The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership

TCD Podcast, Darrel Stephens, Ep37, retired Chief, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police

August 30, 2021 Darrel Stephens Season 2 Episode 37
The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership
TCD Podcast, Darrel Stephens, Ep37, retired Chief, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
Show Notes Transcript

Darrel Stephens is a retired chief, who served with the Kansas City Police Department, Assistant Chief with the Lawrence, Kansas Police Department, Chief of the Largo, FL Police Department, Chief of Newport News Police, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.  A proponent and believer in action research, he has been a lifelong advocate for policing.  

In addition to his police service, he served as the Executive Director with the Police Executive Research Foundation, and Executive Director for the Major Cities Chiefs Association.


[00:00:02.060] - Intro

Welcome to the Cop Doc podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas. The Cop Doc share thoughts and ideas as he talks with leaders in policing communities, academia and other government agencies. And now please join Dr Steve Morreale and industry thought leaders as they share their insights and experience on the Cop Doc pod as well.

 


[00:00:32.230] - Steve Morreale

Hello, everybody again. This is Steve Morreale from Boston. And we have the distinct pleasure and honor to talk to an innovator himself, a leader himself, Darryl Stevens, who is sitting talking to us in South Carolina. Good morning, dawn.

 


[00:00:45.090] - Darrel Stephens

Good morning, Steve. Great to on you. I've been looking forward to the conversation. It's been a while.

 


[00:00:50.220] - Steve Morreale

It has been a while. Thank you for everything you have done for policing. For me in concert, going back in time for those listeners. I was working on a project for decision-making. I reached out to to Darryl, who is a former chief in many different places. He was the executive director of was it PERF?

 


[00:01:07.560] - Darrel Stephens

Yeah. Police Executive Research Forum.

 


[00:01:10.070] - Darrel Stephens

And later the Major City Chiefs Association. And you have chief in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. And you know, where you were all over the place. I guess you couldn't keep a job. But you started in Kansas City.

 


[00:01:20.730] - Darrel Stephens

I did start in Kansas City, and my career path, Steve, is very different than most people in our world. And it was kind of risky at times. But I said I had the opportunity to work on research. Police Foundation funded research in Kansas City as a police officer. Opened my mind to thoughts and exposed to people in ways that I was incredibly fortunate to have been able to have that experience. But one of the things that it did for me was helped me recognize that the profession this is in the early 70s, had a long way to go and from learning and watching other people to get there.

 


[00:01:56.940] - Darrel Stephens

To have an impact on the profession in my mind was to be a police chief. And so you think about staying where you're at for 25 years and hoping that you're the person that they select after all those years to run your Department. Or you could make yourself available for other job opportunities and take a career path that way, which is what I chose to do, had more control over it, more opportunity if I look more broadly across the field. And fortunately, it worked out for me.

 


[00:02:23.490] - Darrel Stephens

So you started in a Kansas Department, didn't you?

 


[00:02:26.240] - Darrel Stephens

Missouri. Kansas City, Missouri.

 


[00:02:27.660] - Steve Morreale

Okay. And then where was your first chief position?

 


[00:02:31.260] - Darrel Stephens

My first chief job was in Largo, Florida. But I left Kansas City to go to Lawrence, Kansas, as the assistant police chief.

 


[00:02:39.770] - Steve Morreale

Ahh, That's where I saw that.

 


[00:02:40.820] - Darrel Stephens

I'd applied for several jobs. I was pretty young. I went to Lawrence's assistant police sheet. At 28 years old, I was the youngest person above Corporal in the Department. Advantage and disadvantage, of course, it was advantage because you relate to the young officers very well, but they didn't quite have the experience that people with longer time. I did. But I was there about three and a half years and then got my first chief job at 31 in Lawrence in or

 


[00:03:06.970] - Steve Morreale

What a change.

 


[00:03:08.330] - Darrel Stephens

Was a change.?

 


[00:03:09.930] - Steve Morreale

 So are you from the Midwest, originally?

