Change Is at Your Doorstep: How Will You Respond?


Chief Neil Gang

My good friend Paul Butler recently spoke about the storm that the law enforcement profession is experiencing and how, if you are a leader who is hunkered down in a foxhole waiting for the storm to pass, you will quickly find yourself lost when you emerge because the landscape will have drastically changed.

Often, a lull in chaos simply indicates the eye of the storm is upon you. Waiting to react until the dust settles or a clear path emerges, will leave you with no voice in the outcome and powerless to change the road forward.

The eye of a hurricane is an opportunity: a chance to shore-up your resources and prepare what’s still coming. Change is an unavoidable part of life. The world is changing rapidly, and law enforcement must evolve—quickly and strategically—to acquire new skills and develop the tools to meet these challenges.

Engage the Moment

Unless you take the reins, as part of this transformation, you will find yourself no longer effective. This is the time for leaders stand up, speak up and face the storm head-on. We must be resilient and embrace change, choosing to be a part of the solution that shepherds this profession into the future.

If we want or expect change externally, then we must initiate the process with honest, introspective reflection. For too long, our profession has been siloed from growth while, other organizations flourish around us. Just look at how successful institutions and organizations embrace innovative skills, methods of training and leadership mentalities. There’s a lot law enforcement, and public safety more broadly, can learn from the success of others.

We have been provided a singular opportunity to explore modern, creative business practices and develop more progressive approaches that rapidly incorporate the skills, qualities and dynamic culture we wish to see in our profession. I truly believe this is a time of great opportunity for engaged and innovative law enforcement leadership.

Working with culturally competent partners will help us develop Strategic Innovation Plans for cultural evolution, customized for modern law enforcement challenges, to create the intentional change we wish to establish.

  • Leverage emerging technology
  • Embrace evidence-based policing
  • Incorporate advanced people skills training
  • Employ social-emotional intelligence in our hiring and promotional processes
  • Develop cohesive culture centered on officer wellness
  • Establish a rapid prototyping methodology to analyze and assess new programs

Embrace Your Role

As Jim Collins mentions in Good to Great, we must start with the “who.” Using social intelligence to avoid the traditional pitfall of the “conscious kind” in our hiring and promotional processes will assist us to recognize employees’ strengths and weaknesses and aid us in strategic talent placement throughout our organizations. The result: More effective leadership teams and a more cohesive, resilient culture.

Like it or not, change is here. How you respond will define you as a leader and will shape the future of our profession and the resilience of our communities.

About Neil Gang

Police Chief Neil H. Gang began his career with West Windsor, N.J. Police Department in 1988. After several stops along the way to include Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Surprise, Ariz., Neil was selected to become the police chief for the Pinole Police Department in 2014. With more than 30 years experience at all levels of a full service agency, Gang’s policing strategy is progressive and innovative. His work focuses on innovation and community engagement, and in 2019 his agency was first in the nation to create a Video Reporting Program that allows citizens to use different platforms to report crimes remotely and still receive officer engagement. Neil also was the first in the nation to partner with ThinBlueOnline for their online de-escalation technology and training software.

Neil is a graduate of Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command, where he was both the president of the class and the recipient of the Franklin M. Kremel Award for excellence in the field of leadership. Neil has a Bachelor’s of Applied Science Degree in Administrative Justice from Wayland Baptist University and is a graduate of the California POST Management School. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Executive Research Forum, International Hostage Negotiators Association, California Police Chiefs Association and the National Association of Police. Neil was also a past Northern California representative on the California Peace Officer Memorial Foundation Board and the Chairman of the West County Police Chief’s Association.