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Back to Archives | Back to January 2008 Contents 

State Associations of Chiefs of Police Partner to Provide Mentoring Resources for New Chiefs

By the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Tallahassee; Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Duluth; and Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Springfield

he mission of a state association of chiefs of police is to serve its members by promoting law enforcement executive professional development through providing innovative services, training, and camaraderie. It is the intention of each state association that the services it provides will afford all its member chiefs an increased level of police professionalism and a support network to achieve their goals.

Many state associations have found it beneficial to support their members and further fulfill their mission by creating collaborative partnerships to provide resources. One partnership several state associations have established is with the IACP New Police Chief Mentoring Project (hereafter referred to as the IACP Mentoring Project). This partnership has provided the participating state associations with the opportunity to provide practical professional development to new and experienced chiefs through a formalized mentoring program.

Partnering with an international association that has a program with specific resources available throughout the United States is an invaluable opportunity for any state association. To detail further how this type of collaboration works and how it benefits state association member chiefs, three associations partnering with the IACP Mentoring Project are presented as examples. Each of these state associations has made a conscious decision to provide mentoring resources to its members, though ultimately all three seek outcomes that are specific to their individual members’ needs. To this point, each has reached a different phase of the partnership.

IACP New Police Chief Mentoring Project

The IACP New Police Chief Mentoring Project, an integral component of the Smaller Police Department Technical Assistance Program, was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2004. The Mentoring Project serves chiefs from smaller police departments—those with 25 or fewer sworn officers or serving a population of 25,000 or fewer.

This national project matches newer chiefs with experienced chiefs from agencies of similar size to learn how they achieved success and resolved similar problems. The formal mentoring period lasts three months, during which time the new chief and mentor establish goals, develop specific plans, and share tangible resources.

New chiefs must meet the following requirements to participate:

  • They must have become chiefs in their current position within the past three years.

  • Their department must have 25 or fewer sworn officers or serve a population of 25,000 or fewer.

  • They must be willing to make at least a three-month commitment to be mentored (one to two hours per week in the beginning).

Mentor chiefs must meet these participation requirements:

  • They must have served as a chief of a “smaller” department for at least five years (if retired, they must have served within the past five years).

  • They must be knowledgeable about department policies, procedures, and contemporary policing practices.

  • They must be willing to make at least a three-month commitment to mentor a new chief (one to two hours per week in the beginning).

  • They must be “qualified” as a mentor through the IACP Mentoring Project screening process.

All participants receive a copy of the Police Chiefs Desk Reference as a written resource to assist them throughout the mentoring process.

The IACP Mentoring Project promotes a mutually beneficial relationship. New chiefs gain access to someone with relevant experience to offer advice and in whom they can confide. Their likelihood for success and longevity is increased, and they receive assistance with setting their goals. They learn how to avoid pitfalls through real-life examples. Through their own achievements, they can become more confident in their abilities.

Mentors benefit through their opportunity to strengthen the law enforcement community. They get the chance to share personal knowledge of departmental policies and procedures as well as contemporary policing practices with younger members of their profession; in doing so, they find opportunities for their own professional growth.

More information about the IACP New Police Chief Mentoring Project is available at

Ill - Seal
Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police

Historically, in Illinois, there has not been a statewide mentoring initiative; however, highly localized mentoring takes place on an informal basis. When new chiefs come into their positions they are frequently contacted by a regional or county chiefs’ association representative; this may result in an arrangement for informal mentoring.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police has recently made a deliberate decision and firm commitment to proceed with formalizing a mentoring program, which will be a statewide, focused program. The mentoring program will serve as a supplement to the existing system for training and familiarizing newly appointed police chiefs. Currently, the Illinois association, along with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, provides training in the form of classroom presentations and group discussions that take place over the course of several days; the inclusion of a mentoring component to this orientation would provide more hands-on and ongoing training and resources.

The Illinois association recognizes that the introduction of a formal police chief mentoring program will provide new chiefs with the opportunity to share relevant common situations and possible resolutions in a structured environment, as well as the ability to confer with seasoned chiefs who have had the opportunity to work within the system and sort out the day-to-day executive, administrative, and operational complexities.

With over 1,000 law enforcement agencies in the state of Illinois, of varying sizes and disparate locations, with varying sworn officer and population numbers, the Illinois association needs a mentoring program that is robust and can adequately meet the specific needs of many diverse agencies. With this intent firm in hand, the Illinois association is in the early stages of partnering with the IACP Mentoring Project.

The IACP Mentoring Project is providing the Illinois association with a sound, ground-level platform to launch its overall program, based on the U.S. nationwide mentoring model. This collaboration is still in the developmental phase; however, it is clear that the Illinois association will be able to utilize existing resources to modify the program to best meet the needs of its members while working within its available resource infrastructure.

