Saturday, January 7, 2017

Focus Group Sets Agenda for Texas Police Chiefs

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Police Chiefs representing a wide variety of law enforcement agencies discuss topics for the next cycle of the TPCLS
Focus group for the Texas Police Chiefs Leadership Series

Police Chiefs representing a wide variety of law enforcement agencies in Texas met on the campus of Sam Houston State University January 4-5th to identify topics for the next biennial cycle of the Texas Police Chief Leadership Series.

“How we train is how we respond,” said Chief Yost Zakhary of the Woodway Public Safety Department. “Training is much greater than expanding oversight bodies, creating rules and passing legislation. This curriculum outlines training that is relevant and essential to the ever-changing culture of law enforcement."

Texas Police Chiefs are required to attend 40 hours of ongoing professional development at the 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 from Sept. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2019, will include sessions on officer mental health, mentoring and leadership, crisis communication and agency branding, retention and hiring, and implicit bias.

“Texas is recognized nationally as being a leader in law enforcement and LEMIT remains dedicated to proactively enhancing the law enforcement profession,” said Donna Garcia, Director of Executive Development. While previous sessions have addressed crisis intervention for people with mental illness in the community, the new program will focus on how to support healthy officers through spousal support, wellness programs, and exercise. The program also will deliver recent initiatives in leadership and mentoring, including elements of succession planning for agencies.

Another session will focus on crisis communication and how to plan ahead for a disaster or emergency. The session will examine the broader picture of needs during crises and how to set up contacts, links, and resources to handle issues. The session also will tackle how to brand your agency and protect its reputation so it can withstand crises.

The program also will highlight practical information for hiring and retaining officers, from identifying potential markets for new recruits to understanding millennials. Focus group participants emphasized the importance of recruiting and retaining noble employees to fulfill the needs of their communities. “One of the most important responsibilities we are tasked with as law enforcement leaders is to pass on a professional and ethical mandate to the officers we hire to eventually replace us,” stated Jourdanton Police Chief Eric Kaiser.

Finally, Police Chiefs will be introduced to Implicit Bias, which is the inherent association that people make about different cultural, racial, and ethnic groups and the stereotypes associated with these groups. This was a key concept in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which offers recommendations on police practices that can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust.