The state mandated, biennial training is a 40 hour management and leadership course that is specifically designed to assist police administrators in developing their leadership skills and to help them recognize those factors that impact the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies. A representative panel of Police Chiefs from municipal departments, school and college campus police, and special districts assemble before each training cycle to determine the agenda of critical or emerging issues that will be addressed.
Among the topics that will be discussed in the upcoming cycle, which runs from September 2013 to August 2015, are Health and Wellness; Fusion Centers; Leadership, Legitimacy and Public Confidence; Social Media; and Crisis Events. That curriculum will be developed by LEMIT over the next several months, and nationally recognized experts will be identified to provide the highest caliber of instruction available.
“The Texas Police Chief Leadership Series sets the standards for the rest of the nation in training,” said Donna Garcia, program coordinator for the Chief’s programs at LEMIT. “A lot of states look to us to see the issues that need to be addressed. We train 1,000 Texas Police Chiefs every two years.”
During the two day planning session, 31 Police Chiefs identified specific issues that need to be addressed at training. For Health and Wellness, chiefs wanted programs to provide support for themselves and their officers through peer support groups or employee assistance programs. Of particular concern are the issues surrounding suicides by police officers and how to recognize the signs so they can be prevented and to identify legal and ethical issues that arise during these cases.
Police Chiefs also would like assistance to deal with crisis events, such as police shootings, active shooter events, police suicide or other high profile cases. These sessions would include not only how do deal with victims and families, but also the media and legal aspects of the event.
A Department of Homeland Security Fusion CenterChiefs also want to learn more about Fusion Centers, particularly in their roles with terrorism and human trafficking. Fusion Centers, set up through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, serve as focal points within state and urban areas for the receipt, analysis, gathering ad sharing of threat-related information between the federal government and state, local and private sector partners. In Texas, the state has a Fusion Center, as well as Austin, Houston, El Paso, Dallas, San Antonio, and North Central (McKinney).
The use of social media by police is also a hot topic. In addition to finding out about the current and future trends of the digital platforms, it also is important to understand the legal ramifications for use of these media sources. Finally, some police are being tracked and threatened through these avenues, and police chiefs need to know how to respond to this growing problem.
Leadership skills are always the cornerstone of the series and this year’s trainings will focus on several critical areas for support. Among these are recruiting and retention; legitimacy and public confidence; ethics; and power and politics.
The focus group meeting was led by Dr. William Wells of Sam Houston State University College of Criminal Justice, who serves as the Research Director at LEMIT. Dr. Wells gathered information from prominent police training agencies across the nation to help identify some of the issues facing the profession.