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The Daily Tar Heel

Police Training Program\Addresses Generation Gap

Police Training Program\Addresses Generation Gap

Officers from UNC, Duke University, N.C. State University and other surrounding communities attended the seminar led by master police officer Robert Kipper of Newport News, Va.

Kipper discussed how older officers relate to Generation X, which makes up about 25 percent of the adult population in the United States and includes people born between1960 and 1980.

The majority of the officers said they wanted to learn how to motivate and communicate effectively with younger workers for retention purposes.

"I'm interested in not only recruiting quality candidates, but in being able to retain them for a long period of time," said Jeff McCracken, deputy director of UNC's campus police.

Kipper said the largest part of misunderstanding in the workplace stems from cultural differences among generations. The differences, Kipper said, result from changes in commerce, trade and popular culture.

But Kipper was quick to acknowledge that there are also similarities found in the various age groups. "There are connections between generations," he said. "We just have to get over the stereotypes."

Kipper used the session to challenge officers to re-examine conventional modes of communication between veteran employees and fresh recruits. "There is not a question that you're going to have to hire people from Generation X," he said. "I want to make you look at the traditional modes and rethink them."

Kipper warned the officers about a "recruiting war" that is sweeping the nation.

He said that because every employer wants the best and the brightest staff, it is going to become more difficult to attract and keep skilled employees.

To combat this problem, Kipper said employers should include their staff in decision-making processes on a regular basis.

"If you treat them fairly and focus on making them an active part of your organization, then they are probably not going to leave you," he said.

Kipper also encouraged the officers to maintain an open mind when dealing with younger workers. He noted that sometimes it is hard for younger generations to identify with the procedures of elders, and vice versa.

"Everything that has been set in stone is not easily understood by everyone," he said. "There's nothing wrong with the old school, but you have to realize that these employees haven't had the chance to go through the old school. They only have experiences from their lifetime."

Giving rewards and acknowledgement of hard work are incentives that Kipper readily supports. He said employees of Generation X thrive on the possibility of advancement.

"Traditionally in law enforcement, we've lived by the standard that excellence is not rewarded, but expected," he said. "We need to change that philosophy. We need to let people know that if they go beyond the daily norm, then their efforts will be rewarded."

UNC Director of Public Safety Derek Poarch said he planned on meeting with the other campus officers who attended the meeting to hear their reactions and brainstorm ideas for areas that might need improvement.

"I hope this session will say to the University community that we are continuing to look at a number of different things to improve our department," he said. "We are constantly exploring new ideas and approaches."

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