Lieutenant Wil Zilka
Wyoming State Troopers
I read Tony Dungy’s book “Uncommon” where he quotes his college football coach who said;
“Success is uncommon and not to be enjoyed by the common man. I’m looking for uncommon people because we want to be successful, not average – Coach Cal Stoll.”
Coach Stoll went on to explain that a lot of people may want to be great football players, or teachers or doctors or peace officers, but they simply may not have been blessed with the raw, foundational tools to be great. Now, some may still become great by extra-ordinary effort while others who have great gifted talent, may under-perform to some level below greatness. The point is that if being great were easy and attainable for everyone, there would be no Hall of Fame. Why would you need one?
I have used this in my Division in the past with the tag line that we are “striving to be uncommon.” It is my view that law enforcement MUST be presented to the men and women who choose law enforcement to undertake it as a “calling.” This calling is similar to that of a servant-leader or of the noble warrior. The need for this (in my opinion) is because it removes the “presumed” or “relative” authority from the individual officer and places it outside of them, their agency or even the profession. They derive “true authority” from their State’s Constitution and the consent of the public. Getting that mindset in place first is essential before turning out very motivated, hard charging, type-A personalities in order to cut a wide swath of justice through their communities.
Establishing the servant leader mentality means that we use our authority with discernment and deference if at all possible. A hammer is a great and necessary tool, however just not appropriate to open a carton of eggs. A great example of the servant leader is the Bible story of the Centurion in Matthew Chapter Eight. The Centurion has a sick servant whom he loves and he tells Jesus about him. Jesus says “Let’s go!” and the Centurion stops Jesus and says he is essentially not worthy of the honor of having Jesus under his roof. However, that isn’t the important part. He tells Jesus that all He needed to do is just say the word from right there and his servant would be healed. The Centurion knew this because “For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Those first words from the Centurion tell me this guy gets it. I imagine his men looking at each other when he says “For I myself am a man under authority…”. I don’t know how far he would have to march before he could actually find his boss, but I doubt there was anyone within earshot who out ranked the Centurion. He knew his ultimate place and didn’t let that interfere with the relative rank of those in his presence or in his command. I would guess that he was a man that never had to demand respect from anyone. There are too many officers who hold their relative authority over members of the public they contact.
The same idea applies for the Noble Warrior. No soldier worth his salt goes to war for the purpose of going to war. He needs to have a cause, someone or something to fight for. If a soldier is in it for himself he will turn to looting and various crimes against anyone who may stand in his way, friend or foe.