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Back to Archives | Back to May 2009 Contents 

Ohio's Certified Law Enforcement Executive Program

By Michael T. Lazor, Chief of Police, Willowick, Ohio, Police Department

he Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Law Enforcement Foundation have created and endorsed educational initiatives in the advancement of the law enforcement profession, especially as it relates to supervision and administration. The Police Executive Leadership College (PELC), established in 1987, is a three-week course presenting key leadership topics. The course is based on the premise that leadership skills can be learned and that, given the opportunity for feedback and practice, executives can substantially improve their abilities to lead. Expanding from the leadership college, Ohio established the Local Professional Career Development program in 2002, the Supervisor Training and Education program in 2004, and the Law Enforcement Training Assessment program in 2004.

Over 1,000 law enforcement executives in Ohio have completed the PELC. In response to the positive feedback received from program participants, the Certified Law Enforcement Executive (CLEE) program was designed in 1996 as a graduate-level experience, extending leadership and management training to chiefs, sheriffs, state patrol command officers, and other high-ranking command officers. To date, 221 law enforcement professionals have attended this 14-month program.

CLEE: The Law Enforcement Leadership and Change Management Program

Governance: Oversight of CLEE is led by a 12-member executive board of active police chiefs. The executive board is the policy-setting body for CLEE. It maintains a system of decision-making checks and balances among the foundation administration, the board, and the constituency it serves.

The CLEE board meets on a quarterly basis to discuss ways to improve the program and to make changes to the curriculum. Nothing is taken for granted, as the board reviews the successes and problem areas to ensure the best training available for today’s law enforcement professionals. The CLEE program is constantly evolving and improving, recruiting the best instructors available to teach each of its modules.

Beyond governing CLEE, the executive board has the responsibility for reviewing, evaluating, and approving the student applications for the program.

Funding: Participants pay tuition as well as any costs associated with travel for the in-residence part of the program. However, this income source is not sufficient to hold the program; the remaining costs are subsidized by donations to the Law Enforcement Foundation.

Eligibility: CLEE is a formal leadership training program for police officers at the rank of sergeant and above who are at the executive level or who wish to progress to the executive level. Each applicant for CLEE must meet the minimum requirements and complete a detailed application.

To qualify for the CLEE program, participants must (1) be qualified as a law enforcement officer as defined by the Ohio Revised Code; (2) serve as an active and full-time officer at or above the rank of sergeant; and (3) be certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Council.

Application Process

Applying successfully to CLEE is an involved process. Each applicant must complete a career self-assessment consisting of four dimensions: experience, formal education, continuing education, and professional-related experience. In recording activities reflecting these dimensions, the applicant self-awards Career Index points and provides documentation supporting the self-assessment. In addition, the CLEE board both reviews each dimension and supporting documentation and awards points to arrive at the final assessment. Candidates for CLEE must have accumulated at least 501 Career Index points out of a possible 1,000 before they are eligible to be considered for acceptance, but it does not ensure admission to the program; only the best of the best are selected for participation.

Experience: The application awards points according to the number of years applicants have served in each rank and the level of responsibility they have had. Points are awarded for policy making, supervision, and holding a chief executive officer position. Supporting documentation includes Ohio Peace Officer Training Council certification and a current job description.

Formal Education: Points are also awarded according to level of formal education: from 80 for a high school diploma to 250 for a Ph.D. or J.D. A copy of the diploma for the highest degree received is required as supporting documentation; if the degree is not yet completed, then a transcript is needed. Distance education programs offered by online colleges and universities may be accepted for CLEE credit. The CLEE board assesses degree programs to ensure they are fully accredited by a recognized accrediting body prior to acceptance.

Continuing Education: Another dimension of the assessment includes participation in educational programs where the emphasis is on leadership or management principles and practices. Specific technical policing programs are not considered.

Professional-Related Experience: This dimension of the assessment rates six areas of experience: professional service, community service, speaking experience, publications, instructor experience, and honors received. Professional service includes committee assignments with professional associations and groups as well as positions held in these associations. For community service, the board looks at the applicants’ volunteer service with business or community organizations, educational institutions, or government agencies. Points are awarded for being a scheduled speaker on law enforcement–related topics before an assembled audience or as part of a radio or television presentation. Articles published on law enforcement topics appearing in journals, magazines, or newspapers are assessed as well; copies of the articles are required with the application. Also considered is the number of hours applicants served as scheduled instructors of courses in law enforcement programs. The final assessment area concerns individual awards applicants have received during their paid careers in the law enforcement profession, from their agencies, law enforcement associations, or allied associations.

Program Description

Once accepted, participants follow a course of self-study and take part in one day of in-residence study with an instructor for each of eight modules in the program. CLEE requires participants to spend very little time away from their agencies, but a significant amount of independent study and reading, as well as work on case studies, is required. Participants are evaluated on the eight different learning modules through written tests and/or case studies over a 14-month period and through an oral presentation at the conclusion of the course. Graduate credit can be arranged through Tiffin University.

Looking at the individual modules will give the readers some idea of the benefits of the program.

Ethics: The goal of the first module is to identify sound ethical principles on which to base decisions. A firm grasp of ethics becomes especially important in environments of differing public and cultural demands and ambiguity, as well as exceedingly rapid changes in technology and social issues that are constantly evolving.

Vision, Mission, and Guiding Principles: The next module concerns vision, mission, and guiding principles. Vision is defined as the general direction in which an organization is moving. Mission is the organization’s basic purpose. Values are the beliefs that guide the organization and the behavior of its employees. Without these key core principles in hand, a law enforcement agency cannot be effective. A key aspect of this module is establishing an organization’s mission statement. A mission statement should ultimately become the yardstick by which each agency measures its goals and objectives and should enable leadership to assess how these are met.

CLEE Canon of Ethics
As a graduate of the Certified Law Enforcement Executive program:
  • I will demonstrate ethical leadership
  • to advance the value and prestige of our agency to community leaders and citizens.
  • I will seek creative and innovative solutions to professional problems and challenges to best fulfill my duties and responsibilities as a law enforcement executive.
  • I will provide executive leadership to our agency and community utilizing the professional tools of organizational values, vision, mission, strategic planning, and exemplary ethical standards to advance its service and components status in the community.
  • I will manage change effectively and efficiently to best utilize all resources (personnel, financial, internal and external issues, and time) to improve the services provided by our agency for our community.
  • I will manage internal and external issues, interpersonal relations, and facilitate productive work teams within our agency and community to advance the quality of services provided.
  • I will manage the affairs of our agency to assure the highest integrity, trust, and conduct in all aspects of our professional and private lives.
  • I will continuously strive to improve the administrative and technical practices within my agency.
  • I will encourage all police officers to conduct themselves in accordance with the highest possible professional, legal, and ethical standards.
    Approved by CLEE Board,
    December 3, 2004

Human Resources and Team Facilitation: Human resources and team facilitation, the focuses of the third module, instill in participants the motivation to foster a spirit of teamwork at their agencies. The greatest asset of any organization is the people who are in it. No one individual can know or do everything necessary to operate an agency efficiently. A true leader’s role is to facilitate cooperation and to create a work environment that encourages individual thinking and initiative. Any leader who merely “manages” will ultimately have an organization of people who do only what they are told and who make the minimum effort necessary to complete their jobs. If employees are given a sense of purpose, they can often be seen taking on new tasks on their own and often giving more than what is normally asked or expected of them. In the end, this environment can make things easier on upper management. And for employees who may not be able to look forward to much in terms of advancement or promotion, it can give them a new sense of value.

Strategic Planning: William Kistner explained the importance of strategic planning in a June 2008 CLEE lecture:

Strategic planning is the process in which managers anticipate the challenges and opportunities that will affect the organization in the future, and develop programs to help bring about the proper balance between the department’s resources and its external environment.

Decisions that are made as part of the strategic planning process are often judgmental. Managers are only able to bring two basic types of information to bear on any decision. One, hard facts and data; two, subjective information based largely on the manager’s experience, judgment, and intuition. Typically, the more future oriented a decision, the less hard data is available as information input.

Thus, strategic planning is truly a unique management activity. It is bringing the future forward by systemically thinking about it. It is identifying what the organization would be like in the future and then taking the risk to make decisions that can effectively move the organization towards its desired destination.

Change Management: The fifth module introduces the concepts of change, innovation, and developing learning to facilitate survival in the coming years. Changes can be imposed by social, economic, and demographic factors. The module stresses the need for communication, initiative, and participation as it relates to securing and enhancing employee commitment to the change process. One aspect of change management is recognizing that commonly held axioms often need to be reshaped or redefined as they become obsolete.

Managing and Leading the External Environment: Most of the external forces that influence police executives and organizations are found within the local communities in which they reside. Such forces often comprise local political figures, the citizenry represented, local businesses, and volunteer groups. Other forces are outside the local community: the media, political figures at higher levels of government, and court systems, among others. These multiple influences combine to affect the performance of the police leadership. The module dealing with this aspect of leadership educates participants first in how to identify the key players both inside and outside the local community and the level of their influence and power both in the community and the police organization. Emphasis is then placed on how best to work with these varied forces.

Interpersonal Skills: Society is, by nature, interrelated and highly dependent on connections among individuals and groups. The advent of technology has in some respects dehumanized some aspects of today’s culture. E-mail, chat rooms, and instant and text messaging have allowed for communication in an impersonal and sometimes cold manner. The Interpersonal Relations module seeks to combat this trend and instills in police executives skills to become more effective communicators. The module identifies and refines verbal and nonverbal communication; voice tones and mannerisms; eye contact and attention responses; the concept of personal space; calming techniques; ego-defense reactions and conflict modes; mediation; some problem behaviors; open and closed questions; and using the “I” message effectively.

Police Resource Allocation and Budgeting: The considerations of police resource allocation and budgeting complete the CLEE program. Resource allocation has undergone significant changes in recent years, with a strong focus on staffing. Developing staffing plans involves elements of the external environment, labor relations, and other issues related to human resources. Other resource issues are explored, but it is the human resource that is of particular concern, including police response to incidents. Effective and efficient use of these resources leads to an overall improvement in the strategic and tactical management of any agency.

Capstone Project

To demonstrate participants’ competency with the elements and modules they have studied, all students complete an individualized PowerPoint capstone project, using the principles learned from the eight educational modules to resolve a situation or a problem area in their own agencies. These presentations will show how an effective law enforcement organization grows as a result of the work of enlightened and prepared law enforcement professionals.

As part of the capstone project, chiefs who have already completed the CLEE program are selected to serve as mentors to the individual students. This has been one of the most beneficial aspects to the program, as the students have an opportunity to learn from leaders who have successfully put the CLEE concepts to good use in their respective departments. The mentoring relationship reinforces these concepts as CLEE participants take back to their organizations and communities all the skills and knowledge they have gained from their CLEE sessions. This relationship helps to maximize the benefits of the capstone project, as participants see the real-life value in the concepts and skills they are learning.


Recertification is one aspect of the CLEE program that differentiates it from many other continuing education programs. While an active member of the law enforcement community, each CLEE graduate is expected to maintain a high level of continuing professional development as a police leader. To be recertified every three years, CLEE graduates maintain a record of various leadership qualities they have demonstrated in their police careers. These include participating in ongoing education and training; reading books selected from a list approved by the CLEE board; participating in public speaking engagements; serving in civic and community-based organizations; publishing papers or articles; and taking part in other defined and qualitative activities as police executives. Points are awarded for each accredited action; a minimum number of points is required to maintain the CLEE designation for another three-year period. This system of recertification encourages participants to seek opportunities for continuing education and to examine their roles in the organizations they lead and the communities they serve. After retiring from active police work, CLEE officers in good standing may apply to the CLEE board for Lifetime CLEE Status. ■   

Further Information
For more information, readers can contact Dr. Ray Miller, CLEE program director, at 614-761-9479, extension 221, or via e-mail at



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVI, no. 5, May 2009. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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