Every place he has ever worked, at least in a supervisory capacity (I don’t know what he was like before that) he first takes great care to observe the work performance and personal interactions of his shift and slowly forms a plan to improve the working conditions and morale of those for whom he is responsible. When he was asked by Command to return to 52 division to take over for Sgt. Ryan Russell, who was killed in the line of duty, he was, of course, honoured to have been asked, but torn because the plan for his team at the ETF (Emergency Task Force—SWAT—for my American friends) wasn’t fully implemented and he felt as though he was abandoning them. But, he was committed to supporting the shift at 52 Division after such a tragedy—a gift he, unfortunately, had already mastered and given to us at home.
As with most work places, some have more challenges than others and I’m always in awe of his insightfulness and ability to read what’s underlying in situations that aren’t obvious. He’s careful not to judge, but to see the big picture. He is a champion for the underdog and goes to bat for the weaker officers. He mentors them to be the best they can be, even when others have given up and jumped on the “negative” wagon. This isn’t to say that he won’t hold people accountable. That’s not the case at all, but when he does, he is kind and quite brilliant in the way he turns it into a training opportunity, never belittling or being disrespectful and never damaging the self-esteem of the other. He seems to know instinctively how to uplift others. All of these things he does with a quiet confidence that is so becoming of a supervisor any where, not just in policing.
This isn’t meant to be a “love-in” for James Hung, but because the date is coming up shortly he has asked my opinion and it has given us a chance to have some great conversations over the past few days.
The bottom line for James is that there is far too much negativity and not enough camaraderie. Many times, people are labeled or categorized, perhaps with good reason at first, but, without support, they can spend the rest of their careers trying to prove themselves. Once a label has been affixed, it isolates an individual so that he or she feels ostracized from the group. Very few people are courageous enough to look for the good and point it out to others in an attempt to improve the work environment for everyone. Without this, morale declines and negativity breeds contempt. This is not unique to policing of course, but add shift work and dangerous situations and it’s clear that policing has more than it’s share of negative influences—all the more reason why we shouldn’t do it to ourselves. In my opinion, this is where James excels.
These conversations have reaffirmed our conviction to remind each other if either of us is focusing on the bad in others. The easiest way we’ve found to do this is look for something in that person that we can appreciate—no matter how difficult it may be to find—and focus on that. I promise that it works. And once we change our focus, what begins to happen is, the negative behaviour improves and it becomes easier to see only the good. Perhaps, most importantly, when we do this, we feel better about ourselves.
I’m not sure what James will say—he is a man of very few words—but whatever it is, it will be with the highest intention to keep his platoon motivated, even after he leaves.