Ep. 12: Michele Freeman on How to Lead During a Crisis

In this episode, David sits down with Michele Freeman, former Chief of the Department of Public Safety for the City of Las Vegas, to discuss how to lead during a crisis.

Michele’s Bio:
Michele Freeman began her law enforcement career in 1992 with the City of Las Vegas Department of Public Safety and retired in 2020, after serving as the Chief for almost ten years. Under her leadership, the department advanced through progressive 21st-century strategies essential in contemporary law enforcement. She is a member of several organizations including, the American Jail Association, International Chiefs of Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy and sits on the boards for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Trauma Intervention Program where she continues to devote her life work to enhancing others, especially in the mental health arena.

Michele’s Links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MFreemanvegas
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michele-freeman-8933b845/

Key Quotes:
1. “Be where our feet are.”
2. “Nobody is more valuable than another person.”
3. “You have to think about the human side.”
4. “The people are what matter.”
5. “Without people, you don’t have anything.”
6. “If you have the choice to be right or kind: choose kind.”
7. “There is no need that you have to be right all the time.”
8. “Always be true to yourself.”
9. “Lead with love.”
10. “The foundation of every relationship is trust.”

Links Mentioned In The Episode:
“Positive Quotes for Everyday” by Patricia Lorenz: https://amzn.to/3dI2tMZ

Buy David’s NEW book Trusted Leader: https://www.trustedleaderbook.com/

David’s Links:
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Show Transcript

David Horsager: Welcome to the trusted leader show it’s David Horsager and I have a special guest today, she has been in law enforcement for 28 and a half years, she was police chief at the city of Las Vegas i’ll do that formally she was the.

David Horsager: Chief of the department of public safety at the city of Las Vegas she has just done an amazing job there, and she was trusted certified we’ve been able to do some fun.

David Horsager: exciting work in the city of Las Vegas i’m grateful for that i’m grateful because you know she really reflects this work around trust, as we say on stage and off at work at home and and she’s become a friend, so please welcome just retired chief Michelle freeman how you doing today.

Michele Freeman: i’m great Thank you so much for having me it’s such a pleasure to be here and I really appreciate that welcome.

Michele Freeman: And yes, i’m glad we become friends you’ve been very inspirational for me and it’s been just a wonderful time getting to know you and learning through you and learning and living by actually the eight pillars of trust, quite honestly, well.

David Horsager: I, I am grateful and i’m grateful for everything that’s happened, the city Las Vegas and just the partnership there, and especially you know getting to see you and and there’s just what a great great great family, you have out there of people.

Michele Freeman: Right, since I mean you are up.

David Horsager: In the fourth 28 and a half years so let’s just give us a background, I know you went to the FBI academy and all these things but give our listeners we’ve got leaders from.

David Horsager: CEOs to presidents of countries and companies and sports teams listening and you know have people around the world, but give us the.

David Horsager: Just what’s that what’s the background of Michelle freeman and your leadership and from grown up a little bit to the FBI academy and on to 28 and a half years wow.

Michele Freeman: yeah so thank you so let’s see i’ll start in New York, because that’s where i’m originally from so I left New York to come to Las Vegas.

Michele Freeman: I am in internally I love New York, and I was a big new yorker I came to the Las Vegas and it was a bit of a culture shock, I have to say.

Michele Freeman: And now that I reflect back it’s really funny because I loved the food back there right, so it was really hard for me, you know a good piece of pizza is very important right, we want a good piece of pizza and so.

Michele Freeman: slice of pizza and so that was really hard and then coming here back when I did, which was in.

Michele Freeman: 89 I came out to Vegas and it was a culture shock, because it seems very slow to me back then so here, I am very fast paced New York, and then we come over to.

Michele Freeman: Vegas and I go into the store and I go into the stores and i’m sitting there, and people are talking and i’m like just buy your products and let’s go.

Michele Freeman: Little did I know right, because this is before.

Michele Freeman: I come out here before my 21st birthday and so i’ve been out here a long time, and so little did I know that building trust was just that.

Michele Freeman: was being and enjoying where you’re at being where your feet are and enjoying the moment and conversing with people so that’s where I kind of started and I came to Vegas and I remember a friend of mine said to me.

Michele Freeman: Oh, you know you’re gonna wait until you see it, because you know new york’s cold it snows it has seasons.

Michele Freeman: latency you see the first winter you’re going to be incredibly just like beside yourself because normally.

Michele Freeman: we’re all bundled up, but in New York right snow blizzard that kind of thing no so in Vegas she says we’re going to go on campus because I came out here to finish school.

Michele Freeman: My undergrad at you know they were going to be on campus and you’re going to see people that are gonna be all bundled up scarves and hats and mittens on warm jackets so sure enough, the very first ones are i’m here.

Michele Freeman: I see all this i’m in a sweat shirt and shorts right little winter, it was December I remember this everyone else bundled up and jackets and well you know cozy and then the very next winter it wasn’t very funny anymore, I was the bundled up one right.

Michele Freeman: So I quickly convert it to the Las Vegas lifestyle I learned how to say Nevada correctly, so I now love and appreciate my culture that I have here so with That being said.

Michele Freeman: let’s see I started in the department of public safety and.

Michele Freeman: As a corrections officer and then I moved through the ranks and like you said I landed in in the position as chief.

Michele Freeman: appreciate it, the responsibilities that would give them with me they’re appreciated everything that I was given love the city of Las Vegas and everything that I got.

Michele Freeman: From there building the relationships cultivating and maintaining them throughout the years and it was really hard to depart right so.

