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The importance of institutional knowledge in public safety

We must start mentoring because we are throwing away too much institutional knowledge

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s tip is about a topic that’s near and dear to me: institutional knowledge.

So let me start off with this: where did your grandmother die? If you’re over 50, there’s a very high probability your grandmother died in your parent’s house. Your grandma, your grandpa, they were doing quite well on their own, they had an illness, they ended up in the hospital, got released from the hospital and the doctor told your mom or dad that they won’t be able to live on their own.

My grandmother spent her last years at our house in San Francisco and I learned so much from her. I learned so much about life, about America, and how fortunate I was to be born in this great country.

Where does Grandma die today? At a nursing home. We visit her on Saturday sometimes for an hour. All that knowledge leaves with her. What’s that got to do with American public safety? Everything.

I think I had the best sergeant in the history of the California highway patrol. The guy was a genius. He retired and he took everything with him. Everything he learned as a sergeant went right out the door with him. When is the next time your department has contact with that person who just knew everything? Funeral?

All that institutional knowledge is gone. We’ve got to figure out a way to share institutional knowledge. Individually, you know a lot. Collectively, the group watching or reading this together, you know everything. We have got to start sharing our knowledge with others.

One of my goals in life is to someday see every time a new school is built, a senior citizens’ center is built right in the middle of that school. Why? Because right now in this great country we’ve got silos of seniors dying from loneliness and silos of young women and men with a mom or dad that really doesn’t care that much about them. What happens when you put 80-year-old women with 17-year-old kids? You’re breaking down age/sex/race barriers – everything bad is disappearing, everything good is going to happen. If a young man or young woman knows that an older person really wants them to succeed, it can change the world.

Pass it on folks. In an earlier tip we talked about the importance of mentoring, that’s the micro-view. How about the big picture? Let’s start mentoring America because we are throwing away too much institutional knowledge.

And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol, Gordon Graham signing off.

Get more tips from Gordon here.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.