There is nothing like being immersed in a culture and spending time with it’s people to help you understand and appreciate it. This week my eyes were opened along with my understanding for the culture of the police. I had no idea.
The 10 police officers and two civilian police staff I met were a select group. They are the cream of the crop, I suspect, when it comes to people who care and take an interest in the lives and work of their coworkers. These are men and women who are not only passionate about their job but also about making their workplace one which is healthy and supportive. From what I learned this week they have their work cut out for them.
What they describe is a culture which is changing but it is not without it’s challenges. The macho, bully environment associated with police is not just the one displayed on the street but also becomes a stumbling block for those who live within the force and may show any form of weakness.
While officers like those we met are trying to make a difference they face huge obstacles in their effort to make the force a kinder more caring community. They have to be confident of their stand and prepared to defend it as they move forward. Those lucky enough to have leadership which supports their effort are well on the way but others who do not have that support and live in an atmosphere where even basics are not supported are less likely to thrive with their effort to infuse peer support into their culture.
I wish them well as they move forward with the concept of peer support in an environment which tends toward fear and isolation for those who are struggling. The road will long and I will wait with interest to see how it begins to unfold for them.