Michele Freeman: So that’s where i’m at now, you mentioned the FBI National Academy what an offer that I couldn’t refuse it was such an opportunity that I never was expecting.

Michele Freeman: You know, not very many people get to go to the National Academy made friends internationally so there’s over 200 people that got to go to quantico for over two and a half years.

Michele Freeman: And you had like it was kind of like a call it a three prong you had academia, you had to take actual college credits very strict schedule and then you also had your.

Michele Freeman: Your physical part, so you had to do your physical challenges.

Michele Freeman: And then you had your networking, which was by far, of course, the most important piece because it’s all about building trusting relationships right and that’s where I really was able to cultivate so many more relationships around the world.

David Horsager: hey you know after that now just to we’re going to go back to being chief and some of the challenges, you had the the shooting of 2017 you’ve had some big challenges you’ve had to be a part of lead in.

David Horsager: Racial unrest right before you retired and how you’ve had to step up as a leader, and when I think Michelle freeman I think of this.

David Horsager: wonderfully fast paced loving, I think you go by this quarter, I remember that lead with love, I remember, you said that to me lead with love right, but this loving kind but also this kind of.

David Horsager: spit fire ready to step up for the challenge that’s needed to love all and deal with all these big challenges that we have before we get there.

David Horsager: You know jump ahead because you’re learning today you’re jumping ready, you said you’re retiring and your husband’s playing golf and and.

David Horsager: Having a whole lot of fun and you jump right into a doctorate in Michelle style that can’t slow down tell us just a glimpse about that, and what you’re learning now and what do you hope with that.

Michele Freeman: yeah absolutely so.

Michele Freeman: I have been on this path, this really great journey and it’s very interesting, so my doctoral degree, will be in public policy.

Michele Freeman: it’s a very cool program it’s not a typical degree with it she’s a PhD, this is a inaugural program that I got to enter in with my very first cohort it started three years ago i’m going to be graduating hopefully in May.

Michele Freeman: We cross our fingers on that i’m almost there, but the light is blurry but it’s there you know, at the end of the tunnel.

Michele Freeman: And it’s in public policy which is very interesting because that’s not where I necessarily ever thought i’d be I actually had started going back for a psychology psychiatry and.

Michele Freeman: And, and you know life changes it takes a different path, sometimes, but why i’m doing this and why it’s so important, is my focus is.

Michele Freeman: Helping officers and it’s educating and assessing and preventing Suicide Prevention for law enforcement officers and i’ve been trying to help change the culture for over two decades with.

Michele Freeman: Recognizing and making a culture that’s that’s okay to not be okay for mental and emotional health to be just as good as physical health or just as important, excuse me as physical health.

Michele Freeman: Because, all of them bleed together right it’s and and they reflect one another and it’s so important to speak that, and you know, here we are, as police officers.

Michele Freeman: Law enforcement officers and we’re supposed to be the ones taking care and helping others so it’s very hard for us to be the ones to recognize that we need assistance and so culturally it’s just not something we.

Michele Freeman: entered into that’s not how you entered into it, especially when I began, you know so many years ago in 1992 so my goal is to help change the culture help with some.

Michele Freeman: With a policy change and to continue working on resiliency working on self care working on how can we be okay with not being Okay, and knowing that we’re all going to fall down at some point.

Michele Freeman: How do we get back up, how do we practice so that we can get back up quicker and how do we say you know what I need help.

David Horsager: How do you, you know this is interesting because a lot of our leaders are listening and they’re going 100 miles an hour there.

David Horsager: Some of them have focused so much on their role, their work, their mission they’ve lost their home their family and their health and that’s that’s certainly in policing that certainly in you know, a whole lot of other types of leadership that we whether it’s government or.

David Horsager: Corporate or even superintendents of schools, you know, so what what maybe let’s get real personal here, what have you done yeah.

David Horsager: I mean if people don’t see on the screen and they’re just listening to podcasts and not watching the video in front of me on screen, is a very vibrant health, the.

David Horsager: Lady that if you meet her, she is full of energy and just you know beautifully healthy, how do you stay healthy because physically emotionally i’m sure you had ups and downs, too, but what do you do personally to just keep.

David Horsager: Keep keep healthy when you get the weight of the world and the weight of all those challenges kind of in Vegas and leadership and all these things on you, what did you do and what do you continue to do, maybe routine wise even.

Michele Freeman: yeah no thanks for the question, and it is really important, because.

Michele Freeman: And I think I think what’s important and i’ll share me is, we all need to recognize that it’s not a one size size fits all right.

Michele Freeman: there’s a lot of things we can do that are really simple but it not may not always be easy, especially during times of like sadness depression.

Michele Freeman: or times, where you’re just feeling down or in a rut right because we’re all going to have something that’s going to happen in life.

Michele Freeman: there’s gonna be some kind of trauma or tragedy that will eventually happen, whether it’s small or large it doesn’t matter, sometimes it affects us right.

Michele Freeman: So one thing that I love to do on a daily basis is I love positive quotes i’m always searching for positivity i’m always looking for positive quotes.

Michele Freeman: So that’s something that’s inspiration, you know, for me, I love to listen to positive podcasts I definitely meditate.

Michele Freeman: So this was a hard one for me to get into because I was like I can’t meditate my brain is always moving i’m always on the go I can never just settle it.

Michele Freeman: And then, finally I realized you’re not supposed to settle it you’re supposed to understand and accept and work through it, so I got to learn what meditation was really about.

Michele Freeman: And now I really enjoy it don’t get me wrong, I don’t always have a good meditation sometimes it doesn’t work to my advantage.

