Darryl Albert, Commander of the NOPD Crime Lab, recently returned from a three-week course at Boston University offered by the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP).
He was one of 88 representatives of police departments from around the world who took the course, which focused on the latest senior police executive management concepts and practices. Albert’s classmates were from university police departments, transit systems and major metropolitan PDs like Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia and even Hong Kong.
SMIP brings together leading thinkers in corporate and public management to provide intensive training designed to give police managers the same quality of management education available to leaders in other public and private-sector endeavors. It also encourages discussions of the most challenging issues facing law enforcement today.
“The class offered me an opportunity to attend one of the best training courses in the country and learn about a cross-section of current issues that we’re focused on every day, as well as how to prepare for future issues,” said Albert. “The institutional knowledge is more valuable than anything.”
SMIP is part of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a law enforcement research and policy organization that provides of management services, technical assistance, and executive-level education to support law enforcement agencies. PERF helps improve the delivery of police services through the exercise of strong national leadership; public debate of police and criminal justice issues; and research and policy development.
The course covered best practices for law enforcement, policy review, and offered advice and recommendations via a demanding, fast-paced, reading-intensive program. There’s very little down time for participants, as the course requires independent and group study assignments both in-class, after class, and even during lunch.
“It was an intense course. There were 8-10 books they wanted you to read before you even got there,” said Albert. “There’s homework every night and every day at lunch you worked on group activities for the class.”
The class also heard first-hand from police departments in Dallas, San Bernardino and Columbine and Aurora, Colorado, about the agency-changing events they have experienced.
“They walked us through what happened, what went wrong and how they could do things better. Who knows who is next,” said Albert. “It’s not ‘if’, it’s when.”
Albert was surprised at the impression many of his fellow students had about New Orleans and its 21st century police department.
“A lot of them thought we were still down here floating on rafts (from Hurricane Katrina), but I found out that nobody else had EPIC (Ethical Policing Is Courageous) and they all wanted it. I’ve sent the program information to 88 different agencies. It’s the same with CIT (Crisis Intervention Team). Everybody wanted to see our program and what we’re doing. The professors know that NOPD has these programs but the other agencies didn’t know.”
Albert also fielded questions about Mardi Gras and how NOPD’s smaller police force handles crowd control for such a major event with so few problems. He touted the department’s Mounted Unit as well as the intensive training program that NOPD officers go through in order to make crowd control look so effortless.
His classmates didn’t know New Orleans was the first major city to have body-worn cameras (BWCs) across the board, or that the department has car cameras and TASER cameras.
“All of these major metropolitan police departments are asking us how we did it – NYPD, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago – they’re looking to us to see what we’ve done. The Consent Decree, which has been identified as one of the most comprehensive, has helped make us a cutting edge department.”
Albert said the coursework topic that resonated with him the most was the importance of listening.
“We have to understand everybody’s point of view so you need to listen first, then make decisions. You can’t just come in with a stern fist first. You have to take other people’s beliefs into account and to understand the culture as well as the policy and procedures.
“What we’re experiencing here in New Orleans is not unique – what’s happening here is happening in every other jurisdiction,” Albert added.
Albert was able to attend SMIP through funding provided by the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation.