What do you do when your own officers don’t subscribe to the force’s motto “The Police are your friends”?

That was the dilemma facing Rotterdam District Chief Gaap Hollenbrand, so when the force embarked on a national reorganization he recognized an opportunity to shape his Rotterdam District force in to a more citizen-friendly law-enforcement body.

Rotterdam is the second largest city (by population) in the Netherlands. And it is not only home to over 584,000 citizens but, until recently, it was home to the largest and busiest shipping port. With 55% of its inhabitants classified as low-income earners, the city had problems typical of large urban areas, including a somewhat dispirited police force. But that was about to change.

Chief Hollenbrand wanted Synecticsworld to focus on ‘attitude training’ so that the members of his force would be kinder and more open to the people they served. With that in mind, Synecticsworld’s first step was to begin working with the Rotterdam District Police’s management team who had come to recognize that for too long they had been managing the concerns that fell within their individual cubicle but neglecting the problems of the community at large. After immersing the team in Synecticsworld success-driven tools and techniques, the managers turned their attention to the vital issues of safety, crime, better police-neighborhood communications, and effective community involvement.

Synecticsworld then rolled out a further series of workshops that included a culture change program for the group, now divided into eighteen smaller teams. As an additional task, each team was asked to focus on one of the many innovative ideas that had emerged from their initial session. Each team was instructed to create action plans, embrace critical decision-making, and allocate detailed budgets for implementing their individual tasks. To encourage cross-team interaction, and unlock the manager’s hidden wisdom, the teams partnered with each other to work on the internal mechanism of their specific tasks.

By the end of the two-year transformation, the Rotterdam District Police had not only made measurable progress toward regaining the trust of officers and citizens alike but the force was nominated for the prestigious Dutch Quality Prize, the first time a police department had ever been picked to receive the award.

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