Michele Freeman: But it just so helpful and i’m belly breathing just breathing because a lot of times what happens is especially in you know in high fast paced jobs, regardless whether it’s policing or something else right.

Michele Freeman: we’re on the go and we’re breathing up here, which is, which you know is your chest area.

Michele Freeman: Well that’s kind of like your fighter flight area, you want to be breathing from your down your belly breaths So if you actually breathe and you get a full deep breath into your belly.

Michele Freeman: that’s going to help regulate your breath and even just like sitting up in a structure that strong posture and then relax see if you’re you’re holding your shoulders just relax them.

Michele Freeman: You can feel such a difference in like when you stand like, with your shoulders up.

Michele Freeman: You can feel such a difference in the tension of your body so there’s so many little things that you know I practice, and you can do them like in a meeting.

Michele Freeman: You can literally ground yourself and just help relax because sometimes you know we’re in a meeting and I know i’ve even lead meetings that people are like oh.

Michele Freeman: When is she going to be done with this meeting i’m you know i’m ready to be done, and conversely i’ve also sat in meetings where i’m like.

Michele Freeman: I don’t think i’m listening anymore and realize I better get back into it, so I get back to let me just get back to where we’re at now be where our feet or be where our spaces in time grounds, your feet right and.

Michele Freeman: And just take a deep breath and that really helps a lot so Those are a few of the things that I like to do.

David Horsager: forever regular as far as both physical and mental, it seems, you know you brought those up as far as the you know even suicide rates and just other things do you have a certain physical routine like yourself to stay fit.

Michele Freeman: So so here’s where i’m going to give you a little bit of look like i’m going to go vulnerable here right.

Michele Freeman: So a few years back, I had a back injury, but I didn’t actually do something to it at that moment in time, but it for sure went out.

Michele Freeman: So that’s also another way that I had to stop and slow down and take that pause right pausing is so important, reflecting on what’s going on, and people are like oh it’s got to be from the duty belts right.

Michele Freeman: And I said no i’m not going to say it’s it’s from the duty bout do I think that the weight on the duty balance made a difference for sure, but so I think that that was the cause of my back injury.

Michele Freeman: Absolutely not, I was very active growing up, I played a lot of sports I did a lot of things I was always doing things.

Michele Freeman: And I think that’s part of my back injury was just from the normal wear and tear of life.

Michele Freeman: And you know me probably not doing some of the self care routines that I talked about and I needed to pay attention to my physical response to probably my mental and emotional.

Michele Freeman: Not doing so good right, so I went ahead and I had to go through some PT so right now unfortunately i’m not as active as i’ve used to be.

Michele Freeman: love to go to the gym love to lift I used to lift heavy I used to Cardio wasn’t My big friends, but I obviously would do Cardio because it was important for you know that part for your heart for your health.

Michele Freeman: And I love to be in the gym I played sports growing up love to do all those things now it’s a little different you know i’m a little older in life things changed my back injury, so what I do is I do a lot of more like.

Michele Freeman: relaxation i’ll do physical things i’ve learned in physical PT you know physical therapy.

Michele Freeman: And some of the mild yoga poses and I work with people today because I always know that I can learn more i’m a life learner for sure I always want to know how can I absorb more information right.

Michele Freeman: So what I do now is I love to take walks and instead of walking fast to get to nowhere quickly, I take gratitude walks I.

Michele Freeman: Am I go outside and I literally stop and smell the roses I literally takes, and this is a great thing to do, take a gratitude walk you go and you don’t have to leave your backyard your front yard your street you can go right there and.

Michele Freeman: Really notice things you’ve never noticed before oh I knew I had a tree in the front yard, but wow look at the leaves on it.

David Horsager: So what i’m hearing it for you a gratitude walk is a big part of it is noticing noticing and being thankful being grateful.

Michele Freeman: Absolutely extraordinarily important for me.

David Horsager: On the meditation tell me like what’s a good meditation look like, for you.

Michele Freeman: So I need help, I need a guided meditation I am not good to do my own meditation so I have to use either one of the.

Michele Freeman: Like I use one of the ones you can find so many online guided meditations if you’re into peloton you can even go on to peloton and use the APP there that have guided meditations on there.

Michele Freeman: there’s people locally, that I follow you can go online like I said and do them.

Michele Freeman: Actually deepak chopra and oprah do a guided meditation they do do guided meditations love there’s so there’s just different ones, and what resonates with you.

Michele Freeman: I think is different right, so you should try different ones and that’s that’s the thing for me when I started doing it.

Michele Freeman: I was like Oh, my goodness it’s not working, but I created a routine, especially when I hurt my back.

Michele Freeman: So I started doing it in my little yoga room I would do my physical therapy and then i’d go right into my guided meditation.

Michele Freeman: And I would do them and they didn’t always quote unquote work for me I first started doing them and then I ended up kind of listening to them in the car, but not actually meditating so I was just kind of getting used to it.

Michele Freeman: And now finally typically first thing I do in the morning before I even get out of it and last thing I do in the evening is a guided meditation.

Michele Freeman: And same thing I do my gratitude I reflect upon the day in the evening and quietly by myself in bed when I close my eyes my husband doesn’t even probably know this.

Michele Freeman: I think what, in the last 24 hours is the one thing, even if I had a bad day that I can find gratitude in and it might simply be you know what the water just felt good in my skin in the shower this morning.

David Horsager: So let’s jump from.

David Horsager: gratitude blocks and meditation to the fierceness of leadership when.

