Delta P, A Philosophy of Ethics and Professionalism

William Kiphart II
April 16, 2012 — 1,880 views  
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Delta P©; A Philosophy of Ethics and Professionalism

By Sergeant William Boyd Kiphart II


The term “Delta P” is commonly known as an aviation term referencing a change (Delta) in atmospheric pressure (P).  This is a significant concept in aviation due to the fact that where there is a change in atmospheric pressure, all other factors and instruments are affected.  This is the one change during the course of a flight that affects all other factors and components of flight characteristics i.e flight instruments require recalibration, air speed, altitude and the like change.  So what does that have to do with our chosen profession, law enforcement and public service? 

In the Delta P philosophy, the “P” is not atmospheric pressure but our professional and personal Philosophy operating in the law enforcement lifestyle. My contention is that our commitment to law enforcement is not only a profession but a lifestyle choice.  This holds true if you are truly committed to the mission.  

The concept of change remains the same and at the foundation of the philosophy and teaching; if we change our philosophy on policing, everything else will change as well.  This not only includes how we act and perform our duties but how we are viewed by the public and even more importantly, how we are viewed by ourselves and each other.  In brief the Delta P philosophy can best be summarized as:



  • Commitment to consummate professionalism


  • Commitment to excellence in all endeavors


  • Commitment to Corp or Core Values


  • Honor  consisting of Integrity   Pride   Duty   Justice   Courage  Self Control   Politeness   Loyalty


  • The Warrior Lifestyle


  • Leadership by example


  • Absolute accountability; I am solely responsible for my own actions


  • As a lifestyle, acceptance of the responsibility to serve, protect and defend at all times


  • The personal commitment to training and tactics


  • Not over investing in what we can not control; know and understand what these things are and why you can not control them. 


This philosophy and associated lesson plan were written over the course of two summers with the assistance of my father; a police officer of nearly five decades.  During these conversations of two summers we discussed, analyzed and dissected our perception of the current state of law enforcement not only as a profession but as a lifestyle.  My perspective was combined with his of a retired Major and Inspector of Police.  Of significant contribution was his experience as aSt. Louispolice officer in the early 1960’s and my unique perspective of law enforcement through the eyes of an aviator and educator.

At the end of the day we determined that our perceived flaws in the lifestyle were not due to something new we were doing wrong, but rather something that we were doing right and stopped doing!  This again rings of one of my primary observations in the current state of the profession, the loss of institutional knowledge.

My dad spoke at length of one of his instructors from the time when he sat as a recruit in the very building in which I first typed a summary of Delta P.  So profound was this impression on him and his career that he remembered the instructors name; Sergeant Joseph Gallagher.  Then Sergeant and later Lieutenant Colonel Gallagher taught the Indoctrination in the History and Tradition of the St. Louis Police Department for theSt. LouisPoliceAcademy.  This was best described as a fire and brimstone style emotional presentation on the philosophy and duty of a St. Louis Police officer.  This duty and responsibility was based on a commitment to excellence and a responsibility and duty to every officer that had ever gone before us and the tradition and development of policing back through mans history.  One of the primary points of emphasis was our obligation to those first eight City night watchmen that walked the dusty streets ofSt. Louis in 1808.  This was the presentation the recruits received just after they were sworn in and issued their weapons and badges; at that time the first week of the academy. 

I mentioned to my father that we did not do such a presentation any longer and I do not think that we had in some time.  This presentation was an appeal to core values and as George Shinault was referenced in the Journal of the Board of Police Commissioners on December 14, 1929; the A,B,C,s of Police Work; or the teaching of a philosophy of core values; something that we were doing right and stopped doing

Now do not get me wrong, I have sat in and taught a plethora of ethics classes; they are a P.O.S.T. requirement.  I also know there are a fair amount of people who are going to take exception to this next statement but I do not believe you can “teach” someone to be ethical.  I will abdicate that ethics classes have a value, in that we may be able to prompt officers to consider their ethical foundations, but most of the ethics classes I have seen end up with a message that acting ethically keeps you from getting indicted.  That is not teaching someone to be ethical as much as a practical appeal to stay out of trouble or suffer consequences.  It is my belief that this change in how we addressed the matter of ethics and professionalism with officers, particularly the recruit, caused a catastrophic change in philosophy within law enforcement. 

The change was so significant at this particular time due to the generational change in officers as well as the fact that the economy was causing a rise in non-traditional recruits.  Those pushed out of their primary vocation as a result of the recession came to law enforcement due to the job security and spike in hiring in a post 9/11 world.

Delta P addresses this deficit.  It is intended to subvert the acceptance of a standard, for any law enforcement agency or individual of  mediocrity in mind, body, spirit and performance with a direct personal challenge.  It also creates a grass roots approach to change over the long term by creating a career buy in.  For the new recruits and tenured officers this is a philosophical and psychological career development program.

As I present it in the classes, this is a core responsibility; for us to take responsibility for each other and lead by example.  I challenge these officers who accept the responsibility to network with and support each other. 

In our agency I ask them to identify themselves by wearing their badge above the left breast pocket.  Many officers’ thoughtlessly wear their badge as it sits when placed through the stitched holes the manufacturer of the shirt provides.  This places the lower portion of the badge over a portion of the left breast pocket.  For those committed to the Delta P philosophy this is a lesser standard and they aspire to a higher standard of appearance, performance and duty.  They wear their badge at a higher standard always to be found above the pocket.  They will also typically be identified by their attention to their uniform and appearance and hopefully by the wearing of the garrison cap rather than the travesty of a baseball cap.  This not only allows them to recognize and seek out each other but serves as a reminder to their Delta P commitment each time they choose to place the badge where they want it on their chest and not simply where the holes already existed; leadership rather than following.

While this is just a visual representation, these officers are obvious if they work for or with you.  Their leadership, performance and diligence in fulfilling their duty and their personal behavior, based on core values and absolute accountability will be obvious.

The intent of the Delta P philosophy is to increase officer safety and improve the professionalism of law enforcement by helping the individual raise their personal and professional expectations of themselves.  The philosophy will also create a peer supported environment that fosters the personal growth of the Delta P officer and in turn the agency. 

The result of the Delta P philosophy is happier, healthier, better trained law enforcement professionals.  They will understand, perhaps for the first time, their place in the law enforcement lifestyle, their self worth and their relationship with the agency.  This translates to lives saved and a reduction in injuries, absence, and complaints.  This will also improve officer morale and increase public perception and support. 

This is not the usual force fed trickle down training theory but a theory from the street for the street with trickle up effect.  As the Delta P officer tenures and rises through the ranks, they will not only take their philosophy with them, but pass it on to peers and subordinates.  While this is a longer term goal for reform, it builds a more reliable foundation for change through the individual and in turn the agency.


William Kiphart II

Delta P Group

Bill began his law enforcement career in 1987 and now serves, by choice, as a line platoon sergeant in North St. Louis for the Metropolitan Police Department, and is the Department’s Coordinator for the Officer Safety Program. He continues his missi