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Back to Archives | Back to April 2010 Contents 

The Caruth Police Institute: A Comprehensive Approach to Staff and Leadership Development

By Robert C. Davis, Senior Social Research Analyst, RAND Corporation, Arlington, Virginia; and Robert W. Taylor, Executive Director, Caruth Police Institute, Dallas, Texas, Police Department

n December 4, 2008, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) began a unique crime-fighting partnership with two local universities whose resources are helping the department to develop more effective policing strategies. The University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Dallas, and DPD, with funding from the Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), developed the W.W. Caruth Jr. Police Institute in Dallas. This institute, which opened July 23, 2009, provides training for officers at all stages of their careers and serves as the research and problem-solving arm of the DPD, providing solutions to complex policing problems and developing effective crime-fighting strategies.

How Caruth Police Institute Began

The DPD has endured all of the challenges of a large, modern, metropolitan police agency, including changing demographics and rising national crime rates. Under Chief David Kunkle, the department has responded actively to its challenges by developing sophisticated crime-fighting strategies, integrating community policing in unique ways, and managing and maintaining a high level of accountability through computer statistics (CompStat). To capitalize on these and future innovations, the DPD sought a cadre of better-educated and more effective mid-level managers who could maintain and continuously improve these sophisticated systems.

In recognition of the improvements in the DPD, the CFT awarded a $5 million grant to the department for outfitting patrol cars with laptop computers for a paperless system. The foundation board then voted to contribute another $10 million to the DPD, this time to fund the long-term capacity of the department. In gifting the money, CFT hoped to make a transformative difference in the DPD and set a precedent for support of other municipal police agencies by local foundations.

The institute was named after W.W. Caruth Jr., a well-known philanthropist in Dallas and founder of the Caruth Foundation, currently managed by CFT. To help determine how best to invest the funds, CFT engaged the RAND Corporation to work with DPD to develop an implementation proposal.

The RAND effort began with a needs assessment through which information was gathered on DPD’s operations and capabilities, first from written sources and then from interviews with all 15 members of DPD’s command staff. After the command staff interviews, RAND convened nine focus groups to ascertain the opinions of staff at different levels within the DPD. The first six focus groups were with staff from the DPD’s patrol divisions. In addition, focus groups were held with representatives from the three major bureaus other than patrol: investigations, patrol support, and administrative support. Each session included 8 to 10 participants.

RAND Center on Quality Policing

The RAND Center on Quality Policing (CQP) provides research and analysis on contemporary police practice and policy. By determining what practices are most cost-effective and results oriented, the center’s work helps law enforcement agencies across the United States make better operational decisions and consistently perform at their best.

CQP has worked with many of the country’s largest departments confronting contemporary policing issues, including the following:

  • Recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce

  • Defining what it means to police effectively and measure performance

  • Improving police-community relations

  • Preventing racial profiling

  • Reducing community violence

  • Sharing intelligence within and across agencies

  • Choosing the safest nonlethal weapons

  • Protecting police from occupational injuries

The center’s research focuses on four interrelated areas—best practices, performance measurement, use of technology, and force planning—to deliver results that help departments solve problems. More information and recent reports are available at

RAND staff used computer software designed specifically for narrative interview and field notes to synthesize the large volume of qualitative data produced by interviews and focus groups. The most critical need defined through this process was developing human capital—a combination of training and staff development. RAND researchers believed that this concept contained the potential for long-term improvement through creating more effective leadership. They also argued that it could have an immediate impact on crime and safety if it included opportunities for lower level supervisors and rank-and-file officers to learn and apply more effective anti-crime strategies and tactics. RAND vetted this concept, which reflected the thinking of DPD leadership, through the city officials and CFT staff. Additionally, the concept addressed one of the key points of a 2004 Dallas Morning News series called “Dallas at the Tipping Point” in which effective management and leadership were identified as crucial to increasing public safety and securing the confidence of the community.1 The CFT board approved the concept in November 2007.

The Need for the Caruth Police Institute
"The most critical need defined through this process was developing human capital—a combination of training and staff development."