David Horsager: 61 people die in a shooting in 2017 or racial unrest what What did you do I mean what you, you were known for leading in the midst of some big challenges I heard.

David Horsager: and saw very positive things I think of.

David Horsager: Some things I heard but tell us about you know when you’re in bed when you have to lead them, and you have to bring calm to them.

David Horsager: And you are fast pace, and you are positive, but that is you’re also an empathize arm and there was just it was a tough time I remember listening to your That was the communications director said.

David Horsager: We you know people obviously were critical of us, because this terrible thing happened, but we handled it so much better our team we things actually went.

David Horsager: In many, many ways very well because of how we were set up and prepped and and whatnot but.

David Horsager: Some of that’s your leadership, what What did you do in those times i’m thinking of right now the the social unrest of last year and the you know that 2017 those stands out to me, and maybe there’s many more i’m sure in your 28 and a half years, but what do you how do you lead them.

Michele Freeman: So that’s that’s great questions so obviously last year it was very complicated because we had not only did we have the worldwide pandemic which we’ve never seen in our lives.

Michele Freeman: And then on the heels of that we get civil unrest right and and then.

Michele Freeman: You know just everyone’s personal own space that they’re in which is life and death.

Michele Freeman: So there’s an all in between right things happening and and children having to be homeschooled and what’s going to happen next, and.

Michele Freeman: people that are you know already ill and you’re taking care of them or trying to take care of your own illnesses So those are all really challenging times and you did mention one October, and that was a big Community thing for us um and it hit, of course, nationwide and.

Michele Freeman: Las Vegas is such a great place what’s great about it is people come from all over.

Michele Freeman: So people literally didn’t just feel it because or read about it because they were reading about it elsewhere, they were feeling it because they were visiting here during that actual time.

Michele Freeman: And so we had a lot of people that were victims that weren’t necessarily from Las Vegas right.

Michele Freeman: So first off, I definitely want to give kudos to all the wrestling agencies surrounding us and to our our Big Brother agency here the city of Las Vegas.

Michele Freeman: wasn’t it was Las Vegas Metropolitan Police department and the Sheriff who runs that department is who had to lead through his police department through that and he was the one who was really.

Michele Freeman: Running in and also you know, calling upon us to assist all of the other local agencies and what Las Vegas is known for which is really, really.

Michele Freeman: Incredibly inspiring is our Community and our Community and we come together and it’s not worth.

Michele Freeman: it’s not worth we come together during difficult times, and that doesn’t mean that somebody won’t say.

Michele Freeman: I didn’t like what was going on there’s certainly going to be people that didn’t feel like they were Community right in times of trouble or difficulty or.

Michele Freeman: In devastation or traumatic experiences, however, I personally witnessed where we all, as if i’m speaking in the law enforcement space, the law enforcement communities.

Michele Freeman: public safety Community so whether it’s the fire departments We work very well, a police departments first responders have expanded what that definition means here in Vegas nap here, and I should say our entire southern Community southern Las Vegas area southern Nevada area, excuse me.

Michele Freeman: And what that means is we’re not we’re not not looking at that was a double negative so don’t do that.

Michele Freeman: But we’re we look at everybody we look at you know whether you’re in the hospital your medical staff your fire department everybody’s first responders behind the scene people.

Michele Freeman: dispatch your people that are working maintenance they’re doing all these things, to make sure that everybody on the front line can continue to move, nobody is more valuable than another person.

Michele Freeman: And that’s what’s so incredible about our Community, we cultivate on that relationship we built that relationship and we’re able to move forward, so one of the things that i’ll use as an example through that time was.

Michele Freeman: We weren’t on the strip so my department wasn’t on the strip and here’s what the challenge was for that.

Michele Freeman: Because the Sheriff had enough people there Metropolitan Police department and the other agencies that report it and respond it there was enough people there was actually more than enough people.

Michele Freeman: You know the thing is is you gotta you gotta be careful because too many people sometimes it’s too many people so here’s what happened.

Michele Freeman: We were taking tours and we were walking around and making sure people were okay and come to find out that you’re trained to run in.

Michele Freeman: So we have all these officers here waiting to run in waiting to render aid waiting to give help suited up ready to go, really, really on fire, to help their brothers and sisters in our public safety arena.

Michele Freeman: And they’re told to stand down so now another set of emotions coming because they want to help, so they have to understand which it was very hard in that space.

Michele Freeman: How do I not how do I not run in when that’s what I was told to what to do, that’s what i’m on the ready for i’m always on the ready to ride in right.

Michele Freeman: And so what part of us did was organize and develop plans to be able to accept where they have to stay and how do they work within where they’re at to help the community at large.

Michele Freeman: One of the things that are our police officers, we call them marshals in the city Las Vegas department of public safety same thing as police officers so that’s the same term same category one in Category one certification here in the city or excuse me, and then state in Nevada.

Michele Freeman: What they were given as they were given this responsibility, the Court go to the coroner’s office, and we want you to secure the perimeter.

Michele Freeman: Well, what does that mean that means that they’re going to go and they’re going to make sure that when these families are coming and looking for their loved ones that there is.

Michele Freeman: You know, some kind of order when they come because the coroner’s office has to be protected, obviously that’s the last place you go.

Michele Freeman: When something devastating happens and if there’s death right so so we were told go there, so I did a tour with.

Michele Freeman: Our crisis intervention administrator and a lieutenant at the time, because we were just.

Michele Freeman: My thing is be where your people are beat you know and and balancing that because that’s sometimes I don’t get to always be where my people are and that’s, the most important thing for me.

