The responsibility that those who work in the public safety sector carry with them on a regular basis is not to be underestimated. Public welfare is such an important aspect to every society, and those who work to uphold it have no easy task. It is true that not everyone is cut out for a career in public service, but if you feel that you have a path in this field, there are several key qualities that you can look to develop in yourself to better equip you for the tasks ahead.
It is true that police officers, judges, and other public safety professionals have to be predisposed to a career in service to their communities. It would be a fruitless endeavor to attempt a career in the public safety sector without first having the desire to work for a better community. Nonetheless, there are certain qualities that each individual who sees themselves working in public safety must seek to possess and develop in order to make a successful go at a career in public service.
The ability to be a good leader should be priority number one for all public safety officials. Take, for instance, the importance of this quality in a police officer. The daily tasks of a police officer, while demanding their fair share of teamwork and the necessity of being able to follow orders respectfully, no doubt demand that an officer is able to lead.
Leadership in such a role comes into play during interactions with the community, particularly those interactions wherein an officer must step up and take control of a situation. Furthermore, if an officer wishes to advance in his or her career in law enforcement, they need to be able to lead a squad of officers to best serve the community. Inspiring others, having confidence in their abilities, and being capable of making decisions are all qualities of a leader that those in public safety must possess.
It is true that some aspects of leadership might not come naturally to you. However, if you wish to pursue a career in law enforcement or public safety, it is necessary for you to take steps to develop leadership. There are plenty of online education options, such as those offered by Wilfrid Laurier University, that are designed with the very purpose of helping students to learn the skills associated with leadership.
Public safety is a field that isn’t without its fair share of controversy. Many instances of public safety issues concern people within the community who have either harmed or threatened to harm the wellbeing of others within the community. Such situations can get emotional and confusing. They therefore require the officials dealing with such instances to operate with complete and total honesty.
For instance, if a public safety professional has a reputation for not conducting his or her dealings with honesty, then it can be difficult to maintain trust in the overall system. A lack of trust in the system can have dire consequences within the community. For this reason, all those involved in public safety are held to a higher standard when it comes to honesty. If you are not prepared to conduct yourself by that standard, which can be a grueling task at times, then perhaps a career in public safety isn’t the right path for you.
A quality that goes hand-in-hand with honesty is that of integrity. While often used synonymously, integrity has more to do with a standard for actions as opposed to words. Public safety officials must take care to keep all actions they perform, both on and off duty, with complete integrity.
It is no secret that where there are rules, there will always be those who seek to break or circumvent the rules. As the enforcers of the rules of society, law enforcement professionals of all kinds are going to be subject to dealing with those who look to operate outside of the law.
Occasionally, such individuals might attempt to employ tactics like bribery or collusion in order to meet their end. All those who work in public safety have to be completely resilient to such things by conducting themselves with complete integrity in all dealings. Once again, this is something that is easier said then done, as most people wish to see themselves in a positive light in this regard. Be that as it may, the difficulty of possessing this quality in its entirety is not to be underestimated.
Because careers in public safety are geared towards public service, empathy is a key quality as well. Public safety is an emotional vocation, both on the side of the officer and on that of the individuals in the community in which that officer operates. While it might be a natural reaction in emotionally stressful situations to go on the defensive, it is far better if those who hold the power in such situations seek to view things from the perspective of the other side.
Not only does the ability to be empathetic help with individual situations, but it also goes a long way in helping improve the public’s perception of law enforcement officials. It is no secret that this opinion can drastically vary — a fact that can inhibit an officer from being able to properly do their job.
The better the law enforcement officials are able to interact with their communities, the better relations between the community and those who seek to maintain its order will be. Empathy certainly plays a central role in meeting this end.
The ability to communicate efficiently and effectively with all those with whom you interact is another top quality that every public safety official needs to possess. No matter where you fall within the ranks of a public safety department, communicating with your colleagues and peers properly is crucial.
Some might argue that the ability to communicate with the public in a productive way is even more important for those who work in law enforcement. So much about an officer’s ability to take control of a situation hinges on his or her ability to communicate with those around them. Confusion between law enforcement and people within the community can have disastrous consequences.
Because communication centers around unspoken as well as spoken cues, it isn’t enough to simply be able to speak with authority and clarity. Rather, those in law enforcement need to consistently take the proverbial “look in the mirror” approach to ensure that the manner in which they are holding themselves and communicating with non-verbal cues is effective and constructive as well.
Organization is something that should be evident in public safety starting with each individual professional, going all the way up to the system as a whole. Because of the legal nature surrounding public safety, there is a constant development of information and procedures that occurs. Moreover, when it comes to public safety, there is a correct procedure for pretty much everything. If the system is unorganized, then such developments might fall by the wayside or simply be mismanaged.
From a more broad perspective, organization is one of those skills that each individual should seek to possess no matter what line of work they are in. Someone who is unorganized won’t find themselves enjoying much success from a professional standpoint. Keeping track of professional interactions that occur on the job as well as the correct protocol that is required for certain situations is no easy task. Nonetheless, doing so is vital for each and every public safety official.
If you don’t see yourself as a particularly organized person, there are many things you can do in order to correct this. Developing good time management, learning to keep physical copies of all your work instead of relying upon yourself to remember everything that you need to at a moment’s notice, and limiting distractions in your professional life can all help you on your way to being a more organized and productive individual.
Self-awareness is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, when it comes to all other qualities of a successful public safety professional. It is one thing to set out with the intention of acquiring and developing all other qualities, but it is another thing entirely to recognize those areas in which you fall short. It can be tempting to make assumptions about yourself and be convinced that you are already equipped for a career in public safety. Self-awareness prevents those who have it from making the mistake of assuming that they are done learning and growing in their career.
It is true that self-awareness in its truest form requires a great degree of humility. Only those who are truly humble are able to recognize their shortcomings and to then work to correct them. Self-awareness is a daily state of self evaluation where you set aside your pride in an effort to improve yourself professionally.