The best leaders are built from within an organization. That’s why the NOPD puts so much emphasis on providing officers with leadership development opportunities that give them the skills they need to succeed at every rank in the department.
This summer, the NOPD sent two of its top cops to an intensive training focused on the latest senior police executive management concepts and practices as well as discussions of the most challenging issues facing law enforcement today.
The Senior Management Institute for Police (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.
Deputy Chiefs Paul Noel and John Thomas each attended the training, which Noel described as a challenge to think beyond the badge.
“The class teaches you how to think differently – how to look at problems differently and how to analyze situations with a much broader view. It really gets you to think through problems and decisions from an executive’s perspective instead of from a police officer’s perspective,” said Noel.
The coursework is led by professors from such prestigious institutions as Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and topics include everything from general management theory and policy development to media relations and new policing strategies. Held at Boston University, NOPD was able to send Noel and Thomas to the three-week-long training, thanks to funding from the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation.
With the chance to compare the NOPD to departments across the country, Noel learned New Orleans is a national contender in police reform.
“I think NOPD is slowly being recognized on a national level as a leader in many of these things, whereas here we’re still viewed in a different mindset,” Noel said. “Locally we’re viewed as an agency that has problems and is known for not doing things right. When you get around other agencies and hear how they approach certain things, you realize how progressive and forward-thinking the New Orleans Police Department is. We do an excellent job interacting with the community and responding to protests and civil disobedience – it’s completely different than a lot of other places.”
Noel took the course in July and was surrounded by representatives from law enforcement agencies including Detroit, Nashville, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. His classmates offered a new perspective on how the NOPD is viewed by other police departments.
Commander John Thomas attended the course in June. Issues discussed included political management, organizational strategy, performance management, organizational change, leadership, managerial problem-solving, career planning, process analysis, and new policing strategies and innovations.
“They covered a lot of topics – de-escalation techniques, handling mental illness situations, training officers, diversity in hiring, retention, and how to handle media,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ classmates included representatives from the Arlington PD (TX), Oakland PD (CA), Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, and Chicago PD. He says NOPD is ahead of the curve on many of the issues that were discussed.
“Some of the departments were apprehensive about the de-escalation techniques. They felt it put officers at risk,” said Thomas. “NOPD has already embraced it and implemented it as part of the Academy‘s use of force lesson plan.”
SMIP training is offered through the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a police research and policy organization and a provider of management services, technical assistance, and executive-level education to support law enforcement agencies. The course attracts law enforcement personnel from across the country, including Chief Michael Harrison, who completed the training in 2012. The goal of SMIP is to provide participants with a clear understanding of general management theory, policy development, planning processes, and organizational behavior.
“The training defined things that I knew we were doing or that we needed to be doing, and the class helped define them and it put a process around them,” said Noel. “You could really see how the process is supposed to work. I was able to fine tune a lot of the management techniques and leadership techniques that I use, and a lot of these things will be able to be passed on to other people as well. So I won’t be the only one to benefit from it – the rest of the team will benefit from it as well.”
Deputy Superintendent John D. Thomas and Dallas County Sheriffs Assistant Chief Deputy Lupe Garza