Michele Freeman: And sometimes I have to be behind the scenes right, but in this case we go down to the coroner’s office and we learn that you know what our people weren’t just securing the perimeter.

Michele Freeman: Our people were actually taking these victims these victims and taking them and helping the people that worked at the coroner’s office.

Michele Freeman: move from one gurney to another cleaning off the blood on the gurney that the body just was on so that they can make it.

Michele Freeman: sanitized for the next person that comes in, because everyone wants to be treated and needs to be treated with respect.

Michele Freeman: So my officers were doing this very different job that they thought was going to be what they were going to be doing.

Michele Freeman: To include some of my officers that were on that were just starting, and that were just on probation and actually and field training.

Michele Freeman: So what a change in where you think you’re going to be to where you left and then everyone else you know, there was a lot of officers and all the other employees that were helping.

Michele Freeman: and supporting and the the like the corrections officers in the jail.

Michele Freeman: We didn’t know if there was going to be like mass arrests or what was going to go on the time was this you know what was the situation at hand so they’re sitting in preparing and waiting.

Michele Freeman: So everyone did a beautiful job, I was very proud, it was one of the most devastating well, it was the most devastating.

Michele Freeman: Big scene ever right across America, however, it was one of the most devastating scenes personally that we were involved in, and then the other piece was checking on your people on here, it was where.

Michele Freeman: You know the deputy chief would walk through and everyone would say oh yeah everything’s good i’m good i’m good and then.

Michele Freeman: I walked through with my crisis intervention administrator and just moments changed because when we get there, they just found out oh my gosh my son was there.

Michele Freeman: And now they’re trying to process that while standing at work, doing their public service job so constant you know mental health and emotional well being and trying to check on everybody.

Michele Freeman: And then you know moving into civil unrest we’re having to you know everyone’s entitled to their first amendment right go out and have a civil protest we’re all for that you are, you should be able to speak your.

Michele Freeman: Your your your belief and go out, but we still had to suit up and be ready and make sure that we connect with the people out there, communicate builds a relationship and hope that the leaders will go ahead and keep it’ll stay peaceful.

Michele Freeman: Well, the hardest thing that I had to do as a leader was now have a almost it was a pre brief because it wasn’t a debrief like after the incident, so it was a briefing really and I went again with the crisis.

Michele Freeman: Intervention administrator and we met the marshals who now we’re all in there, right here and i’m standing out there.

Michele Freeman: In the parking lot and they’re all getting ready to leave they’re all suited up and their gear their trains up and ready to go.

Michele Freeman: And then I had to stay behind.

Michele Freeman: That was incredibly difficult to send everyone out there and me not be there with them.

David Horsager: One thing I noticed about you.

David Horsager: You know, is your deep care for the people and the mission and the city and I know the motto of serve and protect it, that that going back to the night, the.

David Horsager: one October event of how they’re just ready to serve, and that they that they did serve not everybody would do that, like you said, the tension, of being ready to run in and had told to stand down or clean up the blood of someone, but I think there’s attention you know we work with.

David Horsager: Many police departments and chiefs officers, I think, for me, at least, and they all i’ll say the similarity with you, they feel this call to serve and protect we have some great people in our country.

David Horsager: Serving and protecting what they haven’t seen, like you, is someone that cares so much about her people on the team leads.

David Horsager: Even on her sleeve kind of really genuinely lovingly optimistically cares at I think they may be do, but the difference, I saw was with you, I.

David Horsager: I saw people you know a lot of times in policing just have a more of a Shell up like they can’t.

David Horsager: Be emotional or feel the emotion, because it’s just so much, and I, you know i’ve even dear dear friends, that you know that the things you see.

David Horsager: On a daily basis, your people see in that tragic situation with that kid in that apartment or that drug is just the worst of the worst.

David Horsager: That girl that whatever you know this, the images that you see, but your positiveness in life and your care for your people like.

David Horsager: I just think I guess how did you balance showing care and because people can tell out there you care they they can tell, and yet.

David Horsager: And yet, not having this Shell up like like me like I often talk to my police friends and say when I speak at big policing events and like.

David Horsager: They all sit in the back with their hands arms crossed they’re hard and cold, this can be because they want to everybody’s got to see which doors, you know they all want to be the back back back person right and.

David Horsager: And you understand why because they’ve all been lied to hundred times a day.

David Horsager: I didn’t speed I didn’t steal I didn’t do that I never did that and that and then, in that case for building trust they don’t trust anybody, you know, in a way, they don’t they don’t believe anybody because they’ve been lied to hundred times a day.

David Horsager: So they trust you’re lying or many are you know, in a way it’s a bit of a joke with with close friends of mine but I guess.

David Horsager: The tension and the beauty, I think I just how did you do it to be to be caring and I know it’s not easy to take you know this isn’t a pandering thing but it people need to know you really.

David Horsager: Care emotionally, for your people, and yet, how do you have enough of a distance, so that you keep your sanity in you know these tragic situations that you’re having to deal with.

Michele Freeman: yeah so.

Michele Freeman: it’s an interesting question because I think a lot of people for a long time people never saw that within me and I was very I wasn’t as vulnerable and.

Michele Freeman: You know, I think that the moment in life that changed me was I was a lieutenant and the deputy chief at the time, His name was his name is bill frazier.

Michele Freeman: He told me, you know, I was, I was very about the structure and I was very about the rules and the policies and procedures and it’s very important right.

Michele Freeman: Because that’s what we do in policing we make sure that people are following the Rules, whether it’s it’s state regulations it’s ordinances.

