.  There is no dodging the rapid change of society.  Things change more quickly than it used to and the pressures can be intense.

The opposite of ignorance is not knowledge.  The opposite of ignorance is courage.  The solution to ignorance is to develop courage.  We dispel ignorance by courageously asking questions and seeking answers.  If we, as leaders, experience courage then our knowledge grows and our ignorance doesn’t have so much power.

We must have courage :

  • To look at the unknown
  • To ask questions that are uncomfortable
  • To challenge the status quo
  • To act when action is needed
  • To be politically incorrect
  • To “get it wrong”
  • To see past the platitudes and seek causal issues
  •  To feel discomfort and move past it

Yes, there is a power to ignore…. But ignorance not a positive power.

Of course, your mileage may vary…

Dr. Jay






What Can I Trust?

I am haunted by my hospitalist words. It was the next day in the ICU,  after being admitted for my CVA (Cerebrovascular accident).   My doctor spoke with a slight Russian accent.  Her tone was very ‘matter of fact’, like a weather forecast, or like an un-engaged bureaucrat issuing droll hum-drum tax information. She said:

“You’ll never work as a police officer again…. Maybe it’s time you get nice office job”

I was stunned. I thought “you don’t know me”. I was outraged. I was hurt. I couldn’t hear anything else this doctor told me. I insisted that she leave my hospital room. How could this doc know this with such certainty?  I didn’t trust her words.

It’s almost 8 months since she told me this.  I’m still not working as a “real” police officer.  I’m still on light duty.   Her prophecy has slightly cracked my shell and I finally conceded she might be correct.  Last week my speech therapist told me “you’re not progressing as we thought you should have been”.   I still have trouble remembering how to pronounce words.  I can see an object and can identify it, but I cannot remember or say the word to identify the object.   I can’t trust my brain.

I was describing a church pew.  The word “pew” wouldn’t come to my thinking.  I could only remember how to say it when the person I was talking with asked me “pew, right?”  Not that “pew” comes out in conversation very frequently, but it was disturbing I couldn’t remember a word that is this familiar to me.  I can’t trust my vocabulary.

I like to sing.  I’m not a professional singer, but I enjoy it.  I’ve been singing all my life and literally knew the lyrics for over 1,000 songs.  Now I can remember the melody line, but not the lyrics.  This week I spent hours trying to remember the title of our national anthem.  Weird, since I’ve performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” several times.  Now I can remember the title and the opening line — the rest of the lyrics continue to elude me.  It’s frustrating, I can’t trust my memory.

There are more foibles I am unwilling to share in this forum.

I did chat with the city’s disability guru.  She was pleasant, but seemed to know something I wasn’t willing to admit.  She said when I am ready to come back to work it “might not be at the police department”.  Strange she knows more about my possibilties than I know.  I don’t trust the city’s best intentions.

I’ve been very absent writing because it is very hard to write for me right now.  Not the content…. That’s the easy part.  So that I do not sounding like a whiner…. And putting these ideas in readable sentences that make sense…. And not showing my self-disgust for not getting better quickly…. These are the challenges.   I don’t trust my writing.

AFGO— Another freakin’ growth opportunity…. I just don’t trust it….

Of course, your mileage may vary.

Dr Jay Irvin