 


[00:03:11.150] - Darrel Stephens

Originally, from Kansas City. I grew up in Kansas City when I started on a police Department. Had I not been exposed to those people in a research, I probably would have stayed there in that Department and not really looked around much. I also had the experience. I was selected as a fellow at the National Institute of justice, actually the first police fellow that they'd ever had. And I didn't compete with anybody except for folks within the Department, but they wanted somebody from the police Department who had been involved with some of those research projects to be there for a year.

 


[00:03:44.160] - Darrel Stephens

And so I was fortunate enough to do that. And that also also contributed to my thinking about how important it was that we continue to make progress in policing.

 


[00:03:52.980] - Steve Morreale

Well, part of what you were able to do is to take the time, step away reflect and think and apply. Is that true?

 


[00:03:58.040] - Darrel Stephens

Exactly. Exactly. I've got involved in lots of projects back then. I don't know if you ever remember Morton Bard was doing. He was kind of one of the first people that really got engaged in providing training for domestic violence to handle domestic violence and helping us understand more about the impact of the domestic violence. It had an opportunity to work on a project in Kansas City that looked at domestic violence. We looked at a large number of cases over a two year period with the thinking that if we had had prior contact with either the victim of the suspect, then our potential for maybe doing something preventative increase because we've tried to figure out I know it's a bad word now a profile of particular victims or suspects.

 


[00:04:45.560] - Darrel Stephens

And we even had a National Institute of Mental Health grant to try to figure out a profile that would allow us to when we saw that profile, work harder at getting social services to into that family.

 


[00:04:58.070] - Steve Morreale

Well, think about that what you just said. And over the years, the changes that you have seen and been through, and it's almost like history repeats itself. We're back in the same place in some cases. I mean, when you think back to the 60 68 and in my classroom use the Kansas City prevented a patrol experiment of what you're telling me you were a part of which is amazing.

 


[00:05:18.330] - Darrel Stephens

It's a different project, but it was at the same time.

 


[00:05:20.640] - Steve Morreale

But you were there while that was going on. Right. So that's quite amazing. And it's interesting because that was a very meaningful although it was resisted at first. But it was a very meaningful look at policing changed many of the things that we do single man cars instead of two man cars and all that kind of stuff. But it's interesting that much like in 68 after the riots and the President's Commission and all of that kind of stuff that we supposedly took a very granular look at policing.

 


[00:05:46.940] - Steve Morreale

We came up, as you will, livedpoo-pooed through them with many, many recommendations. And many of them were just poo pooed. And we're back here again. Darryl, so you're watching what's going on. I have to assume that a man like you who has been so invested in policing and police research and speaking and being a thought leader where you're always giving hope to police. My guess is because deep down inside, you, like myself, must love police.

 


[00:06:12.680] - Darrel Stephens

I do. I have been as people who are in the field working through these issues, I've been pretty frustrated with what has gone on. I think it's a profession. We kind of lost our way for a while after the cops money was made available to us, and we got a lot more sophisticated. We certainly built really great partnership with most of our communities, had the ability to where the technology was such we could pick up trends pretty quickly. I didn't have to wait a month for the statistics to come out to see a trend that had already come and gone.

 


[00:06:43.070] - Darrel Stephens

So I think we started using tactics that we use in its six flooding areas, doing aggressive patrolling based on these statistics. And we forgot about engaging the community. And so over a period of years, it manage the crime. It certainly was enough to where it had some influence over the crime. But we left some problems in our awake. A lot of places didn't maintain the connections with their community. And so when a Michael Brown happens and you start looking around for those partners who were there, they're no longer there.

 


[00:07:15.980] - Darrel Stephens

And so then we have to rebuild again. And so for me, that was very frustrating. But for the departments that said, hey, we've got to rethink this and make sure that we have those relationships, they have done pretty well. Shelvin changed the whole world again. And even departments that had been working on relationships that just had an enormous impact on poisoning. And it'll be yours, I think, before we're able to fully recover from that.

 


[00:07:42.620] - Steve Morreale

One of my concerns has always been as a student of leadership, have been in a student of policing. And as you know, in 35, 40 years in policing myself, is that there is a great deal of leaders in policing that are remaining mute through this. And that's troubling to me. Because, as you just said, if there's an agency where perhaps you are continuing to nurture relationships because relationships have to be continually worked on, people change. People move. They're not saying, look, that's not us. And this is the reason it's not us.

