Police Leadership in the 21st Century


Recommendations From The President’s First Leadership Conference

May 1999


"By the time you are reading this document, it is my hope that you will have moved away from the concept of your "job" as chief executive and that you will fully understand and endorse your "vocation" – your sacred calling – and your obligation to the importance of that calling."
— Jacquelyn Barrett

"Understanding the commitment necessary in order to serve successfully as a chief of police and the burning desire one must have to successfully serve."
— Sylvester Daughtry, Jr.

"Identify the leaders in your agency. Be willing to appeal to their idealism, remembering that the same ideals that brought you to the police service attracted them. Idealistic leaders at all levels are what will move your department forward."
— Edward Flynn

"Do all you can to convey trust in your employees. Generally, they are more aware, more committed, more caring, and have more to offer than most administrators recognize or are willing to admit."
— Sheldon Greenberg

"Leadership has two component parts, personal and organizational. Success, over time, demands knowledge of and commitment to both."
— Larry Hesser

"You have a duty and an obligation to speak out thoughtfully and forcefully on the issues that affect public safety in your community and your profession. You must be knowledgeable about the impact that child care, parenting, and after-school programs have on juvenile crime and how your organization can support these efforts. Community safety will be enhanced for the long term through prevention as much as by enforcement."
— Gil Kerlikowske

"Unimpeachable integrity is the greatest asset a police administrator can have. Without it your other qualifications and attributes are meaningless."
— Curtis McClung

"The future of police leadership cries for openness, vision, wisdom, compassion and men and women of goodwill. If you love public service, are willing to generously share your talents and time with the department and the community, value the dignity of others and decree a sense of purpose — answer the call."
— Bill Miller



I. The President’s Leadership Conference

II. The Contemporary Executive Role – A Consensus Model

III. Forces of Change

IV. Preparing for the Executive Role: Attributes and Developmental Requirements for Leadership

IV. Preparing for the Executive Role: Attributes and Developmental Requirements for Leadership

V. Sustaining The Executive Role: Managing the External Environment

VI. Sustaining the Executive Role: Managing the Internal Environment

VII. Building on the Accomplishments: A Second IACP President’s Conference

VIII. IACP Mandates

IX. Additional Observations on Leadership


Perhaps the biggest challenge facing police executives of the 21st century will be to develop police organizations that can effectively recognize, relate and assimilate the global shifts in culture, technology and information. Changing community expectations, workforce values, technological power, governmental arrangements, policing philosophies, and ethical standards are but a sample of the forces that must be understood and constructively managed by the current and incoming generation of chief executives. It is in this same environment that the first IACP President’s Leadership Conference was held. Carefully selected teams of nationally recognized and accomplished practitioners were brought together to examine the roles of the contemporary police executive, how those roles are changing, and how to successfully manage current and changing community and organizational environments to satisfy the objectives of the many and complex constituencies that must be served.

The Conference was structured to capture experienced-based observations and produce guidelines to enable current and aspiring chiefs to achieve and sustain success, today, and into the next century. Efforts were geared, in large measure, to producing a road map for those who seek to become police executives and producing tools to help those already in executive positions to be more successful and enhance their likelihood of survival. We believe we achieved our objective. At the same time, we are mindful that our work is but one step – one more step, in what must be a continuing concentration on leadership competencies, preparation, functioning and survival. As philosophical and organizational transformation, manifested as community policing, has dominated introspective examination for the past decade, leadership issues should drive our profession’s examination for the next decade or two.

Conference participants deliberated energetically, intensely, and in a distinct atmosphere of optimism. The collective leadership capacity of contemporary chief executives is regarded to be excellent, improvement requirements and potentials notwithstanding. Issues discussed and recommendations advanced were numerous and broad ranging. Retrospectively examined, the following are regarded to be among the most salient:

  • The profession is obligated to ensure the continuing presence of an abundant pool of candidates who possess the personal attributes, academic preparation, and formal training to meet the demands of 21st century leadership.
  • Competition for chief executive positions will increase among a younger and better educated generation of professionals.
  • Executive development education and training capacity must multiply to produce this pool.
  • Police executives must become more intensely involved in framing executive development curricula, especially with the premier national training institutions.
  • Forming and constantly reinforcing ethical values and behavior are paramount in leadership preparation and performance.
  • Communities, governments, and especially the workforce look increasingly to a chief for clarity and precision in setting forth a vision and mission for the department, and constructing a framework of shared values.
  • Chiefs are increasingly expected to conceptualize systemically—to define the role and place of policing and the police officer in society and the community.
  • Transition to participatory management seems irreversible. In the empowerment milieu of contemporary organizations, chiefs must work collaboratively with members of many hierarchical levels and stakeholder centers, especially to constructively effect change.
  • Mutual expectation guidelines, fashioned jointly by mayors, city managers, and chiefs are paramount for building and sustaining executive success and tenure.
  • In striving to prioritize customer service and satisfaction, traditional and unalterable obligations to victims and crime prevention and control must be diligently pursued and guarded.
  • Numerous and complex issues and the changing environment demand that 21st century police leaders bring special passion for the workplace – that they regard their obligations as a calling that requires total commitment – not just a job.

