Building a Highly-Reliable Community to Serve and Protect – Washington DC Metro Police Department

I recently enjoyed a long visit with the Washington DC Metro Police Department (MPD) to meet with Chief Cathy Lanier. Although our goal was to support another client initiative, I couldn’t help but begin to understand the nature of the magic by which she has been successful in bringing about unprecedented change in MPD.  How did she build her community into this high-performing success!? (With a special thanks to the officers at MPD who arranged the visit and shared their time with us!)

Her official bio relays some of the amazing accomplishments achieved under her watch,

Chief Cathy Lanier of Washington DC Metro Police Department

These valuable partnerships have played a key role in the significant decrease in the number of homicides in District of Columbia as well as the outstanding homicide closure rate during Lanier’s tenure as Chief of Police. At the close of 2011, there was an 18 percent decrease in the number of homicides from the previous year. MPD’s homicide case closure rate for 2011 was 95%, compared to a 57% national average.“

 Chief Lanier told us it has taken nearly five years to accomplish this change, and although the use of technology is very important, the tools only serve to enable the most important factor – the people.  In this she refers to her community  – her fellow officers, stakeholder agencies and the people who live and work in DC.  She is passionate about cultivating and ensuring trusted relationships within her community.

She described the incredible complexity of keeping the community operating smoothly and emphasized the role of engaged leadership.  Her carrot-and-stick approach ensures that her immediate leadership team is “on board” with the strategy or they are welcome to pursue other opportunities.  She rewards her community through increased information sharing, new career opportunities, and partnering efforts.  There is no officer more passionate and committed to her community.

Not shy to open up her shop, she takes care to keep operations open and transparent with her colleagues in other departments and agencies so, together, they can accomplish more…..effortlessly realizing they are all on the same team. Information is not a source of power – collaboration is!

Her style and approach are instructive for all leaders needing to build an active and engaged community that must perform reliably and with the highest of integrity to ensure public trust.  She backs it all up with solid performance measures not the least of which is the lowest homicide rate in DC in over 50 years.

I was impressed by her gritty style and grace under pressure. I can see why DC renewed her contract and will be keeping her for another five years. Go Chief Lanier!

Engaged leadership, solid strategy, open and transparent communications, all enabled by current technology and social media – this is the model for building a high-performing, highly-reliable community that is able to perform smartly, efficiently and effectively whenever needed.