 


[00:08:13.380] - Steve Morreale

And this is what we're doing to try to avoid this from happening again. Reach back as you have in your history and your background, reach to the community to find out what their concerns are, not what the police think the concerns are. I'm seeing you shake your head, talk about that.

 


[00:08:27.270] - Darrel Stephens

It is we focus on those crime statistics when we engage the community. I've been in hundreds of community meetings, as few as five or ten people and some three or 400 people, but we always start out giving them the update on the crime statistics, just kind of what we do. That's what we thought, that people are most concerned out. Turns out that they're not uninterested in the crime statistics. But there's a lot of other things that they care about, a lot more. The abandoned house two doors down that's turned into a drug den, the house across the street that has 1000 code violations and brings the whole neighborhood down.

 


[00:09:03.140] - Darrel Stephens

There's talk now of having somebody else do traffic enforcement like it's not important. Well, if you go to a neighborhood and you're in that neighborhood for ten minutes, one of the first two or three things that are going to be on their mind are those cars that speed up and down the street or they don't stop at stop sign. And so we have to listen. We struggle a lot with listening. We think we're the expert, and we bring a lot to the table and can be very helpful.

 


[00:09:29.420] - Darrel Stephens

But we can't be as helpful as we could be if we paid attention to what people said and try to be responsive to their concerns.

 


[00:09:36.390] - Steve Morreale

Well, Darrel from a political standpoint without getting too political, you understand, because you have lived through, as I have lived through changes of administration, changes of points of view, changes of where money will go. And I think we also went through a little bit of a crisis, period. I was fortunate and somewhat harmed by my ability to have gone on 911 to New York and bring some agents down there. So I saw firsthand what terrorism did to our country and the DEA and destruction. But I was also beforehand very involved in trying to get other agencies in New England to think about community and community policing.

 


[00:10:08.220] - Steve Morreale

And unfortunately, at least in my estimation, when 911 happened, the community policing funds shriveled up and we became terror prevention, whatever the hell we we're looking for for terrorists. But it seems to me that at the base, at the root, it was the community mindedness. It was the community knowledge. It was community neighborhood policing that could have ferreted out some of that. But we turned our back on it, and I think it's the vacation of police officers. Okay, what do you want us to do, Chief now?

 


[00:10:33.780] - Steve Morreale

Okay, we'll do that now. We're going to do this now. We're going to now that they're almost on standby, it's a crazy change that police go through.

 


[00:10:39.590] - Darrel Stephens

It is. 9/11 was a contributor to pulling away from the community as well. Except one of the things that we had to learn, as if we're going to understand the terrorist threat in our communities. We're not going to do that unless we have people talk to us. I mean, you can do all the intelligence and all that kind of thing that you want to do, and you can learn a lot from crunching the data and doing the searches. But that won't replace and does not replace somebody in a neighborhood, somebody in a community, somebody in a Mosque, somebody that sees something and says something.

 


[00:11:12.530] - Darrel Stephens

And without that, our effectiveness is very limited. It all for me at all. It all revolves around at some level. If you're going to be an effective police agency, you really, really have to have strong relationships, strong partnerships in and with both the police, other agencies, numbers of the community bringing all that they can bring to the table to create a safe environment. Please can't do that alone. Community can't do that long. We really, truly have to work together to be able to do that.

 


[00:11:48.060] - Steve Morreale

Another item that I begin to harp on. And I heard in much of the training that I've been able to do. But what you realize in policing, I'm quite sure, you know, that so few people are willing, for any number of reasons, to raise their hand to become a Sergeant, to become a Lieutenant, to become a cheap and so that so many people come into the police Department and the day they raise their hand to be sworn, they are officers. So and so and they will retire as officer so and so.

 


[00:12:13.200] - Steve Morreale

And I think over time, it becomes repetitive. I guess part of what I want to talk about is leadership and motivating and engaging, never mind just the community, but engaging the police officers in that agency to work on a problem and find solutions together rather than just from the Ivory Palace, just from the chief in the command step. What do you think about that?

