Leaning into COVID - Operations Commander COVID19 - Queensland Police Service

March 29, 2021

CommandingInto COVID - Operations Commander COVID 19, Queensland Police Service - PartTwo

Theongoing Leadership Career Development within Queensland Police Service

Superintendentand District Officer, South Brisbane District.

First 100 days - set out clear priorities.
Rule of three:
  1. Review operations and delivering policing operations
  2. Ensuring appropriate governance and standards
  3. Internal and external engagement strategy I two key messages


  1. We police with the community - not to the community
  2. No excuse for treating a person poorly - we’re well trained, we’re professionally equipped


Leading a Multicultural district
  1. Staff needed to understand cultural differences and nuances within community 
  2. Districts Policing Board established with representation from the multicultural communities and they they had a voice in policing in the district


The Legacy
  1. Strong relations with our First Nations people
  2. When we are in troubling times - we can draw on the community and rely on the community to stand with us.


Building Trust
  1. What do we do well?
  2. What don’t we do well?
  3. What shouldn’t we be doing?


Wall of whiteboard - shared, open, transparent sharing of ideas

Leading by walking around with a coffee and those questions


5 strategies gathered along the journey to leadership
  1. Never stop learning - there’s no ‘one way’ to leadership - it is cumulative, gathering insights and tools along the     journey
  2. Clearly articulate your vision and goals - so people can come on the journey with you.
  3. Be able to articulate what the end state looks like goals. Use Storytelling or share the Vision. Leave the middle bit to your staff
  4. Find time to think - set time for strategic thinking aside as it’s one of the first things at risk of being lost in a busy new leadership role. But it’s critical, to stay in the strategic or executive space of leadership. 
  5. Understand risk, and be prepared to engage with it, and hold it.  Some of the better leaders have ability to not be paralysed by risk, not afraid of risk.  They understand it, they engage with it and they use it as a strength of where to focus their priority and time, at different time as the risk shifts.


Tapping into a trusted, ‘sounding board’ or support to address risks where it’s complex
  1. Very important to have a network around you - Mentors within organisation, colleagues, 
  2. Open to views of colleagues, subordinates and peers
  3. Mentors, exec coaches, 
  4. Outside perspectives 


OperationsCommander, COVID-19 Command, Queensland Police Service

  1. Most challenging leadership role in career
  2. Leverage relationships with relevant agencies and roles. Previously been the Chair of the State Disaster Coordination Group, 10 years of experience working within the State Disaster framework.
  3. Used this framework immediately and called a meeting of the state disaster coordination group comprising representatives from across all government agencies, and NGOs. 
  4. Shared up front with the group that “I don’t have any answers at this point - sharing the ownership
  5. At this early. Stage, based on intel coming in from other countries, we were planning on experiencing a large number of deaths within QPS
  6. Within 4 days of this meeting, to protect our indigenous and First Nations communities by way of shutting the down down, isolating them from outside visitors because of their vulnerabilities 
  7. Working with local government and communities to share messaging across the community, articulating why we were doing this and what we wanted to achieve.  
  8. Staying out of the ‘widgets’ and leaving those with strong relationships with the communities to put this I place.
  9. We have not had any outbreak of COVID in, our most vulnerable communities around Queensland.
  10. State disaster planning - looking at overseas impact of COVID
  • What’s our mortuary capacity?
  • What’s our hospital and services capacity?
  1. Clear mission emerged in that early stage:
  • Not to eradicate COVID, but to limit the impact of COVID on the Queensland community.

Shane’s two leadership roles in COVID.

  1. To lead COVID-19 within Queensland Police Service
  2. To lead COVID-19 right across Government - across the State Disaster Coordination framework
  • By limiting impact, we would allow our health  and hospital services to have the capacity to deliver the best outcome for the community 
  • This is a health led pandemic emergency - QPS StateDisaster Coordination role to support Health to allow the Health Department to focus on the health of Queenslanders.
  • Within 2 weeks of COVID being called, Shane was asked to setup hotel quarantine program in response to Federal government closing international borders - we needed to get people home.
  • In terms of leading - this was quite confronting - quite challenging.
  • We had never done this before, no playbook - again engaging across our network and relying on the expertise of our whole of government team and our own team internally.
  • We then had to shut road borders - for the first time Queensland in over 100 years.
  • Everyone of those strategies Shane was able to relay back to that one focus - Mitigating the impact of COVID to the community.


  1. Putting people in hotel quarantine - balancing human rights against the risk to the rest of the community.
  2. By closing borders around our First Nations vulnerable communities, this was about protecting those communities. 
  3. By putting up road borders, and domestic airport borders the strategy to reduce the impact of COVID ON THE COMMUNITY was served.
  • Continue to share through messaging that every strategy had to link back to minimising the impact of Covid on the community. 
  • Washing hands, using hand sanitiser, staying1.5 metres apart essential because if Covid came in through our borders, into our community these three things were our last line of defence.

4 keypoints Shane worked to as he progressed:

  • Limit the spread and impact of Covid on the community.
  • Ensuring community safety and confidence.
  • Rule of three:  QPS 3 C’s - Communicate, use compassion, compliance 
  • Message instilled across entire Queensland Police service community facing roles:  if in doubt, don’t go straight to ‘compliance’.  

Let’s communicate and educate why we are trying todo something. 

Let’s show compassion to our community - and this comes back to “policing with our community - and in Queensland the majority of the community have got behind QPS in this endeavour.

  • Sustained healthy and supported workforce
  • If the workforce wasn’t supported the risk of losing them is high.
  • My focus was messaging within the organisation, sharing the purpose: 
  • It was vital to have clear messaging so that our workforce felt they were strongly supported and we were focussed to keep them healthy, and their families, who they go home to each day.

QPS is positioning to respond to our future challenges. 

  1. COVID was not going to be a short-term challenge for our community.

With these in place I was able to say to staff that our end state in COVID would be:

That we have minimised the impact, 

That everyone going to hospital has a hospital and health service with capacity to deal with it,

That we will show compassion, we will communicate and use compliance as a last resort.

And that our front line was the most informed they could be so they could support the community through 

It’s been a challenging and rewarding time to achieve these outcome and the  wholeQueensland has achieved and worked together, as has the Australian community.

As a leader, you needs to engage with, and understand the ‘big P’ and ‘little P’ of politics.

COVID has changed our world, it’s a reset. We won’t return to the pre-Covid Era, and some of the shifts have been positive.  Some people have discovered a new work/life balance as a result of working from home. More Australians are participating in sporting activities and engaged in the community. 

In theQueensland Police Service we are looking at how we leverage our learnings and the way we’ve changed and leverage off this to continue our work with the community.