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Monday, July 23, 2012

Level III Professionals

On a recent Friday night, my wife and I attended a funeral for an 18-year-old man who had taken his own life. The first family member to see me as we walked into the funeral home immediately said, “I’ll tell you, we have a wonderful sheriff’s office.” I was caught off-guard and was not sure where the conversation was going.
Statues outside the Robbinsdale police caption read:
We honor those who have gone before us and
challenge those who will come after us to
continue the tradition of excellence.

She went on to say how caring, careful, and understanding the responding deputies were with the family. The deputies kept the family informed as they investigated and also provided resources to them. She starting crying and said, “They even cleaned up the mess, they were wonderful.” Similar comments were repeated by the other family members we met in the receiving line. Those deputies were “Level III” professionals.

We have a fire department that has started a program when they respond to “lift assist” calls to help one of their residents back into bed or a chair after they have fallen. In addition to addressing the immediate issues, they have a team of firefighters follow up with the residents to see if they can address the problem and not just the symptom.  That is “Level III” performance.

It is the letter to the editor in the local newspaper from the carpet store owner who lost it all in the fire and continually thanks the fire department—not only for their fine work but because they genuinely cared about his business, his employees, and their families. And it is the police officers who didn’t give up on a prolonged investigation and maintained contact with the victims so they did not feel abandoned or in the dark—and got the conviction. It is the “Level III” performer who remembers that they are dealing with people in one of the worse moments in their lives.

Statues outside the Columbia Heights public safety building.

In his book, Going Pro, Tony Kern writes of the importance of continuous improvement, ethics, and setting the bar high for a new level of professionalism. Many of Kern’s themes have been echoed by our national public safety figures: Alan Brunacini, Gordon Graham, Billy Goldfeder, and Randy Means have been long been champions of this level of personal and departmental professionalism. It is truly doing the right thing and doing it the right way.

Being qualified, certified, and hired is the entry Level I Professional. The book uses numerous examples as it leads the reader up the scale through Level II to Level III performance. The book reads as if it was written for the public safety community. In chapter 3, entitled “Aren’t we all professionals?,” Kern writes:

By practicing precision and seeking perfection, we are also improving our readiness for the day when the world turns mean and we need to be near perfect just to survive.

The book was given to me by a friend. I highly recommend the book and have purchased two additional copies that I have given away as gifts.

Up next time… “More fire and police workshops coming this fall

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.

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