 


[00:12:35.040] - Darrel Stephens

I think you're absolutely right. There's a lot of people that are unwilling to take that next step to manage into lead. I'm involved with help create a Police Executive Leadership Institute as support of the major City Chiefs Association that is aimed at helping prepare people to be Chiefs or sheriffs in large cities. We've had seven classes, 130 or so people graduate from the program. It's face over a year's period of time. And what's interesting is they're all really top quality, good people, but they're relatively small numbers of people that say, I want to do that job, and it's never been more difficult than it is in today's world.

 


[00:13:15.030] - Darrel Stephens

And so I got to be a lot more investment in working with people and developing them and encouraging them to take that next step, to be leaders and supervisors and managers and do the kinds of things that helps truly make a policing and profession one that is capable of doing a broad range of things. And certainly we could use some help in the mental health area and that kind of thing. But to me, to need that flexible wellrounded, police officers on the street that can handle a wide variety of situations in the proper way, treat people with respect, able to deescalate them.

 


[00:13:51.410] - Darrel Stephens

And for the most part, the police do that pretty well.

 


[00:13:53.720] - Steve Morreale

Well, so many of the guests on the podcast, when I raised the question about how force looks, it never looks good and certain at all. When somebody does not want to be brought in, it's not going to look pretty. And sometimes there's abuse, but many times it's just we need to use force to bring them in because we've made that decision. But so little of our time in policing is spent actually handcuffing people or bringing people in. There's so many other elements of policing. Later on today, I'm actually going to be talking to somebody from a North Carolina police agency.

 


[00:14:25.220] - Steve Morreale

And he is the new captain of training and is starting to talk about secession planning and leadership development, which I think is a major step for let's talk about leadership. Since you were involved in building this Police Executive Leadership Institute, what were the elements that you feel -this is what we want to have the students talk about, think about, reflect about?

 


[00:14:47.610] - Darrel Stephens

We focus on a wide range of things that deal with leadership. One of the core pieces is emotional intelligence, understanding yourself, what you're all about, managing the stress that comes with doing this job. We do a 360 assessment, and they have coaches that go over that with them. And every member of the class has a mentor. One of the major city Chiefs mentors that they over the six month period of time they spend time with. And part of the program is they send a week with that chief and their agency looking at what they're doing.

 


[00:15:23.250] - Darrel Stephens

And some of those mentor relationships have lasted five or six or seven years beyond the time that they were involved in the program. What we try to do is bring give them a lot of contact with experience Chiefs. And one of the things that I have to say that major city Chiefs have done is they've been incredibly candid. They've been honest about their mistakes. They all have pretty big egos, and they like to talk about their successes. But in this program, they've talked about the things that didn't go quite as well as they wanted their whole assistant or deputy chief.

 


[00:15:54.180] - Darrel Stephens

So they're successful in their own right. But basically, what they see about how chief operates is their own chief. And so we give them experiences from a wide range of chief in the way that they've handled different problems and all challenges that they've had and dealt with personnel issues and kind of a full range of things. But we also have a series of sessions that integrate policing with the world and with the full range of services and government and the impacts of what's going on in the world and how that affects the police and how leaders need to respond to those situations.

 


[00:16:27.440] - Darrel Stephens

A lot on crisis leadership. And as you know, there's plenty of crisis that take place in our world, across the country. And so we're never any shortage of crisis. And some of those crisises are handled incredibly well, some not so well, and they get a taste of both of them. What's the cheap thinking? What kind of decisions are they having to make and who do they listen to and who do they go to when they're looking for some help in thinking through some of these tough problems that they have to deal with?

 


[00:17:01.400] - Darrel Stephens

We spend this whole second session at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and there's do a range of things. But one whole day is looking at what happened, how the police handled the Nazis, and how some of them went right along with Hitler's program. Others did a lot of things to help ease the impact of that kind of government and people. And so they really stood up and exhibited leadership in a way that was very threatening to their own lives.

 


[00:17:31.270] - Steve Morreale

So a couple of things that I'm thinking as we're talking about this, I want to talk about what we count. Are we counting the wrong things? So it seems to me that you have been well regarded as somebody who very early on was looking at evidence and evidence based and data. But I also worry about those who get the bite to do evidence based policing and not balance relationships and feedback. And I'd be curious to know, how do you do that? How did you do that as a chief?

