President’s Message: The IACP Center for Police Leadership

One of the central responsibilities of the 21st-century police executive—and a critical prerequisite to organizational success—is leadership development. It is vital that we, as law enforcement executives, take an active role in ensuring that our organizations have programs in place that systematically develop leaders so our organizations have leadership in depth and are continuously preparing leaders for the future.

This is a critical need because failure to institute a leadership development system can result in a lack of teamwork, operational inefficiency, and mistrust between the public and law enforcement officers. It can also result in misuse of power, heightened stress levels, and ethics violations.

Unfortunately, the paucity of leadership development materials designed specifically for the unique needs of the law enforcement profession and the absence of a comprehensive model for leadership development in a police agency have, in the past, made it extremely difficult for law enforcement executives to learn the best ways to develop and implement a leadership development system in their agencies.

In order to provide law enforcement executives with the tools necessary to implement a leadership development system, the IACP, through a grant from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), has designed and is currently testing a comprehensive leadership development model for law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The IACP model reflects documented best practices in the public and private sectors, the military, and the justice system. It is rooted in community oriented policing theory and addresses leadership as an agency-wide concept reaching all ranks and positions. In recognition of the diversity of police agencies and the communities they serve, the model is designed to be adaptable to an agency’s individual mission and philosophy. Even though the model is flexible, it has at its foundation a set of core values that reflect the nature of our profession—values such as service, dignity and respect for others, honor, integrity, courage, loyalty, and duty.

The distinguishing feature of the IACP model is its focus on the systematic development of leaders at all levels of an organization—the concept of “every officer a leader.” A police organization can no longer rely on a single leader or a small group of leaders. In order to develop leaders, law enforcement executives must first create a culture in their organizations that is supportive of dispersed leadership. This means establishing expectations that officers will take leadership actions at their level of responsibility, and it means providing training, support, and rewards to those who do.

Working from this model, the IACP has recently completed two leadership development courses, published two Leadership in Police Organizations training bulletins, created an IACP reading list on leadership and leadership development, and held one train-the-trainer course in police leadership development.
I believe that the development of the model and subsequent actions represent a good start for our leadership initiative, but only a start. We must ensure that leadership development remains a continuing priority for the IACP and the law enforcement profession as a whole. That is why the major focus of my presidency will be to establish the Center for Police Leadership at the IACP. Initially, the center will be funded by the IACP Foundation and support from the COPS office. Eventually, the center would become self-sufficient, operating from the revenue generated by its training course materials.

The center will be an institution in the IACP dedicated to assisting police chiefs and their agencies in their efforts to promote leadership at all levels. It will serve as a central training and resource point for law enforcement agencies around the world, providing on-site training and technical assistance and developing police leadership publications of both an academic and practical nature. It is the IACP’s goal, through the work of the center, to provide quality leadership training at a reasonable price and to provide some form of leadership-oriented information to police agencies in the United States and member agencies abroad.

As you can see, the IACP is committed to ensuring the success of this critically important program. We are confident the Leadership Development Initiative and the Center for Police Leadership will play a critical role in the ability of all law enforcement agencies to establish effective programs that will develop the next generation of law enforcement leaders. We must always remember that our success as law enforcement leaders will be determined not only by how we manage our departments today but also by how we have prepared our departments to meet the challenges of tomorrow.