The IACP Mentoring Project, designed to render leadership development and policy guidance to new chiefs, is anchored through the dissemination of the Police Chiefs Desk Reference (PCDR).1 The Illinois association has formed a partnership with the Mentoring Project to provide this resource to chiefs in Illinois. The PCDR has become an integral part of the Illinois “indoctrination” program for newly appointed chiefs. The IACP Mentoring Project, coupled with the PCDR, has provided the Illinois association a strong base to deliver services to its members. Additionally, the Illinois association is currently producing its own tangible mentoring resource: an Illinois state-specific resource chapter to be included in the PCDR.

FL - Shield
Florida Police Chiefs Association

The Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) had been seeking opportunities to provide an enhanced service for its members and also wanted to tap the valuable resources of its experienced police leaders. Based on feedback from its members, the Florida association decided that it would augment its current training and services to new police chiefs with a mentoring program for any new chief from any agency of any size in the state. The IACP Mentoring Project model is an ideal supplement to the Florida association’s existing initiatives to assist new police chiefs in the state of Florida, which includes a “future chiefs seminar” held annually.

Tapping into the vast resources of the more than 300 police chiefs across the state and using the existing expertise of experienced chiefs to provide practical and applicable advice when needed was a good fit to the existing theoretical training provided for new chiefs. The Florida association also provides an extensive network of idea exchanges across the state, and the mentorship program rounds out the resources the association offers to its constituents.

The Florida association is the fourth-largest state police chiefs association in the United States and serves city police departments, college and university police, and private business and security firms, as well as federal, state, and county law enforcement agencies, representing every region of the state. Whereas the IACP Mentoring Project serves agencies that have 25 or fewer sworn officers or a population of 25,000 or fewer, the Florida association has a much broader membership; it quickly recognized that it would have to tailor the program to serve all of its constituents. In particular, there have been requests across Florida to tap into the resources of larger agencies whose chiefs are also interested in mentoring. The Florida association is currently in the process of working with the IACP Mentoring Project to modify the U.S. national model and enable its program to make use of that additional resource. The Florida association has also recognized the valuable resource of its retired police chiefs and is actively engaging them as it continues to develop its mentoring program.

The Florida association, in conjunction with the IACP Mentoring Project, conducted a training class for prospective mentors at its 2007 summer conference and has now certified its first cadre of mentors available to be matched with new chiefs. As the Florida mentoring program takes shape and begins to make its first mentor matches, the association is building a history for its program and is learning how to improve the nationwide model to work for them. The Florida association has discovered that an easy and effective way to reach out to new chiefs and prospective mentors is to send out frequent e-mail information blasts targeted to each specific group (new chiefs and experienced chiefs) about this emerging, formalized opportunity.

The Florida association initiated the mentoring program by completing the Florida state-specific resource chapter for inclusion in the PCDR in mid-2007. This written mentoring resource has been made available on the Florida association’s Web site and the IACP Mentoring Project Web site to download at no cost.2 The Florida association provided hard copies of both the PCDR and the Florida PCDR chapter at the next training it offered after completing and distributing the latter; the value of these publications was quickly apparent, as chiefs from across the state, new and experienced, clamored for their own copy.

In the Florida association’s experience, the effects of the copromotional opportunity with the IACP Mentoring Project have benefited all participants, helped the association to provide a better service to its members, and more effectively utilized its existing resources in the state of Florida.

GA Shield
Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police

The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP) has been a longtime partner of the IACP Mentoring Project, as it recognized early on that new–police chief mentoring was of value to its members and wanted to provide this resource to them.

An experienced chief who was a member of the Georgia association’s executive board had been serving as a mentor in the IACP Mentoring Project at the national level. Recognizing the potential of this program, he advocated bringing a formalized program to Georgia at the state level. The Georgia association formed a mentoring committee to explore how best to implement and organize a statewide mentoring program.

It quickly became clear to the mentoring committee that it would behoove the association to partner with another association, one with an existing model and resources that it could adapt to its own uses. The Georgia association worked with the IACP Mentoring Project to determine how the model would work, relying on the mentoring committee to make decisions about how it wanted the program to function. This partnership established the validity and credibility of the program and indicated to the participating chiefs its effectiveness.

The Georgia association mentoring committee was able to use the national mentoring model as a template, but it also made important distinctions to fit the state’s own needs. For instance, the national model requires that a chief have a minimum of five years’ experience to qualify as a mentor; the Georgia association modified this requirement to allow shorter-tenured chiefs to be mentors as well. Georgia has an annual turnover rate of approximately 10 percent for police chiefs; therefore, it was vital that the program be opened up to all qualified chiefs, so that there would be enough available mentors to sustain the program.

To help ensure that the less experienced mentors were qualified and prepared for their responsibilities as mentors, the IACP Mentoring Project coordinated with the Georgia association to provide training and orientation to the first group of eligible mentors as their program began. Eventually, the Georgia association decided that it would uphold the standard of qualifying all of its mentors, and the IACP Mentoring Project worked with the association to facilitate a “train the trainer” session.