 


[00:17:58.020] - Steve Morreale

Because you can move certain assets to address a particular issue. But if that's you do and lose sight of relationships in the neighborhood, I think it backfires. But your own thoughts.

 


[00:18:10.240] - Darrel Stephens

I have very strong advocate of a problem oriented policing, problem solving for a long time? In fact, while I was the chief in Newport News, it was the first Department in the country to test whether or not police officers could truly engage in problem-solving. Special unit officers on the street patrolling there beat making time to work on and analyze and solve problems. And if you focus it from the problem-solving perspective and you ask yourself, who has influence on this problem, who are the stakeholders?

 


[00:18:40.780] - Darrel Stephens

And then you begin to identify people that might be able to contribute not only a better understanding of the problem, but can contribute ways that maybe the only place that you could actually solve it without being the enforcement issue. And enforcement doesn't solve it anyway. It's a temporary fix. And then you come back and you have the same issues. So problem-solving is about working with the people who are in influence are affected by the problems and looking for longer lasting solutions that doesn't necessarily push things in the criminal justice system.

 


[00:19:12.400] - Darrel Stephens

So if we did more of that today, doing that today would actually, I think, help improve relationships and help us wrestle through some of the tough issues and tough problems the police officers you're dealing with on the street.

 


[00:19:23.980] - Steve Morreale

So you told me that you're going down to Orlando pretty soon to talk with a group. There'll be several hundred people there from the National Academy, their graduates in the National Academy. Is that right?

 


[00:19:32.460] - Darrel Stephens

Right.

 


[00:19:32.740] - Steve Morreale

What's part of your met without giving it away, because this won't go on until after you've done that.

 


[00:19:37.360] - Darrel Stephens

Yeah. Well, I'm on a small panel that's going to talk about defunding and the impact the covet on policing. And so he's been a lot of conversations that defunding. But the reality is, so far of the large cities, there's been maybe a dozen that have had real hit financial hit from their Council members deciding to take away money from the police and moving someplace else. And they are really excited experiencing that impact, relatively few more of them. In fact, I would be surprised if there's not any city in the country and police depart, but it hasn't been affected by Coven huge revenue losses when everything was shut down.

 


[00:20:18.220] - Darrel Stephens

Its most cities around the country a significant source of the revenue is sales tax. And if your businesses are closed, you don't get that sales tax revenue. So there's been a lot of departments that have frozen, not field positions. You know, if they can find them, they couldn't fill them. Yeah.

 


[00:20:34.630] - Steve Morreale

Because the cities or towns are trying to balance the budget, not because they'd be funding.

 


[00:20:38.290] - Darrel Stephens

Right. Exactly right. They don't have the money. And unlike federal governments, they can't run a deficit. They got to balance their budget every year. And as everybody knows, the police are a significant portion of the general revenue. And if you want to get savings of any kind, the police are going to be affected. And if you're going to get money out of the police is going to have to come from people because it's 90%. Some cities as much as 95 percent of their budget is personnel overtime costs, those kind of things.

 


[00:21:07.480] - Darrel Stephens

So that means a reduction of people.

 


[00:21:09.580] - Steve Morreale

Say that again.

 


[00:21:10.510] - Steve Morreale

Because as I'mdoing training when you're doing with sergeants who don't have a clue about the budget and never looked at their budget? And you ask them a question, how much do you think is put into our fixed cost for personnel? And I'm not talking about anything other than personnel pay, overtime and benefits. And so many people would say 60 or 70, but you just gave a number.

 


[00:21:29.370] - Darrel Stephens

Yeah. Particularly in recent years, 90% to 95%.

 


[00:21:32.910] - Steve Morreale

Amazing, isn't it?.

 


[00:21:34.010] - Darrel Stephens

15 years ago, that number would have been still a big number, 85% or so. Now there's a lot of them that are to 95% of their budget quickly on personnel. And I've been through these exercises and been through in several cities times where right after 911, the travel industry shut down for several months, that had a big impact on sales tax and that whole industry. And so we were cutting our budget, and unfortunately, we didn't have to lay people off. We didn't hire for a while to be able to cover make up to those deficits.

