A two-year, $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow the University of New Haven, Yale University, and the New Haven Police Department to establish a "command college" leadership school.
The $350,000 grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), is to establish a training program for police supervisors that can become a national model. UNH will lead the program with Yale University faculty providing additional instruction and the New Haven Police Department serving as a laboratory for class-related field work to take place.
The program was announced at a press conference at the New Haven Police Department on December 18, 2012.
UNH’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences—which has earned a national reputation as one of the country’s leading and most comprehensive providers of advanced education in criminal justice, forensic science and fire sciences—will partner on the project with faculty at Yale Law School and with the New Haven Police Department.
"The Command College initiative has been a highly effective tool in the advancement of community policing and successful problem-solving," said Bernard Melekian, director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. "Too often, the teaching of partnership development and problem-solving strategies starts and stops at the trainer level. Effective implementation and support occurs when an organization’s leadership makes this a top priority."
The executive-level academy is designed to build a base of highly effective, educated leaders capable of partnering with research organizations and putting into practice research conducted at colleges around the nation.
The Command College is essential because policing is a constantly changing career field. “The evolution of policing in the United States has historically been of a non-centralized and largely unplanned nature,” said John DeCarlo, UNH associate professor of criminal justice, who will head the program. DeCarlo has 34 years of experience as a police officer and served as the chief of police in Branford, Conn. until 2011. “The situation often leads to excellent investigators being elevated to management roles with incomplete skill sets.”
In the United States, unlike Great Britain, for example, there are no national standards for hiring or promoting police officers into the position of chief of police. And, unlike other occupations, where academic study or professional licensure are prerequisites, there are no specific requirements for chiefs of police, said DeCarlo, who earned a Ph.D. in criminal justice from City University of New York Graduate Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“Much of the excellent community-oriented and problem-oriented policing research that has been conducted in recent years all over the country has not made it into common awareness by police practitioners in part because police chiefs often don’t have a full understanding of how to deploy the strategies,” he said. “There have been numerous research studies in policing over the last 50 years that have contained important findings that often have been under-utilized by police.”
New Haven Police Chief Dean M. Esserman said “the department is proud to partner with the University of New Haven, Yale University and the State of Connecticut to develop a ‘West Point’ for New Haven police supervisors. Leadership matters.”
Mario Gaboury, dean of UNH’s Lee College, notes that there are 600 police academies in the U.S. but only a handful that cater to the highest levels of the police organization. There are no uniform curricula or teaching strategies for command level training.
“One way to foster a community-oriented policing culture in police departments is to teach it consistently across all levels of the organization, including the command level,” Gaboury said. “Educating chiefs and deputy or assistant chiefs will reinforce change within entire police organizations.”
The command college, based on a two-week program held at UNH last summer, will initially service senior police leaders from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New England, with the curriculum based on an analysis of the gaps in the current training programs. Participants will be offered both UNH course credit and credit through the Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) credit system.
The program will emphasize community-oriented policing and train future chiefs on ways to get the community engaged as partners in the policing process, which helps reduce crime rates.
“It is no longer enough to react to crime,” DeCarlo said. “Teaching police executives to prevent crime while positively engaging community stakeholders is vital to the public safety.”
One goal of the program, he said, will be to help police executives apply police research to real problems. To make that possible, faculty from UNH’s criminal justice program and Yale’s School of Law, along with executives from the New Haven Police Department, will work together to develop the curriculum and attract national experts as faculty.
“With this new command college, we have a unique opportunity to infuse training of police executives with cutting edge theory in law and social science that promotes not only crime reduction but procedural justice and legitimacy of law as well,” said Tracey L. Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor at the Yale Law School. “It is our expectation that Connecticut will be a leader for the region and the nation in this arena.”
Enrollment in the program will begin in May, with online instruction beginning next summer.