My son, soon to be entering University, has an interest in becoming a police officer, a noble pursuit that many of us probably contemplated early in our career path. I have several friends that are police officers, so I thought it would be a good idea for us to have lunch with one and let him give my son a better understanding of law enforcement as a career choice.
During our lunch, I was very impressed with my friend’s initial explanation of the “real world” perspective on policing, but some of the stories he shared gave me great pause when he began telling some stories of what really happens out there. Now, this blog is not a slight against law enforcement or my friend as I have a great deal of respect for both. However, the stories did make me think about the higher standard to which we hold those charged with protecting us and preserving order.
My son had similar thoughts. During our ride home from lunch my son asked me questions about some of the things he just heard. What struck me the most was when my son said, “I just thought that holding yourself to a higher standard is one of the reasons to become a police officer.”
My son is now seriously contemplating a different career choice as he now understands that reality may be different than perception. This experience caused me to think about one’s integrity and how it impacts career choice and professional conduct in one’s chosen profession.
The expectation of integrity can be said for any profession, however don’t we have higher expectations of certain professions; Doctors, Clergy, or Firefighters for example. It isn’t just law enforcement. This experience and discussion made me think about whether loss prevention personnel should be held to a higher standard of conduct within their company.
Thinking about my experiences over the last couple of decades while working in the loss prevention profession I was reminded of “real world” stories that did not necessarily put the loss prevention industry in the best light. Let’s be clear, my stories and those of my friend were not about breaking the law or violating policy. What I am talking about is conduct or behavior that from time to time wasn’t as good as it should have been. Remember, there are others looking at us, regardless of where you sit in the LP spectrum, as the gate keepers of what is right for the organization. All policies and procedures flow through and are enforced by loss prevention. Loss prevention personnel must exemplify the standards they are to enforce; to do otherwise undermines our effectiveness and minimizes our value. We must operate with the utmost integrity.
Practically speaking, what is integrity? I can easily repeat a standard dictionary definition of the word, however to me, the meaning of integrity is, “doing the right thing even when no one is looking.” Integrity is a funny thing; like trust, once it is lost it can be very difficult to get back. Integrity in the loss prevention profession is critical if we are to be effective in our mission. Unfortunately, like any other profession, the loss prevention community has had its fair share of news stories, terminations and shortcomings. Fortunately, those are the exceptions, not the rule of our profession.
Being entrusted as the keeper of your company’s “rule book” comes with a lot of responsibility; you must have the necessary integrity to uphold this responsibility. We can still have fun but always remember that our actions are being observed, and we must set the standard for integrity within the company. After all, our function allows the CEOs and owners to sleep at night knowing all is secure. If we always take the high road we too will be able to sleep at night knowing we did the right thing.
Written by Michael Hofstetter, CFI
National Client Services Manager