 


[00:22:06.520] - Steve Morreale

Well, and one of the things, unfortunately, that goes quite quickly is training in the training budget that we have to trim back. And that's a shame, too. I guess police agencies find themselves ebbing and flowing if for money because of money issues because of the things that are out there, the economics, let alone the issues that are out there that bring disrepute to policing. Let me ask you about this, though. You're sitting in your house on January 6 and somebody draws your attention to what's going on on TV.

 


[00:22:32.760] - Darrel Stephens

What were you thinking? What was your reaction to January 6?

 


[00:22:35.680] - Darrel Stephens

Well, I was surprised to see that the capital police were not as well prepared as they should have been for that event. I was shocked. It was difficult for me to understand why in the world with the intelligence it was out there. I know they've had some intelligence snafus that if they weren't equally as well prepared for that as they were for some of the Cahuvin demonstration that took place, I think that was the biggest surprise. The other was just this total frustration and dismay that a group of people would break into the capital of the United States of America.

 


[00:23:13.270] - Darrel Stephens

They weren't there the protests, which is their right, and we protect them in ensuring that they do that peacefully. But just to break in the nation's capital and destroy property, and these are supposed to be Patriots. Come on. That was a dark day in American history for that to happen. And hopefully most of them will be held accountable not only accountable.

 


[00:23:34.660] - Steve Morreale

But they'll be ready the next time. I certainly hope that that's the case. And hopefully there won't be a next time. As we begin to wind down, we talk an awful lot about research and action research. And I will tell you now, as a former police executive, now an academic scholar, one of the things that frustrates me and I am part of that problem is the slowness in which academia comes up with usable findings from research because it can be two and three years. And on the other side, and I know you played a hand W th the Police Executive Research Forum and with Major City Chiefs Association to try to speed that up a little bit.

 


[00:24:10.420] - Steve Morreale

But action research is important. Talk about that. Talk about what your vision for that?

 


[00:24:14.830] - Darrel Stephens

Well, that's even an area of interest for me for a very long time. And in fact, that's valid perf that was actually was created in part was just to promote research in policing and and to work with the academic community in a way. Findings were reported in a policy relevant way. And that well, it was readable right, too. Yeah, that's exactly right. And I think we still suffer from that today. Most of the journals and criminology and policing are almost not understandable by normal people. I mean, normal is not the right word.

 


[00:24:51.100] - Steve Morreale

But by the layman.

 


[00:24:52.650] - Darrel Stephens

Yeah. Non-academics and please change. People in policing, for the most part, are not academics. And so if your doing that work to influence them, he had to be able to explain it to them a way that helps them see how this makes sense. I can use this research to do this, or I can use this research help reinforce my ability to not respond to all calls immediately. Some of them can be held while you can manage your workload. Research helps me improve the use of my resources.

 


[00:25:22.330] - Darrel Stephens

I don't have to have two officers in a car for everybody to be safe and those kinds of things. And for me, diminishing the timeframe. But part of what happens is that people it takes them so long to write it up. It's two or three years after the research is finished. Probably the chief that you worked with on the project is no longer there. It happened to me next was not interested.

 


[00:25:43.390] - Steve Morreale

Right.

 


[00:25:43.750] - Darrel Stephens

So it's working on some of those basic things. And if we can get more researchers embedded in policing and living with them and working with them on a day to day basis, I think the outcomes are much better. Do you know Mike Scott, University of Arizona?

 


[00:25:58.170] - Steve Morreale

Yes.

 


[00:25:58.480] - Darrel Stephens

He worked at PERF when I was there.

 


[00:26:00.130] - Steve Morreale

Oh. I didn't know that.

 


[00:26:01.780] - Darrel Stephens

Part of his time is devoted to the working with the Phoenix Police Department. They have a ton of different initiatives that they've worked on, and they've done not big research projects, but everyday struggling issues that people with academic knowledge and skills can help departments resolve because they push things if they think about things differently. And if we had more of that, then the evidence that we have to implement certain policies or to do certain initiatives would be much stronger, much quicker to bring about. And if you're in involved with each other and doing it, the understanding goes way up.

