Female Law Enforcement Executives Continue LIFE’s Lessons

Female officers stands in front of an American flag.

The Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT), through its Professional Development Program (PDP), is expanding opportunities for current and future female law enforcement executives through a series of one-day seminars, an annual conference, and a newsletter.

As a continuation and a complement to the Leadership Inventory for Female Executives (LIFE), LEMIT will kick off a new series on Nov. 12 with “Women Incident Commanders – Tales from the Hot Seat,” a seminar for females in law enforcement who may be assigned command in high-risk critical or catastrophic events. Other future sessions planned for 2013 include mentoring and coaching; succession planning; and technology.

Recent graduates from the LIFE program at LEMIT.
Recent graduates from the LIFE program at LEMIT.
In addition to the one-day development series, the PDP will host a three-day annual conference every July for women who have participated in the LIFE program. The conference will bring in speakers on relevant and emergent topics and allow for important networking opportunities among women in policing.

Recently, the graduates of the LIFE program created a newsletter, which they plan to produce three times a year. Called LIFE LINE, the electronic newsletter will allow females in law enforcement to share their stories and successes. LIFE LINE will also serve as a source of connection and inspiration for female leadership. The newsletter is hosted on the LEMIT web site at

“We all bonded so much in the session, we didn’t want to lose that connection,” said Captain Leslie A. Smith, the newsletter’s editor and an operations commander at the Little Elm Police Department. “We can offer another resource as well as inspiration and the courage to lead. It will include articles, ideas, refreshers and techniques and offer new things we’ve learned along the way.”

The Women Incident Commander session will help woman learn how to lead from women who have done it.

“There are still very few women in executive levels of law enforcement,” admitted Magdalena Denham, the PDP manager at LEMIT. “Hence, there are few women who have assumed incident command in crises; men have been fulfilling those roles for a long time, but women who lead differently, make decisions differently, and assess risk differently could benefit hugely from best practices of the trailblazers. By sharing best practices of successful female incident commanders, we want the future female commanders be ready and confident to take the hot seat challenge.”

A battalion of police in riot gear march down an abandoned street.The November session will focus on the Incident Command System (ICS) and the role of the Incident Commander. It is designed for female executive leaders who may have a potential role in critical incident management, leadership, or advisory capacity. Experienced female critical Incident Commanders, Command Staff, and General Staff Section Chiefs will share their best practices and challenges related to decision-making in crisis across an all-hazard incident approach spectrum. The predominant focus of the session will be on leading in public safety high-risk critical and catastrophic events through a lens of female leadership. National Incident Management System (NIMS) as well as international perspectives on crisis management will be discussed.

Photo of hurricane and highrise at the beach.Among the panelists will be the Detective Chief Super- intendent for the Metropolitan Police in London who was a borough commander during Tottenham riots as well as female commanders from recent natural disasters in Texas to include hurricanes and tornados.

"This seminar will be a wonderful opportunity to continue learning from women in executive level law enforcement positions,” said Dr. Rita Watkins, Executive Director of LEMIT. “As each incident is unique so is the way these law enforcement executives managed them. This is an event that creates a new level of professional development to the LIFE program."

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