Focus Group Sets Agenda for Texas Police Chiefs Leadership Series

By Veronica Gonzalez Hoff/

Police chiefs representing a wide variety of law enforcement agencies in Texas met at Sam Houston State University on January 3rd and 4th to identify topics for the next biennial cycle of the Texas Police Chief Leadership Series.

More than 1,000 Texas Police Chiefs are required to attend 40 hours of ongoing professional development at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) every two years. LEMIT is the only training provider and the Texas Police Chief Leadership Series is the only course that police chiefs attend to fulfill their 40-hour TCOLE mandate.

The topics for TPCLS are identified by a focus group of police chiefs representing municipal, college, and school districts from across the state. The new cycle of training, which runs September 1, 2019 to August 31, 2021, will include sessions on officer mental health, mental health in the community, use of force, officer-involved shootings, police legitimacy, and officer physical health, among others discussed during the January focus group.

“I think it’s time we put these topics to the forefront,” said Boerne Police Chief Jim Kohler about discussing officer mental health. “We’ve added a police chaplain this year as an option for our officers and have utilized him. I think we’re headed on the right path.”

G. M. Cox, a veteran chief of police of 33 years and SHSU alumnus, facilitated the focus group, helping to bring focus to discussion among the 30 members. Cox brings 43 years of policing, managerial, and leadership experience to his role as facilitator and instructor for LEMIT.

“I saw my job as creating a frame for the discussion, keeping them on focus, and guiding the discussion, but not overly so. I didn’t want to interject my own goals and objectives,” he said. “It was an honor as a former chief of police, as well as an academic working with these subject experts.”

Donna Garcia, Director of Executive Development, believes “the success of a huge program like TPCLS, can only be accomplished when we (LEMIT) truly partner with our constituents, our police chiefs. Trying to meet the needs of 1,000 law enforcement executives with such diversity in size of agency, agency type, and locale across Texas can be overwhelming. Our team strives to create an environment where chiefs know they can discuss any topic and we will listen. Our ultimate goal is to create a balance of topics for the week that provide both leadership skills and excellence in policing.”

“I like that LEMIT asks chiefs what they think. From the get-go, they’ve been that kind of institution. Where they approach it differently. They consider chiefs as important people who also have opinions,” Cox said.

Reuben Puente, Assistant Director of the University of Texas System Police Department, echoed similar sentiments.

“I believe having LEMIT engaged in this type of information gathering is going to be critical to police chief training. We were able to get detailed information about what is contemporary and timely for police chiefs given the complex changing community dynamics,” he said.

The first TPCLS session of the new biennial cycle will be September 30 – October 4, 2019. For more information on sessions and registration, contact program coordinator Ian Bracewell at or at 936-294-4995.

Member of The Texas State University System