Recent history has demonstrated the importance of strong and effective police leadership. Policing experts recognize that officer conduct and integrity are heavily influenced by the tone set by senior leaders and the management skills of line supervisors.2 William Bratton’s experience as New York City’s police commissioner (popularized in his book, Turnaround) showed that effective leadership can make an enormous difference in how a police agency—even one as large as the 40,000-person New York City Police Department (NYPD)—functions and, ultimately, in the level of crime and disorder in the community. Bratton’s use of CompStat as a management tool to hold senior police executives accountable for the performance of their districts often has been credited for the dramatic decline in New York City crime and has been widely replicated in the United States and around the world.3

Effective leadership has become even more important in the fast-changing world of modern policing. It is no longer enough to learn the principles of policing early in one’s career; the explosion in technology and communication has made it essential that police managers keep current with new developments and that organizations have the flexibility to change accordingly. The past 30 years have ushered in new strategies and tactics in policing from community policing (which gives citizens influence in setting and attaining policing goals) to hot spots policing (which focuses law enforcement resources proactively on places where crimes are frequent) to evidence-based policing (which demands that police strategies and tactics be evaluated and adapted according to their proven effectiveness.4

As in most large departments, DPD officers did not pursue leadership training in a consistent way. The department provided training through the level of sergeant; however, once the staffer reached the rank of lieutenant, no in-house training programs existed to help staff develop effective leadership skills. Two senior DPD executives traveled each year to the Senior Management Institute for Police in Boston or the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Managers sometimes chose others to attend the Texas-based Management College of the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration (ILEA) or the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) Leadership Command College. However, there were no departmental incentives to attend, nor did the department assume the cost of the instruction. Furthermore, the two Texas programs have their respective strengths and deficiencies. The ILEA program is designed largely for managers from smaller departments and focuses more on management than on leadership development. The LEMIT program is geared more toward junior-level managers than senior police executives from large, urban police agencies.

Other programs were not any better. The in-house sergeant training program was considered weak and inadequate, and it was estimated that just 30 percent of lieutenants and above had received some sort of outside leadership training. Most of those opportunities went to assistant chiefs; however, although the programs for senior staff were of good quality, they were expensive or required extensive time away from Dallas.

Moreover, as a big-city department, DPD dealt with difficult problems in a complex environment. For example, rapidly changing demographics necessitated new community policing initiatives, revamped recruiting strategies, and reallocation of patrol resources.

Dallas also was in the process of developing its fusion center, which would track crime trends in real time, reallocate DPD resources in real time to where they were needed, and make information available on the history of locations to officers responding to calls for service. The fusion center provided an ideal laboratory to test new crime-fighting strategies. To deal with the complexities of modern major city policing and capitalize on new capabilities like the fusion center, DPD needed a problem-solving capability. The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is an environment rich in intellectual resources, with several major universities, and the headquarters of American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, 7-Eleven, Exxon-Mobil, J.C. Penney, Frito-Lay, EDS, Perot Systems, and other major Fortune 500 corporations. The DPD was in a perfect position to capitalize on the intellectual resources of the area and marshal the resources of two primary universities—University of North Texas and University of Texas at Dallas—to develop more effective policing strategies.

The Structure of the Caruth Police Institute

The Caruth Police Institute (CPI) was created to respond to two needs: staff leadership development and complex policing problems. The institute’s model is displayed in Figure 1. One component of CPI is aimed at leadership training and staff development, including components for enhanced academy training, training for mid-level supervisors, and courses for senior staff. The other component is aimed at enhancing DPD’s ability to solve problems, develop and test evidence-based approaches to crime fighting, and act as a national resource to promulgate new crime-fighting practices.

CPI aims to identify the best and the brightest in DPD personnel early in their careers and reinforce leadership skills through learning by doing. During the early stages of an individual’s career, a leadership portfolio is established at the institute. All facets of leadership (education, experience, self-development, and mentorship) are recorded, not unlike a college transcript. This allows the individual and the department to monitor progress, to identify leadership gaps, and to offer a systematic means of recording and evaluating accomplishments when individuals are considered for promotion. Students assume responsibility, with the help of mentors and faculty, for designing their own leadership and career paths, whether their interest is in administration or investigations.

At the recruit and sergeant levels, the institute supplements current DPD training programs. For recruits, the supplement emphasizes community policing and tactical crime fighting. For sergeants, the supplemental material stresses problem solving, applying research and best practices, and understanding police culture to lead effectively.

At the mid-level manager (lieutenant) level, courses include small business management, strategic planning, evidence-based and problem-solving approaches to policing, CompStat processes, and theories of leadership.

At the executive (assistant chief) level, the curriculum incorporates courses on understanding policing within the context of other city services, comparative approaches to policing in major metropolitan departments, organizational theory and change, and futures research (understanding how the context for policing will change over the coming years).

The mid- and senior-level programs include a core set of mandatory courses and a set of lengthier voluntary courses for university credit, through which participants are able to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice with a concentration in police administration. Demonstrated initiative in taking credit classes and performance in the classes become part of the basis for evaluating officers for promotion.

Complex Problem Solving

The institute makes available a variety of resources to solve complex problems for the Dallas Police Department.

First, senior DPD staff members taking courses through the institute are required to analyze and propose solutions to current problems facing the department, such as patrol deployment patterns, requirements and testing for promotions, and increasing the role of the community in crime prevention. The proposed solutions are presented to the chief for consideration. Mid-level courses include individual projects aimed at reducing specific crimes in local areas.

Second, institute faculty meet on a regular basis with DPD administrators to analyze current practices and make suggestions for improving effectiveness.

Third, the institute is developing strong ties with the local business community and enlisting the help of senior executives in providing seminars and advice on improving DPD operations.

Finally, the institute is creating visiting-police-executive in-residence and scholar in-residence programs that will bring top experts to Dallas who will provide DPD with the best national expertise on current policing issues.

The institute serves as a laboratory for developing new approaches to crime fighting and community policing and conducts evaluations of new DPD programs to determine their effect on crime, disorder, and citizen satisfaction. The emphasis on evaluation will help the department develop an evidence-based approach to policing based on knowledge of what works. The evaluations also provide feedback to the department on how to improve programs while still in their early stages.

The institute, in coordination with RAND staff, also oversees the development of sophisticated performance metrics for DPD. The measures enable DPD to better assess the effectiveness of crime-fighting efforts, gauge satisfaction of citizens in routine encounters with the police, monitor staff morale, and assess how the department is perceived by different segments of the community.

The information gained through problem solving, experimentation, and rigorous evaluation makes the institute a repository of best practices in policing. This information is to be distributed through an electronic library, through various types of publications, and through conferences hosted by CPI.

CPI represents a bold, new relationship between universities and a major police department that is characterized by the provision of cutting-edge research, education, and professional development services to the DPD. The institute promotes staff development by creating opportunities and incentives for staff of all levels to enhance their professional skills and pursue academic degrees in their field. Furthermore, the institute think tank is a forum for developing and testing new crime-fighting strategies and solutions to complex management problems through fostering a dialogue between DPD executives and academicians, members of the Dallas business community, and national experts. ?


1“Dallas at the Tipping Point,” Dallas Morning News, 2004,
2Robert C. Davis, Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, and Joel J. Miller, “Can Effective Policing Also Be Respectful? Two Examples in the South Bronx,” Police Quarterly 8, no. 2 (2005); 229–247.
3Eli B. Silverman, “CompStat’s Innovation,” in Police Innovation: Contrasting Perspectives, David Weisburd and Anthony A. Braga, eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 267–283.
4David Weisburd and Anthony A. Braga, “Introduction: Understanding Police Innovation,” in Police Innovation: Contrasting Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

The Dallas Police Department Fusion Center

The Dallas Police Department (DPD) Fusion Center, known as the Metropolitan Operations and Analytical Intelligence Center (MOSAIC), was born out of a partnership between faculty members in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of North Texas and members of the DPD. Three faculty members working with DPD officers wrote a successful large federal grant to develop the center. The faculty members had significant knowledge and expertise in the areas of intelligence analysis, international and domestic terrorism, crime analysis, and intelligence/fusion center development. This initial collaboration paved the way for the partnership embodied in the Caruth Police Institute (CPI) that brought university expertise to bear on law enforcement problems.

The idea of MOSAIC was to build a tactically-oriented center that serves two purposes:

  • The primary mission of MOSAIC is to prevent terrorist attacks within the Dallas Metroplex through the coordination and sharing of intelligence information among the various public safety organizations located in Dallas. MOSAIC melds massive quantities of raw information from varied databases with current intelligence information from agencies in the Dallas region to identify potential threats to high-value targets.

  • The second mission of MOSAIC is to act as a crime intelligence center that assists DPD in determining how to deploy resources most effectively. The center monitors real-time crime trends, communicates with area medical facilities and trauma units, and coordinates the allocation and deployment of multi-agency personnel resources. The focus is on detecting, analyzing, and preventing crime.

Please cite as:

Robert C. Davis and Robert W. Taylor, "The Caruth Police Institute: A Comprehensive Approach to Staff and Leadership Development," The Police Chief 77 (April 2010): 42–48, (insert access date).



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVII, no. 4, April 2010. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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