 


[00:26:37.120] - Steve Morreale

Well, it's all about relationship and trust, which goes right back to what we talk about with the community. And isn't that ironic that it's all the same sort of things?

 


[00:26:44.190] - Darrel Stephens

Exactly right.

 


[00:26:45.540] - Steve Morreale

And it strikes me how important that is. I know it's very easy for a guy like me to walk into virtually any police department in the world. And at first there may be some resistance. But once I talk the talk, everything comes down, all the walls come down and not all academics can do that. And I think there's great benefit to that. And I'm very lucky in that way. If you, and I know you've done this kind of work before, walked into a police Department with current-day problems, the state of policing today, Darrel, what are the top three things that police executives should be focusing on to try to bring things back to center.

 


[00:27:20.670] - Darrel Stephens

Basically, some of the things we've talked about, if they've drifted away from their communities, begin to engage them today, probably more so than any time in our history. The police executive need to pay a lot of attention to the mental and physical health of their officers. Enormous stress for them. Hopefully, it's easy up a little bit. But you sound officers catch a lot of grief from people that they encounter. And I know they've received support, but like a lot of us, we tend to focus on those other things more than the support part.

 


[00:27:53.730] - Darrel Stephens

It's always been a hard job, really hard to go out and take a beating for something that didn't happen in your Department that you didn't do. You've treated people with respect your whole time, and then you have to deal with stuff that happened a thousand miles away from you. So she'll working on those relationships inside, working on those relations out, relationships outside third, I think probably several things, but actually, I think those two things that's fine Well.

 


[00:28:21.570] - Steve Morreale

You just said something and something some other guests have said is that in many cases, and I know you know this, that there are so many stressors that come from inside the police Department as much as outside the police department, the police will tell you. And studies have shown that they're more worried about the way they're being treated inside rather than outside, somebody's driving them, somebody's not allowing for mistakes. And so we talk about procedural justice. But I'd like you to weigh in on this. Procedural justice is very valuable outside, but should not there be internal procedural justice and a focus on that?

 


[00:28:54.490] - Speaker 2

Go ahead.

 


[00:28:54.880] - Darrel Stephens

There absolutely should Steve, one of the areas and I almost mentioned this a minute ago is the way we handle discipline in police agencies. I wrote a paper for the Harvard Executive Session about ten years or so ago now, looking at the state of discipline in the US and it's a total mess. Officers know it's a mess. We know it's a mess. Arbitration is part of the civilian oversight that people see as the panacea. They're not as strip as police Chiefs are on imposing discipline. And the focus is almost exclusively punishment.

 


[00:29:30.750] - Darrel Stephens

And in today's environment, even more so, particularly from the activist perspective. And our focus needs to be on behavior change certainly hold people accountable. Everybody should be held accountable at whatever level of your in the organization for an appropriate behavior. But there's a difference between intentional mistake and mistakes of the mind. That where you thought you were doing the right thing turned out wrong. People are getting punished for that. And all that does is push people further and further away from taking any risk at all and trying to do the job.

 


[00:30:04.060] - Darrel Stephens

So internal procedural justice for or you're going to have better employees they're going to feel better about. They're not unwilling to be held accountable. But how can you make a mistake today and then 18 months later gets suspended for that mistake?

 


[00:30:16.980] - Steve Morreale

Darrel, in my own history, I remember not wearing my hat. I got a day off. Can you imagine that? And no one would really like, really. It's a violation. It was just that was the way that police Department.

 


[00:30:27.300] - Speaker 3

And that's what all supervisors were supposed to do with that kind of stuff. Years ago. They wern't supposed to coach. They wern't supposed to teach. They were supposed to support. They were supposed to catch you not wearing your hat or being off your beat or doing whatever. Yeah, whatever. And that's just not the way the world should operate.

 


[00:30:45.460] - Steve Morreale

Great. So a couple of other questions. And what keeps you in the game? You could, you should, you have retired and you keep coming back for more. Are you crazy? Are you a glutton for punishment? What the hell?

 


[00:30:58.890] - Darrel Stephens

No. It's part of what keeps me going is the ability to continue you to work on these issues and problems. Working with the Leadership Institute, I get to meet and get to know very well. 22. Our class size is Max's. 22 young men and women, the first group of people who want to carry that mantle forward. And I don't know how much I help them, but any little bit that I can help them be successful and effective. I know it's going to make a difference in our field as we go forward.

