In September 2011, when Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe became the Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MET), he faced significant challenges. The agency had had five commissioners in the previous seven years, a spate of discontinuity that had interfered with the development and pursuit of a coherent vision. More immediately, the MET was dealing with the aftermath of the London Riots, a multi-day event in August 2011 when thousands of people took to the streets following the death of a local resident who had been shot by a police officer. The riots—which involved looting, arson, and violence—resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 people and damaged the already tenuous relationship between law enforcement and the public. Making matters more difficult, the agency had to recover quickly because in less than one year, London would host the 2012 Olympics—an event that would place the city on the world’s biggest stage and test the MET’s security and event management capabilities.
Hogan-Howe not only helped London to navigate the Olympics without incident; five years into his tenure as commissioner, he has made London significantly safer while pursuing transformation at the MET. Murder is at its lowest level in decades, crime is down by more than 18 percent, and burglaries have fallen to the lowest point since 1973. More broadly, a sense of optimism has begun to permeate the force. As Hogan-Howe recently said, “If you had any doubt, if my officers had any doubt, then let’s be clear – the MET is a ‘can-do’ organization….” The commissioner has achieved this progress because, as he explained in his keynote address at the 2016 Public Safety Summit: Building Capacity and Legitimacy, he treated the challenges he faced at the start of his tenure as an opportunity to transform the agency. More specifically, he has employed five leadership techniques—vision, communication, team building, fiscal discipline, and partnerships and engagement—to develop a set of clear priorities for the MET and work with his staff to devise a strategy to achieve those goals and make London safer.