With the support of the IACP Mentoring Project, the Georgia association mentoring committee developed an effective marketing plan to spread the word about this new resource to recruit potential mentors and new chiefs, including sending a personalized invitation to new chiefs when they joined the Georgia association and giving presentations at its new-chief training school.

Although the IACP Mentoring Project helped facilitate the administration of the Georgia mentoring program during the initial planning and piloting, management of the program was ultimately handed over to the Georgia association itself. The resources available to the Georgia association allowed its training manager to assume oversight of the mentoring program.

Like many of the state associations that later partnered with the IACP Mentoring Project, the Georgia association jumpstarted its progress toward establishing its own mentoring program by completing the Georgia resource chapter for the PCDR. This written resource continues to be available online to all members of law enforcement in the state of Georgia.3

The Georgia association has been a leader in establishing a mentoring program that meets its needs and over which it has claimed ownership. It receives ongoing support from the IACP Mentoring Project, which the association views as essential to continuing its program and serving as a bridge between other associations and itself. All state chiefs associations are encouraged to learn from one another, and the IACP Mentoring Project has been a reliable partner in facilitating this endeavor for the Georgia association.

Final Thoughts

As demonstrated by the experiences of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, which is in the early stages of partnership; the Florida Police Chiefs Association, which has begun its partnership in earnest; and the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, which enjoys a long-established partnership, collaborating with a reputable association in possession of a proven model is an option worth pursuing. This type of collaboration is an opportunity for state chiefs associations to fulfill their missions further by avidly participating in the process of training and preparing new chiefs as well as providing a higher standard for entry of new chiefs to the ranks of their respective organizations, while utilizing and reinvigorating the skills of more seasoned chiefs.

Any resource that enhances the ability of new chiefs to perform their job effectively is beneficial to the members of state associations. By using the tried and true resource of the IACP Mentoring Project in conjunction with the local state association, the resources made available to new chiefs are greatly enhanced. New chiefs can assume their position already well prepared and can be assured that they will make fewer missteps, as they can use practical guidance to enhance theoretical training.

It is important for associations to establish a mentoring committee when they are beginning to consider providing a mentoring program and to discuss with the IACP Mentoring Project the challenges in their state and how the IACP can help. The support of and resources available through the IACP Mentoring Project are invaluable if a state association is seriously committed to establishing this type of program in their state. It can be extremely challenging to start a program from scratch, and each state association can modify the program to meet its own needs and available resources.

Partnerships, such as those with the IACP Mentoring Project, add value and structure to new and existing state-specific mentoring programs. Another state association that has worked with the IACP Mentoring Project, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, offers this valuable advice: “This kind of collaboration can offer the advantages of providing an association with a national perspective and expanded resources as well as a road map to follow in providing the valuable service of mentoring to new chiefs, without losing the state-specific identity of the mentoring process.” ¦


1International Association of Chiefs of Police, Smaller Police Department Technical Assistance Program/New Police Chief Mentoring Project, Police Chiefs Desk Reference: A Guide for Newly Appointed Police Leaders, November 2004, (accessed November 27, 2007). The second edition of the PCDR is scheduled for publication in 2008.
2The Florida chapter can be accessed at (accessed November 27, 2007).
3The Georgia chapter can be accessed at (accessed November 27, 2007).

Written Resources Supplement New Chief Mentoring
By the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Springfield; and New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, West Trenton

Mentoring for new chiefs is an extremely valuable professional development tool, but equally important is providing a written resource or toolkit on which new chiefs can rely. One of the major supporting materials provided by the IACP New Police Chief Mentoring Project is the Police Chiefs Desk Reference: A Guide for Newly Appointed Police Leaders (PCDR) to augment the formalized mentoring project. Each participant in the IACP Mentoring Project, both new chief and mentor, receives a copy of this resource as a supplement to the direct one-on-one interaction of the mentoring relationship.

Several state associations of chiefs of police have chosen to produce a supplemental chapter for the broader PCDR resource that has information relevant to chiefs from their specific state and is available to all chiefs in their state. The type of information that each state association includes in its written resource is at its discretion but often includes the following:
• State association membership (mission, structure, membership application, and so on)
• Association contact information
• Training requirements/opportunities
• Legal and procedural issues
• Lists of state funding sources
• Reference information

The PCDR allows each state the latitude to tailor the content of the resource to encompass the executive, administrative, and operational complexities relevant to that state. Additionally, the fundamental concepts covered in the book provide chiefs with a broad overview of their duties and responsibilities.

Through a written resource like the state-specific PCDR chapter, state associations are able to put the programs and services that they provide into the context of other opportunities that are available locally for police chiefs. It also puts an association’s entire catalog of programs, services, and resources at the fingertips of new chiefs in a manual that they are sure to have on their desk.

Samples of state-specific resource chapters to supplement mentoring programs are available at



From The Police Chief, vol. 75, no. 1, January 2008. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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