Webinar presenters Dr. Cara Rabe Hemp and Asst. Chief Sheryl Victorian answered a number of your questions after their presentation, “Success Factors for Your Career.” Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: A number of people have asked if you could share what the acronym TREEAT stands for again?
Sheryl Victorian: The acronym TREEAT is an acronym of the concepts we believe are used to build trust, right? So, the first is Transparency. We have to be transparent, we have to be honest, we have to be vulnerable. The R is Respect. So, we have to have mutual respect with others, no matter who we’re trying to communicate or connect with. The next E, is build an Emotional capital. And building emotional capital means that we’re making deposits in someone’s life. We’re being genuine, we’re connecting with them. And the second E is Engage, engagement. Making sure that we’re engaged with others participating in events outside of work or events involved in community and community building, and relationship building. And then that last, the A is for Accountability. And the idea is that transparency, respect, building emotional capital, being engaged, and holding ourselves and our teams accountable for our actions will build trust. And, like I said, I think that works both ways. It works with relational policing and trying to connect with our communities. And it also works for leaders trying to connect with their teams. So, T, R, E, E, A, T, Transparency, Respect, Emotional capital, Engagement, and Accountability, builds Trust.
Audience Question: How do we evaluate the effectiveness of training?
Dr. Cara Rabe-Hemp: Any good training program is going to have an assessment piece that will be built in, not only to measure the outcomes of that training, but also the process. And the process of training really relies on many of the factors that Sheryl was just talking about in that acronym, as far as whether or not people can engage, whether they have access to that, what their experience is. So, the process is just as important as the outcomes of the actual training, when we’re talking about what’s important to look for and assessing a training system. Sheryl, do you want to add anything about how to assess training or how to look at the measurement of that?
Sheryl Victorian: So, from a practical standpoint, I would say, after what you learn, are you able to apply it when you get back to your job? Are we seeing a difference in the behaviors of those that were in the classes with us related to the training? Were we able to walk away with something that we can use on a day-to-day basis, and it has it made our contacts and our jobs easier because it’s something that we learned in that class? I hope that makes sense.
Audience Question: Sheryl, can you further describe what relational policing is?
Sheryl Victorian: Sure, okay, so relational policing. Again, it’s based on the tenets that we talked about being transparent, respectful, engaged, building emotional capital, and holding officers accountable. But I think as law enforcement officers are in the criminal justice professionals, especially in today’s current environment, we have to be proactive in developing relationships and healing the harms in our communities. So, we have to be transparent in everything that we do with information. If we can share information, we need to share. If we can’t share information, we need to tell people why we can’t share that information. We need to be respectful. Now, I know that many of you, or all of you probably saw some of the protests that were happening across the country. It is up to us, there are a lot of things that we can and cannot do. People have a right to protest, and police were getting beat up pretty bad out there, right? But we still have to maintain a level of respect and professionalism when dealing with people who do not trust us or who have had historical traumas that affect their perceptions of policing. We cannot let our emotions get out of hand and, you know, behave in a way that will further precipitate the stereotype that they may have a policing. And also, we have to, again, build that emotional capital. We have to get out there and have those tough conversations with our communities and talk about how we can build trust. We can’t come up with all the ideas on how we can make the relationships better, we’re going to have to get with community leaders, and come together and coordinate and work cooperatively to determine what a good relationship is going to look like. What is trust-building going to look like. We also need to be engaged. There are a lot of community events that we have in Houston. For example, pre-COVID, and we can’t wait to get back to those different activities. Who says we can’t do a back to school with drive this year? A couple of our stations are having drive-by back to school events. We received donations from some of our stakeholders and local businesses. Will have Mounted patrol, canine, and SWAT displays. Typically, you know, the community would be able to get out and interact with the different divisions and the different cool units on a police department. But this year, because of COVID, we’re going to still make sure that we’re doing our part to make sure that our students in our areas that we serve are successful. So, that’s part of that engagement. Also being involved in our citizens police academy, Positive interaction programs and meetings. And then accountability. When we mess up, we ought to fess up. We can’t try to hide it. We have to make sure that we’re creating a culture as leaders in an environment of accountability where we’re holding people responsible for their actions. And I think all of it, of course, again, this TREEAT is key to building that trust. And that’s the foundation. Those are the principles of relational policing.
Host: That is fantastic. I love that and hopefully, we can have you and Cara back and it’s talking about a little bit more about that and maybe go into more depth and what your experiences are. But I don’t want to put you on the spot.
Audience Question: Can you talk about the definition of professional development again? What does that, what is the definition?
Sheryl Victorian: So, the definition of, and I’m going to tell you, this didn’t come out of a textbook, this is Sheryl’s personal experience. But I’ll give you the definition that I shared when we first started in one second. All right. So professional development can be defined as enhancing your knowledge and skills in a position or profession, through education, training, frequent updates on changes in the industry, reading and research those publications that we talked about, and obtaining knowledge from people that are in the profession with more tenure, those veterans are those with rank. So that was my definition of professional development. I’m sure there are others. Cara, do you have anything you want to add?
Dr. Cara Rabe-Hemp: I think that that is a really inclusive definition of professional development, and well said, Sheryl.