 


[00:31:28.470] - Darrel Stephens

So this is truly done for me, a career that's had its ups and downs. But I always felt that the work that we do matters makes a difference. And to continue to be allowed to have a part in that helps me get up every day.

 


[00:31:43.690] - Steve Morreale

It keeps your finger in the pulse. And what you're doing is paying forward, which is so amazing to be able to do.  So if you had a chance to talk to somebody dead or alive that you have respect for, and you would have the opportunity to pick their brain, who might that be?

 


[00:31:56.500] - Darrel Stephens

Clarence Kelly.

 


[00:31:57.780] - Steve Morreale

Oh, wow. Yeah.

 


[00:31:58.860] - Darrel Stephens

Clarence Kelly was police chief in Kansas City, Missouri when I was hired.

 


[00:32:01.860] - Steve Morreale

After the FBI director, later the FBI director.

 


[00:32:04.750] - Darrel Stephens

Right. He came to Kansas City from the FBI back in Memphis, and then 1973, President Nixon had pointed him as the FBI director. He's a person that does not get anywhere near the credit he deserves. Where the impact he had on policing in America, both as a police chief in Kansas City and then when he went back to the FBI, he was the one that I was established. He was the director of the FBI and the research that he promoted. For me, he was guy that kind of walked on water and policing.

 


[00:32:36.550] - Darrel Stephens

I mean, he was effective leader. He was thoughtful, risk-taker. Nobody else in the country, I think, could have done the preventing patrol experiment. His kind of leadership and the trust that he had from the political leadership and from the community was such that he was able to pull that off.

 


[00:32:54.060] - Steve Morreale

You know, two times you said something that I think is extremely relevant and that is talk and help people understand and wrestle with management versus leadership. You cannot lead without taking risks. And you said that at the beginning, and you just said that about Clarence Kelly. But I always will say if you're going to take a risk, you should be smart enough to make sure that they calculated risks.

 


[00:33:13.510] - Darrel Stephens

Right? Well said.

 


[00:33:15.060] - Darrel Stephens

So we've been talking to Darrel Stephens at his home in South Carolina, and Darrel has had a long and story career in policing. He was a city manager for a while. He was executive director of the Police executive research for him the same job with Major City Chiefs, and he stays in the game. Thank you, Darrel for taking the time and know how busy you are. But I would give you the last few words to listeners about policing. Is there hope? Will we get back on track?

 


[00:33:43.470] - Darrel Stephens

Thank you, Steve, for my perspective. There is help, and I'm actually confident. If policing is nothing else than the people in policing, the incredible resilience that is there and they're capable of taking some blows and getting back up and moving in it. I would say if we ever hope to manage the situation that we're in today and to move forward, that we have to really focus on those relationships. I know I've said that before, but I think people in our community are open to us, not everybody.

 


[00:34:13.750] - Darrel Stephens

There's some of the activists that don't even want to talk to us, but don't worry about them. Focus on the people in your community. Be respectful, listen, learn from them. And I think it won't be very long before we're back into position where we enjoy the respect the police officers and people in policing deserve.

 


[00:34:31.450] - Steve Morreale

Thank you very much. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's it for this episode with Darrel Stephens, retired chief and executive and still in the game. This is Steve Morreale. You've been listening to the Cop Top podcast. Appreciate you listening gratified by the feedback I'm receiving from you. If you need to reach out, it's [email protected] Thanks very much. And I look forward to hearing from you and listen in on the next episode.

 


[00:34:56.620] - Steve Morreale

Hey, everybody, a few things before you leave first. Thanks for listening. I'm so gratified to see the downloads rising in the last few months, not only for from the US, but from across the globe. It's surprising and humbling to find students, colleagues, and practitioners listening. We have a growing number of listeners in Canada, Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and Columbia. We appreciate your time and energy and welcome feedback.

 


[00:35:19.560] - Outro

Thanks for listening to The CopDoc Podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager turned academic and scholar from Western State University. Please tune into The CopDoc Podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.