At the beginning of 2000 the Lausanne police noted a rise in resignations by newly appointed police officers and an increased number of public complaints about police behaviour (verbal abuse, inadequate use of force, etc).
Worried about how to support employees whilst maintaining a highquality public service, the Universities of Lausanne and Sherbrooke were approached to analyse the problem. Accordingly, an applied meta-ethics initiative was introduced with the aim of enabling police officers of any rank, and from all divisions (response, management, administration, etc.) to develop a process of reflection so that they can make the best possible decisions, even in an increasingly complex and risky environment.
A staff survey (2003/04) identified some key management failures including poor definition of errors committed by officers, a lack of model leadership, inequitable approaches to promotion and penalisation of officers. To address these shortcomings, new approaches were developed. In order to improve the corporate culture the initiative focused on limiting the code of silence (omertà) and questioning traditional modes of management and hierarchical leadership. This focus was innovative, courageous and unique in the Swiss police environment. The results were achieved through increased investment in institutions and human resources, by developing a completely new meta-ethics management framework and structure, and by creating delegates and committees for meta-ethics and deontology and new organisational principles and practices (Charter of Values, Code of Deontology and structural functioning regulations). This initiative is also distinguished by an extraordinary investment in applied meta-ethics training (three Masters and 35 university certificates were obtained by employees, and training courses catering for all levels of the force). A wide variety of partners was involved, ranging from politicians, universities and private citizens to the trade union, internal command, management and staff, all participating in developing a new and unique police character.
The initiative gained legitimacy, particularly after winning the Swiss Meta-ethics Prize in 2008. To date, the Vaud state police and 16 city police forces have expressed interest in the initiative. The Swiss Institute of Police appointed the project manager and Lausanne metaethics delegate to draft the meta-ethics textbook chapter in ‘Metaethics and Human Rights’ used to train new officers in French-speaking Switzerland. Public surveys conducted in 2000, 2003 and 2008 show an increasingly positive public perception of the police force and an internal staff survey in February 2009 gave very encouraging results, with about 90 % of employees declaring pride in the police force and the majority being satisfied by efforts to improve institutional functioning. Particularly popular was the attention given to diverse ‘hot topics’ raised in a previous internal survey (2003), such as trust, integration, autonomy and management of errors. The road ahead is long and strewn with pitfalls yet success requires determined perseverance.
|Award category:||leadership and change|
|Sector:||Justice, police, human rights and security|
|Type of activity:||business process re-engineering|
|Keywords:||Change of company culture, durable evolution and development, meta-ethics and deontology, collegial leadership and management, suitable combination of people and skills|
|Short English description:||In order to improve the corporate culture the initiative focused on limiting the code of silence (omertà) and questioning traditional modes of management and hierarchical leadership|
|Organisation:||Lausanne Municipal Police|
|Level of government:||local level|
|Size of organisation:||>100|
|Number of people involved:|
|EU membership:||other European country|