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Catalysts for Change: Leaders vs. Managers in Law Enforcement Dynamics

As a leader in law enforcement, I believe a fundamental misconception about leadership within our ranks exists. It is commonly misconstrued as a function of title, position, or power – determined by the trappings of authority such as the grandeur of an office, the size of a parking spot, or the number of direct reports one commands.


Contrary to this prevailing notion, leadership transcends these external markers. True leadership is about questioning the established norms and reshaping the existing order to better our mission and community.

Everyone possesses the latent potential to be a leader, yet not everyone embraces that role. The reluctance often stems from the formidable influence of the status quo. Change is met with trepidation, as individuals fear the potential loss associated with stepping into uncharted territory – whether trying something new, speaking out, or risking failure. The fear of criticism looms large.


This fear, more often than not, leads many to settle into managerial roles rather than assuming leadership positions. Managers navigate within the confines of the status quo, while leaders actively challenge it. Leaders innovate and improve, unafraid of the inevitable criticism that accompanies change. If criticism has never been faced, it raises the question of whether one is managing instead of leading.


Leadership comes at a cost – criticism. Yet, the reward is in problem-solving and positive transformation. This does not diminish the value of managers; some exceptional managers excel within existing parameters. However, their excellence lies in optimizing outcomes within established conditions. On the other hand, leaders redefine those conditions and constraints, refusing to accept the status quo.


They reject the mindset of "This is the way we’ve always done it" or "It’s too hard. It’s too different." Fear is a formidable barrier, preventing many from assuming leadership roles and compelling them to remain within the familiar confines of the status quo.


During this upcoming election cycle, I urge you to reflect on what you and your family expect from your law enforcement. Do you want a manager who adheres to the familiar constraints of the past or a leader who actively poses questions, seeks constant improvement, takes a stand for what's right, and drives change to challenge the status quo? If you are exploring my webpage, I can assume you prefer the latter.


It's time for a change in Deschutes County. It's time for Kent Vander Kamp to be our next sheriff.

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