To help prepare top managers for the challenges facing today’s agencies, The Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) recently completed a five-day session for command staff at police departments, school and college police, and sheriffs’ offices.
The Command Staff Leadership Series grew out of professional development programs for Police Chief and allow the second in command at law enforcement agencies to be exposed to the same critical issues as their leaders. Among the topics covered were officer fitness, body worn cameras, legal updates, procedural justice and community responsibility, Blue Courage, and how to deal with difficult employees.
“I think this allows the second in command and the chief to be on the same page,” said Program Coordinator Mikal Greer. “They are able to respond and to go back and work on the same issues.”
One of the key topics addressed during this two-year cycle is Officer Fitness. The Texas Department of Public Safety recently changed its fitness and wellness protocol for new recruits and existing officers, requiring them to meet fitness standards throughout their careers. Lt. Greg Davis of the DPS Fitness and Wellness Unit discussed the need to refocus effort from one-time testing to healthy lifestyles for all law enforcement officers.
“The key to good health and fitness lies in lifestyle,” said Lt. Davis. “There is not a great deal that others can do to improve an officer’s level of health and fitness. Each officer has an individual responsibility to maintain a level of fitness that permits him/her to carry out job responsibilities and safely handle any new situation.”
A state law passed in 2007 requires law enforcement agencies to adopt a physical fitness program and standards officers must meet. As a result of the law, the DPS changed its physical fitness program for recruits and troopers to align better with what officers face on a daily basis. As a result of the new program, DPS recruits are graduating the academy at near-Olympic caliber conditioning, and injuries on the job have been reduced. The DPS is now training other departments in the new system, which also include Fitness Improvement Plans for existing officers based on gender and age.
In addition to fitness, command staff got an overview of lessons learned from Ferguson, Missouri, where a police shooting of a black man set off violence demonstration in the community and across the country; a primer on Blue Courage, a new philosophy of policing as guardians of the community; and an overview of the challenges and benefits of body-worn cameras.
For more information about the Command Staff Leadership Series, visit http://www.lemitonline.org/programs/csls/ or call Mikal Greer at (936) 294-3756.