Michele Freeman: It state statutes, whatever it may be they’re following the rule if that’s the jock follow the rule follow the rule and it’s it’s black and white world.

Michele Freeman: But it’s really not there’s Gray, and what he really taught me was.

Michele Freeman: I came in there to talk to him about something that was very black and Gray, in my eyes, there was somebody that absolutely violated policy and I felt like there so violate policy equals discipline back in my younger years right.

David Horsager: And you set out and like jail right.

David Horsager: Like I did on the on the detention Center front.

David Horsager: yeah.

Michele Freeman: Absolutely, I was incarcerated you know, they say, do one one day at a time and entire sentence of your work history right that’s the jail business.

Michele Freeman: right here in the jail business and it’s a very unique business to be in and a lot of people can’t do it so it’s very i’m glad you brought that up because.

Michele Freeman: A lot of times the correction staff gets overlooked and they do such a unique job and it’s very admirable and it’s very difficult and I remember so many police officers saying there’s no way.

Michele Freeman: I could be locked up for my entire career, one day, at a time of work right so.

Michele Freeman: Well, what happened was he you know i’m sitting here and I come to him, and I say this is what I think we need to do right we’ve got this violation and we need to go ahead and.

Michele Freeman: Next, it to this discipline and he’s like Michelle he’s like you have to think about the human side the human side is just as important as anything else.

Michele Freeman: And the at that point in time that’s when I was able to I didn’t get it fully then but I heard it and I let it compute.

Michele Freeman: And because I was very no emotion like I didn’t show emotion, I never let anyone through my shall I always kept that very strong you know i’ll go with the New York like you know look I kept it very strong structured and.

Michele Freeman: And he said it, and, over time, I was able to develop more and more, because I was all about let’s just get the job done we don’t need to talk about your family we don’t need to get to know each other, we don’t but I missed the mark so long.

Michele Freeman: And didn’t realize the importance of networking and connecting and building those trusting relationships.

Michele Freeman: in life, and that was the foundation of when the light bulb turned on for me that I was able to understand.

Michele Freeman: and feel what that meant without not being able to do my job, I still had to look out and do things and make difficult decisions for sure, and I still you know was doing that, throughout my career.

Michele Freeman: But connect with the people, because the people are what matter it without people you don’t have anything.

Michele Freeman: That love it well.

David Horsager: it’s true well, you said something to me, you know I had you get on the phone with all of our certified trust edge coaches.

David Horsager: You know right there, and maybe it was April or May of the pandemic and.

David Horsager: or actually would have been right after this more of the civil unrest and we had the George George floyd murder out here, and you know the challenges, with all that kind of thing, and you know what.

David Horsager: All of the issues that came kind of that instigated and I remember in the midst of that you have the civil unrest things like you have the protests happening out there, some of them, and although.

David Horsager: Because of the relationships you guys have built you had a lot less, I think that many parts of the world right, but you said something like we don’t do, social justice and saying we do we do physical distancing and I love that tell us about how you did that.

Michele Freeman: yeah so thank you for for saying that too.

Michele Freeman: So so social distancing is this like a word that everyone’s using right.

Michele Freeman: But that’s not what we really want to do we want to, we want to physically distance ourselves from people because we don’t want to.

Michele Freeman: Be around, we want to make sure that we’re safe and that we do the right things, and that we continue to physical distance, so that we can go ahead and help our Community heal as best as we can.

Michele Freeman: not carry our this pandemic forward, you know, reduce the rate of our the the virus itself and maintain the physical distance connection.

Michele Freeman: or excuse me, the social distance the social connection, so we want to stay socially connected and physically apart.

Michele Freeman: So and and so physically apart, is what we’re doing right here, right now, we’re but we’re staying socially connected, you and I are having a conversation like you’re sitting right here with me.

Michele Freeman: But we’re maintaining our physical distance, so that we can help our Community, and I think that what happens in right now so many people are having so many difficulties with.

Michele Freeman: a myriad of things because of the change in the way that we’re living and not having that connection and not being able to be physically with people, which is very difficult right because isolation.

Michele Freeman: Is a whole nother thing, especially people that live by themselves right so that you’re not able to.

Michele Freeman: work and live the way that you’re used to working and living and staying by yourself, is difficult.

Michele Freeman: But there are so many ways, that you can maintain this social relationship and continuance of connection.

Michele Freeman: And continuance of building your relationships it hasn’t changed, and you know what I like to do is try and look at, there was the generation.

Michele Freeman: Prior to actually you know gen X, probably, I would say, or the millennial generation right that was that started to speak to me and say Look, we want to work remotely can we work remotely and and.

Michele Freeman: The thought process at the time was pretty much around many places in our country was no you come to work because that’s what you do right well look at us now.

Michele Freeman: These millennials were correct, you can work in the space that we’re working in now, and there are studies to even say be more productive.

Michele Freeman: So you can actually have or like a combination of work right, you can combine whether it’s remote.

Michele Freeman: and physical and so you can have this beautiful relationship we do things that we wouldn’t have done it now there’s like quarantine he our right, people are having quarantining drinks and.

Michele Freeman: quarantining parties and all this fun stuff you can still you can do a puzzle with someone from another word, you know across the world, you can do.

Michele Freeman: you read a book with somebody in another State in another country, you can do things with other people without physically being there but maintaining your social connection.

Michele Freeman: And then keep our emotional.

David Horsager: yeah let’s touch on you know it hit us hard here in minneapolis when the you know the the civil unrest, of course, and and I remember i’ll get real vulnerable here, I hope this comes out exactly right, but you know I had, I have a.