Audience Question: Payment for continuing education can be a real burner for some people, especially if you don’t receive any kind of educational financial benefits. Do you have any suggestions about how to overcome that challenge?
Dr. Cara Rabe-Hemp: I think that that’s a great point, and I know that in the presentation we did talk about scholarships as it relates to higher education and also about employee assistance programs in the police department. So, those are things to consider looking into. But the other aspect that I will mention is that there are actually quite a few free resources that are available. So, if you’re interested, specifically, in courses, classes and conferences, many of those that were on that slide related to, for instance, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Magazine, or the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, and the Office of Justice Programs governmental websites, all of those resources are free and available to the public to take a look at. And so those might be a place to start if you are not able to take advantage of some of the more expensive resources. Sheryl, do you have anything to follow up?
Sheryl Victorian: I think that was a great answer, and you’d be surprised if you would go and research, read some of these magazines from IACP and other organizations. Sometimes they have scholarship programs, where you can participate in. I think they have 40 under 40 and somebody nominates you to participate in the IACP Conference. And I think that that’s a phenomenal experience for an officer or sergeant to participate in the IACP conferences. I’m hoping that we’re still going to have it this year in October. You know, with COVID we’re not sure, but there are opportunities for you to be nominated and receive scholarships or awards or recognition to attend and participate in some of these trainings and conferences. And also, I’m not sure if you have a union or an association, see if they will sponsor you to attend any of the trainings and check out the local and regional agencies and see what opportunities they may have on the table.
Dr. Cara Rabe-Hemp: I’m a member of the Division on Women and Crime in the American Society of Criminology and we have a scholarship so that, those who are practicing in the field have the opportunity to experience the American Society of Criminology meetings and the research that’s shared there. So, I imagine some of the other divisions, as well, including the Division of Policing might also have those resources. So just kind of keep an eye out for those opportunities. I think it’s another way of trying to get to a meeting or access to research and professional development.
Audience Question: Can you talk a little bit about any advice you would give for someone who started their career in law enforcement, currently later, late in life?
Sheryl Victorian: When you begin law enforcement later in life, you’ve had more experiences and you’re a little more mature than our average probationary that comes in starting fresh from Police Academy, like I did as a rookie police officer. And I’ve had a couple of partners who came to the department at 30, 35 years old. One of whom was a nurse before she became a police officer, and she was able to offer so much value when responding to calls for service on the street, and in some of the other contacts that we made on the street. So, I would take any experience that you had prior to becoming a police officer and figure out how you can filter that into the job that you’re doing now. Because I know that there’s a way everything that you’ve done prior to this moment will have value in your role as a police officer. It doesn’t mean you’re behind in any kind of way. You may retire a little later, but it does not mean that there’s no opportunity for growth, no opportunity for promotion. I haven’t seen anyone in my
agency who came on at a later point in life who has not earned the same amount of respect or more than someone who came on at a younger age. But use that maturity and your life experiences to your advantage as a police officer who came in older. That would be my advice.
Dr. Cara Rabe-Hemp: Yes, kudos to you.
Audience Question: How could you network when you lack the ability to make connections due to your own social issues?
Dr. Cara Rabe-Hemp: I would say practice. So, I will share that one of the things that is routinely challenging is being aware of your body language in communication. And so, even if as basic as it sounds, practicing in the mirror or finding a partner or friend someone that you can talk to, to practice with, will help with that first step. And so, if you practice, you and your mirror first, and then you move on to you and your partner, or a friend or you know someone that you can trust second. It’s a skill set that takes a lot of practice over time, so just get started.
Sheryl Victorian: That’s a great question, because, believe it or not, I am an introvert. And, I’m the type, as I mentioned in the presentation, that if I could just hang around with people that I know, I would hang around people that I know. But I realized that there’s so much value in stepping out and having the courage to talk to other people. And, you know what, there’s still a fear of rejection, it may not be dating, but it’s still a fear of rejection once you’re, you know, trying to open up to somebody and get to know somebody. You know, you can start off by sending an e-mail, why don’t you send a note, if you have the person’s information, send a card, “Hey, Sheryl Victorian, I loved your speech or loved listening to you present. Is there any way that we can talk outside of work? Have a zoom meeting”, ask some questions. But you just have to step outside of your comfort zone. It is not a very comfortable thing for me to do as an introvert. I’m an extrovert at work. A lot of people don’t know that. I think there’s a term for being both, but you just have to take those chances. I love what Cara said about standing in a mirror and having a script, write your script, when you want to introduce yourself to somebody and have about 3 or 4 questions ready to go that to start those conversations. You know, hello, my name is Leslie. What is your name? You know, maybe you were just in the same training class, ask about the training class. Ask them what their experiences are in law enforcement or criminal justice or whatever the topic may be, but it takes some practice. It’s a step outside of your comfort zone.
Host: Cara, Sheryl I loved your advice? Yeah, I’ve got to tell you what, I’m going to be taking as a fellow introvert. I’ll be taking so much of your advice and guidance to heart, that’s for sure. We’re just about out of time. But before we close out, I do want to give you both a final opportunity for any closing comments you’d like to share.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of “Success Factors for Your Career.”