In a departure from the traditional view of a chief’s role and tenure aspirations, Conference participants recognized the emerging potential, need for, contribution, and acceptability of the "transition chief" – a comparatively "short tenure" executive to engineer painful and radical organizational transformation.

Conference participants called upon the IACP to serve as the professional umbrella for actions that must take place to ensure increasing and/or continuing success for the current generation of chiefs and to groom the next generation. They fashioned an agenda of action mandates for the IACP to pursue to support current and aspiring police executives:

  • Develop a Model New Chiefs Training Curriculum
  • Continue the Current Ethics Programming and Training
  • Lobby to Enhance the Service Capacity of Leading National Executive Development Programs
  • Lobby for Government-Funded Tuition Reimbursement Programs and Executive Development Fellowships
  • Accelerate Production and Dissemination of Leadership Articles and Publications
  • Create a Network of Mentors
  • Build a Leadership Issues Databank
  • Host More Mayor/Manager/Police Executive Workshops
  • Conduct Annual Leadership Surveys and Conferences
  • Provide Comprehensive Chiefs in Transition/Chiefs in Crisis Support Services.

Developing the "Every Officer Is a Leader" program should remain the highest priority.

The IACP fully intends to respond to the agenda set forth. We recognize, however, that as valuable as our future work may be, and that of many other fine organizations and scholars, the real work will take place within the law enforcement agencies of America and throughout the world. If one message emerged most clearly from Conference deliberation, it is that ensuring excellence in the 21st century leadership is the obligation of each and every current police executive. The true power is in your hands.

The idea for this work actually came to me as a result of my very first IACP Conference in New York City in 1978. I attended a training session taught by Chief Willie Bauer, Beaumont, Texas, where he gave a report on a study conducted by the IACP on what requirements should be for future police chiefs. I was so mesmerized by what he was saying that I took copious notes and seated myself in the front row. Needless to say that information had a profound impact on my career in law enforcement.

The purpose of this work is simple – to give those who aspire to be chiefs and those who are currently Police Executives some nuts and bolts – tools – benchmarks that if followed will enhance the likelihood of success in this great business we are in. We all should do what we can to make each other a success. When we do, we all win.

Bobby D. Moody
Chief of Police
Marietta, Georgia
Past President, IACP


Leadership Development remains at the center of IACP’s professional growth and development agenda. The Police Chief Executive Report, 1976, set forth 18 standards to improve methods to select police chief executives and to extend their retention periods to enable them to "increase the effectiveness and stability of police agencies." Today the tradition continues with the leadership development offerings of our Professional Training and Education Division, workshop offerings at IACP Annual Conferences, an annual leadership edition of the Police Chief, and, "Every Officer Is A Leader," a joint development effort by the IACP, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The first President’s Leadership Conference is the Association’s most recent effort. The Conference, inspired by Bobby D. Moody, who committed much of his presidency to leadership issues and development, brought law enforcement and other public service professionals together to develop courses of action to guide those who aspire to be police chiefs to achieve their goal and to help current chiefs lead their organizations successfully. The Conference is in keeping with an IACP Strategic Intent: "To advance programs to enhance the personal and professional growth and development of all law enforcement executives, and encourage their participation in and support for continuing education programs."

The Proceedings

The two day conference was held September, 1998, in a retreat setting at George Washington’s River Farm Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Participants concentrated on four dimensions of primary significance to 21st century police leadership:

  • The Changing Role of the Police Executive
  • Preparing for the Changing Role
  • Sustaining the Executive Role: Successfully Managing the External Environment
  • Sustaining the Executive Role: Successfully Managing the Internal Environment.

While surely not exhaustive, these concentrations embrace the core of the leadership enterprise and were believed to be most useful for meeting conference objectives.

Conference participants benefited measurably from the observations and recommendations of almost 50 chief police executives and city managers who completed a 36-item Pre-Conference Survey. The survey focused on the four dimensions of leadership examined at the Conference and a number of additional issues. Deliberations were also enriched by specially prepared papers and keynote presentations:

  • Larry M. Hesser, Chief of Police, Georgetown, TX: "Reflections on Leadership: What We Know and What We Don’t"
  • Terry J. Mangan, Management Science Unit, FBI Academy: "Reflections on Leadership and Executive Development Training"
  • Howard T. Prince II, Leadership Scholar and Trainer, Austin, TX: "Leadership in Police Organizations, Business, and the Military"
  • Ronald S. Neubauer, Chief of Police, St. Peters, MO: "Organizational Response to Chiefs in Crisis"
  • Sheldon Greenburg, Assistant Professor and Department Chair, School of Continuing Studies, Johns Hopkins University: "The Changing Role of the Chief Executive: Where We Are and Where We Need to Be"
  • Edward G. Rendell, Mayor, Philadelphia, PA: "Performance Expectations: What a Mayor Looks For"
  • Tom Muehlenbeck, City Manager, Plano, TX: "Performance Expectations: What a City Manager Looks For."