David Horsager: An African American teammate on our team here and we were just over lunch, I was just talking about how are you feeling and and he was talking about how.

David Horsager: Heavy it was for their family and and his son and and just some of the things that have never happened to me that have happened to him and and.

David Horsager: and his his 18 year old son and and some stuff that he was going through in that emotional time processing things five minutes later.

David Horsager: I got a call from a white police officer that’s scared to death, how police officers are going to be treated as a result of this whole you know the civil unrest challenges in Minnesota and.

David Horsager: His perspective, which was very different but somehow one I just love you to speak to the differences and what what how you deal with that and to I think just you did a beautiful job and i’ve seen you do it building relationships across.

David Horsager: Cultural and other divides economic and other divides and I think just speaking to that as a leader, a little bit and what you have done in Vegas and personally.

Michele Freeman: yeah thanks.

Michele Freeman: So this is, you know it’s obviously a heavy topic and it’s very real and it’s very important and.

Michele Freeman: I think one of the things that really resonated with me was several years back, I was fortunate enough to the city of Las Vegas to take a diversity class.

Michele Freeman: This class was more than just a class right your routing class, it was really an eye opening experience it was a few days, there was a couple different kind of.

Michele Freeman: showcases of it, but I was able to go in the leadership forum, and I think it was three days it may have been to.

Michele Freeman: It was many, many years back, and you know my different my my definition of diversity really was very similar to their definition of diversity.

Michele Freeman: And that’s inclusion of everybody and that’s us and just speak to your color your skin religion, gender.

Michele Freeman: Any preference it’s about your thought process and your experiences and your exposures and how you were brought up.

Michele Freeman: That all develops your thought process and that’s how you kind of think the way that you do right, and so you go through life and you may have a certain experiences and exposures that kind of major.

Michele Freeman: And all of those are just as important as any one of anyone’s else’s and so when it’s funny for me, you know because we just talked about in policing it’s like.

Michele Freeman: Where the people in blue you put on the uniform and it’s like.

Michele Freeman: I don’t see I see the the blue we’re on the same team it’s kind of like when you suit up to go and play you know or practice practice before you’re going to play a game.

Michele Freeman: you’re suiting up and you’re on the same team you’re just it doesn’t matter what you look like what your color your skin is what your religion is what you ate for breakfast what you didn’t eat for breakfast.

Michele Freeman: You just come and you’re there to be on the same team and to move towards the common goal right.

Michele Freeman: And so my that’s how I was actually brought up, and I mean New York is you know, I was fortunate to be in that Community bringing us up there and learning the way that I did.

Michele Freeman: And and experiencing lots of differences and accepting lots of differences and recognizing that everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

Michele Freeman: And their opinion is just as valuable as mine, even if it’s a difference of opinion it doesn’t matter i’m allowed to have mine and everyone else is allowed to have theirs.

Michele Freeman: And I always say like if you have the choice to be writer kinds choose kinds there’s no need that you have to be right, all the time and sometimes you can be right and it’s hurtful.

Michele Freeman: And it doesn’t mean that you have to express right, and so, for me, I think you know it’s real, we need to take a pause and understand that no one can understand any of us, none of us right.

Michele Freeman: So I i’ll use this analogy, and I don’t know if i’m getting deep enough for you, but i’ll give this analogy that I use quite a bit.

Michele Freeman: I look at life as this balcony and we’re all in the balcony of life.

Michele Freeman: And so during our life we have different seats in the balcony so right now I have my seat in the balcony because of all of my experience all of my journey so far has taken me so this seat.

Michele Freeman: And even if you were to sit on my lap not being weird or anything but even if you were to sit on my lap and look forward.

Michele Freeman: you’re not going to see this things the same way that i’m going to see him i’m going to have to look around you i’m going to have to look beside you we’re not going to see it exactly the same.

Michele Freeman: And then, as I, develop and I grow i’m going to move to a new seat in the balcony and i’m going to get to experience and see things just differently now again in my new seat.

Michele Freeman: So, as we continue through our life journey we continue and see things differently, and if we go and we reflect, which is something I really take a lot of time to do nowadays.

Michele Freeman: reflect on the past, how can we learn from it not be disappointed and maybe something we wish, we would have done differently, but you know, learn and grow, so if we can do that.

Michele Freeman: and change and have a little bit more grace for ourselves.

Michele Freeman: As well as others, and even if we’re opinionated people because, first, first of all I am opinionated I absolutely you know I told you, I keep saying coming from New York, we all got that stereotype you’ve got an opinion.

Michele Freeman: And I do and i’m quick to be able to do that, but at the same time I I have that opinion and then I stopped and I pause and I was very lucky i’ll give you one more.

Michele Freeman: one more piece of my journey, when I was in when I was going for my associates degree back in New York, and I was fortunate to have a Defense attorney as a professor.

Michele Freeman: And this is what he shared we talked about all these different controversial issues, so we would talk about when I talk controversial i’m talking about hot topic controversial i’m talking about.

Michele Freeman: let’s say death penalty abortion things that are very controversial and people are very passionate about right, so this is what he did, for us, and this is me and my young years, he said, my late teenage years but young years he says.

Michele Freeman: Who who believes in you know xyz and we all raise our hands on what side we believed in right whether death penalty pro or not in you know against death penalty same thing for abortion.

Michele Freeman: And then he broke us up into teams and now we have to defend the side that we were opposition of.

Michele Freeman: That very lesson allowed me to continue to grow through life and remember so but, even when I make my judgment call I always try to look the surrounding area of what.

