In a recent article in the Cincinnati Enquirer it was reported that a directive had been relayed to all Cincinnati Police Department employees by the Police Chief’s adjutant, Lt. Emmett Gladden. The directive ordered all personnel to begin addressing Jeffrey Blackwell as either “Chief” or “Sir” when utilizing electronic messaging. The directive further requires that personnel close these messages with the phrase “Respectfully, or Respectfully Submitted”. Why should this matter to you, you may ask yourself? This is your lucky day for I am here to tell you.
This type of directive is indicative of a dysfunctional command structure. A dysfunctional command structure means your police department is not being properly led with the efficiency you have a right to expect. The fact that the Chief felt compelled to have this directive issued by his adjutant (and not himself) speaks volumes. The fact that this message was sent in the first place says even more. A leader either commands respect or demands respect. If a leader by his command presence automatically instills in his subordinates a feeling of confidence and a desire to follow then that person is a leader who commands respect. On the other hand, if a person feels compelled to instruct his subordinates that they must follow him because he is in charge, then he is demanding respect and is not a leader at all. This is the case with Blackwell, as the below email from Lt. Gladden indicates:
“Good afternoon all, Chief Blackwell would like for me to remind you all to be mindful of your professional decorum as it pertain(sic) to email and/or any other form of electronic message communications. Regardless of rank, all personnel should begin their correspondence to the Chief with “Sir” or “Chief”. All correspondences should end with “Respectfully” or “Respectfully Submitted”. As noted by Chief Blackwell, the casualness in our day to day business is becoming a bit much. Thank you for your immediate attention in this matter.
Lt. Emmett L. Gladden, Jr.
Cincinnati Police Chief’s Adjutant”
In addition, Blackwell felt compelled to defend this by stating that it was taken “out of context” and that in fact the issue was military courtesy, such as saluting a supervisor. The veracity of this statement is suspect because it is quite obvious that an email directing staff to utilize a particular greeting and closing in electronic messages has absolutely nothing to do with military courtesies such as saluting and calling attention when a Captain enters the room. Sorry Jeff, I have to call BS on this one. The full text of Blackwell’s follow-up email is presented below:
“It has come to my attention that the email forwarded by Adjutant Lt. Gladden is being taken out of context as it relates to military courtesy and discipline. First and foremost is the necessity for our personnel to adhere to the policies and procedures as prescribed in our longstanding rules. Military courtesy and discipline is covered by Procedure 18.125 and is essential to the character, efficiency, and effectiveness of our organization. The message was simply a reminder for personnel to follow that decorum. “Attention to detail” is a very important core value that I follow as your Chief. Please continue with the dedicated commitment to service and professionalism that has separated and elevated this department as the finest in the Nation!”
One point of clarification, I believe the email was originated by Lt. Gladden, not forwarded. And while on the subject of email, I have always been under the impression that email is a less formal means of communication, as well as other types of messaging such as texting and using Twitter. Based on the above correspondence, one would need to use the formal salutation and closing, even when sending a text message. That kind of defeats the point of using the media.
Blackwell also referenced the police department’s procedure dealing with military courtesy. This probably can be confusing for many as Blackwell carries no military rank in the police department. All police chiefs up to an including Tom Streicher were designated as Colonel and wore the eagle insignia on their collars. Subsequent to Streicher, the police chief has only been designated as “chief” or Chief of Police”, which has no associated military rank. Additionally, since Blackwell has assumed “command”, the Chief’s uniform has been drastically altered, specifically with a lot of gold stripes added to the lower sleeves of the uniform. It looks more like an Admirals uniform. I don’t care how much bling you had to the uniform, it is not going to increase command presence.
I, for one, think that Blackwell should have more pressing concerns on his mind than how the salutations and closings are utilized in electronic messaging. And if he thinks ordering the troops to respect him is going to accomplish the desired results I think he needs to go back to command school. But, as always, I leave it up to you. You decide.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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