In part two of our interview with retired police chief and recent author Kristen Ziman (Imagining Blue: Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and a New Way Forward in Policing), we focus on recent events and the resultant calls for police reform with an increased expectation of deliverable police services. We discuss the best way for law enforcement to meet those demands as well as the need for a significant government investment of money and resources to provide more education and training for all police departments.
Kristen talks about the development of leadership in the police service, and why it is now an important component of all levels of training. We talk about the essential qualities of a leader and the need to show respect and build trust with others if you expect them to follow your lead. A chief or supervisor should not hide their vulnerabilities in areas where they are deficient or unqualified. They should seek the help of subject-matter experts to support and aid in the pursuit of the Department’s mission(s).
Listen as the conversation segues from theoretical to real-world situations. Kristen candidly describes three events that not only tested her leadership but left indelible marks on both her career and life. The first occurred in 2019 when a shooter opened fire on co-workers, killing five and, in the ambush that followed, five responding officers were wounded. The following year COVID struck, virtually shutting down everything in her city, except police operations. She speaks to the unified effort of all Department members and their willingness to adapt and adjust to ensure that the safety and protection of all Aurora’s residents came first. The last, and perhaps most debilitating crisis, was the unexpected need to confront the rioting, looting and the loss of public trust in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, more than four hundred miles away. As Kristen succinctly puts it, “We went from heroes to zeroes in less than two years” and did nothing wrong.
Our episode concludes with Kristen reflecting on her retirement and relocation to Florida. In her newly found “free time” she has turned to writing essays. This prompted her desire to write a book about her life and the lessons she’s learned about leadership along the way. Her important life messages shared in print and in podcasts such as this one, have led to speaking engagements about leadership and consultant opportunities with other police departments.