Michele Freeman: could be converse to what my beliefs, are what could be different and there’s so many things that you can do something, the same way.

Michele Freeman: or excuse me, you can do one thing get the same result and do it different ways and it doesn’t mean anyone was wrong, it just means that it was different and we should be able to respect those differences, because we’re one.

Michele Freeman: Community we all are the same, we all have skeletal structures and we all bleed red.

David Horsager: yeah well from a little depth here to wrapping up to the lightning round this has been so good, Michelle so good, I mean everybody.

David Horsager: defend I love this idea defend the opposite side learned event we my dad was, by the way, really good at this bringing up something at the table and you got to defend either side, and it was such a healthy thing, and I remember, then other people aren’t like that it meant.

David Horsager: You can’t this isn’t an argument it’s whatever you believe it isn’t an argument to learn right, it was a argument to have instead and.

David Horsager: What a gift, but all of this inclusion of everybody grace I love this one, if you if you have a choice, if you have to choose between right and kind choose kind.

David Horsager: Be where you are take a view from the balcony it’s different than anybody else’s, no matter where how you set.

David Horsager: pod is positive, you your little start to the day positive quotes month podcasts meditate belly breathe be there pause.

David Horsager: Take a gratitude walk I mean there’s so much here physical not physical not not social this might have to physical distance doesn’t mean you have to social distance so.

David Horsager: Here we go Michelle this has been so we can talk all day I love this but we’re going to the lightning round, you only get a sentence each or so, you know you’re you’re gonna get tight and and quick here as we bring it to a close what’s a favorite book or resource right now.

Michele Freeman: So my go to is positive quotes for every day by Patricia Lawrence.

David Horsager: Okay positive quotes, by the way, everybody, this will all be in the show notes, all you have to do is look at trusted leader show.com wwe trusted leader show COM.

David Horsager: Anything great that’s referenced here that Michelle may miss the show notes chief freeman will will will just make sure it’s it’s listed there, so you don’t have to worry about putting it down too quick, so all right number two what’s something you can’t live without.

Michele Freeman: I would say.

Michele Freeman: I would say, I talked about pizza pizza is definitely a go.

David Horsager: There we go.

Michele Freeman: And then.

Michele Freeman: style New York style for sure, but I would also say.

Michele Freeman: connectivity and cultivating relationships and building on by long lasting family and friend relationships.


David Horsager: best advice or in the in a quick round here just a piece of advice or a quote.

Michele Freeman: always be true to yourself.

David Horsager: always be true to yourself love it and I love yours lead with love the Foundation every relationship is trust like that one a lot.

Michele Freeman: Yes, yes, of course, it’s one of my top ones for sure.

David Horsager: yeah love yours.

David Horsager: One thing left to do one one hope you have for the future.

Michele Freeman: continue to give i’m inspired by giving and inspired by learning so I never want to stop learning from others, and I never want to stop being able to give to others.

David Horsager: Fantastic you have kept learning I watched that just your love for learning is contagious.

David Horsager: Well, one more question where can people find out about you, if you have a linkedin or something that go ahead.

Michele Freeman: I do have linkedin um I i’m Michele freeman with one l m ic H le freeman I use the only social media platform that I actually use continually is Twitter so i’m Mr freeman Vegas baby no just kidding just.


Michele Freeman: it’s em freeman Vegas.

David Horsager: Vegas that’ll be in the show notes, of course.

David Horsager: Yes, so well, it is the trusted leader show so last question who’s a leader you trust and why.

Michele Freeman: So this is a hard one because there’s many.

Michele Freeman: And i’m gonna I think i’m gonna give you one, but I think I might give you two even though you said I can’t Am I allowed to do that.

Of course.

Michele Freeman: So the first one i’m going to say, is my husband’s.

Michele Freeman: and obviously i’m in a relationship with him and if I was not trusting him I wouldn’t be in the relationship with him.

Michele Freeman: But I saw him at work he I met him at work, I know, one of the things I said I would never do right now, or the person that you work with.

Michele Freeman: met him at work and saw that he walked his talk, he was honest he might not have always said it, the way that you want it to hear it, but he you never had you never were blindsided you always knew what you were going to get.

Michele Freeman: He was very strategic he supported his people, he was there for his people he walked the talk, but he proved and and he led courageously.

Michele Freeman: And people followed him and people still to this day, say that they follow him, not because he’s my husband.

Michele Freeman: Because they give me examples of what took place when they’re giving me examples of laughter and enjoyment and there’ll be like yep and they’ll say exactly what he did and give me those examples so i’m going to say him as one.

Michele Freeman: And then i’m also going to say you I think you’ve been.

Michele Freeman: Really inspirational for me and my development i’m really grateful that our paths have blends it i’m grateful that you have inspired me personally and professionally i’m grateful to have been able to to learn from you.

Michele Freeman: and to be able to frame things simplistically and you demonstrate exactly what you speak of.

Michele Freeman: You don’t just say it you do it, you live it you’re vulnerable you express that and I think it’s something that’s very important, and you are an inspirational leader and a trusting leader and it’s, not just because you.

Michele Freeman: You teach it it’s because you live it, and so I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to be in the space with you and learn from you and continue to grow.

Michele Freeman: and realize that your eight pillars of trust are invaluable and I believe in the principles, not because you train them because they’re real.

Michele Freeman: They matter.

Thank you.

David Horsager: wow i’m going to end this show today.

Thank you, thank you, chief.

David Horsager: Well, I don’t have much else to say, but thank you to chief and thank you all for listening it’s been the trusted leader show until next time stay trusted.

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