Conference managers employed IACP’s summit format to address the issues of priority concern. This format features a fast-paced agenda; self-organizing and self-managing work groups, tasked to produce conclusive observations and action-structured recommendations; and synthesis of work group products, presented in outline fashion. The format has proven its value for efficiently and effectively marshalling and consolidating the best thinking, collective experience, wisdom, and prescriptions of noted and successful practitioners in our profession.


Police and government leaders assembled at River Farm were:

  • Jacquelyn Barrett, Sheriff, Fulton County (GA)
  • Thomas A. Constantine, Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Sylvester Daughtry, Jr., Executive Director, CALEA
  • Edward A. Flynn, Chief of Police, Arlington County (VA)
  • Sheldon F. Greenberg, Chair, Department of Interdisciplinary Programs, Johns Hopkins University
  • Larry M. Hesser, Chief of Police, Georgetown (TX)
  • R. Gil Kerlikowske, Deputy Director of Support Services, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
  • Curtis E. McClung, Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police
  • William D. Miller, Chief of Police, Skokie (IL)
  • Bobby D. Moody, Chief of Police, Marietta (GA)
  • James T. Moore, Commissioner, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • Tom Muehlenbeck, City Manager, Plano (TX)
  • Ronald S. Neubauer, Chief of Police, St. Peters (MO)
  • Richard J. Pennington, Superintendent of Police, New Orleans (LA)
  • Howard Prince, Leadership Consultant, Austin (TX)
  • Edward G. Rendell, Mayor, Philadelphia (PA)
  • Charles E. Samarra, Chief of Police, Alexandria (VA)
  • Darrel Stephens, City Administrator, St. Petersburg (FL)
  • William K. Stover, Chief of Police (Retired), Arlington County (VA)
  • Arturo Venegas, Chief of Police, Sacramento (CA)
  • Mary Ann Viverette, Chief of Police, Gaithersburg (MD)
  • Richard Zappile, Deputy Mayor, Philadelphia (PA)

Pre-Conference Survey contributors were:

  • Sam Baca, Chief of Police, Lakeland (FL)
  • David Cameron, Chief of Police, Jackson (WY)
  • Bennie Click, Chief of Police, Dallas (TX)
  • Sylvester Daughtry, Jr., Executive Director, CALEA
  • Jan Deveny, Director of Public Safety, Mercer Island (WA)
  • Alana Ennis, Chief of Police, Burlington (VT)
  • John S. Farrell, Chief of Police, Prince Georges County (MD)
  • Patrick S. Fitzsimons, Chairman Emeritus, Major Cities Chiefs, Chief of Police (retired), Seattle (WA)
  • Edward A. Flynn, Chief of Police, Arlington County (VA)
  • Thomas Frazier, Commissioner of Police, Baltimore (MD)
  • James M. Gabbard, Chief of Police, Vero Beach (FL)
  • Terrance Gainer, Executive Assistant, Washington Metropolitan Police Department (DC)
  • Art Gann, Chief of Police (retired), Evansville (IN)
  • Gerald Galloway, Chief of Police, Southern Pines (FL)
  • Larry M. Hesser, Chief of Police, Georgetown (TX)
  • M. Wayne Huggins, Colonel, Virginia State Police
  • R. Gil Kerlikowske, Deputy Director of Support Services, Office of Community Oriented Policing
  • William A. Liquori, Chief of Police, Altamonte Springs (FL)
  • Terry J. Mangan, Management Science Unit, FBI Academy, Quantico (VA)
  • Ronald W. McBride, Chief of Police, Ashland (KY)
  • Curtis McClung, Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police
  • A. Lee McGehee, Director, Florida Department of Law Enforcement
  • William D. Miller, Chief of Police, Skokie (IL)
  • William H. Moulder, Chief of Police, Des Moines (IA)
  • Patrick Oliver, Chief of Police, Grandview Heights (OH)
  • Robert K. Olson, Chief of Police, Minneapolis (MN)
  • Ronald D. Palmer, Chief of Police, Tulsa (OK)
  • Richard J. Pennington, Superintendent of Police, New Orleans (LA)
  • Mary F. Rabadeau, Chief of Police, New Jersey Transit Police Department
  • Edward Reina, Jr., Chief of Police, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, Reno (NV)
  • Lee Reese, Chief of Police, Cleveland (TN)
  • Thomas W. Rice, Sr., Director, Department of Public Safety, Columbus (OH)
  • Susan Riseling, Chief of Police, University of Wisconsin Police Department, Madison (WI)
  • Matt Rodriguez, Superintendent of Police (retired), Chicago (IL)
  • Charles E. Samarra, Chief of Police, Alexandria (VA)
  • William K. Stover, Chief of Police (retired), Arlington County (VA)
  • Arturo Venegas, Jr., Chief of Police, Sacramento (CA)
  • Mary Ann Viverette, Chief of Police, Gaithersburg (MD)
  • Richard A. Bowers, City Manager, Scottsdale (AZ)
  • Donald D. Crawford, City Manager, Streator (IL)
  • James C. Hankla, City Manager, Long Beach (CA)
  • Lloyd V. Harrell, City Manager, Chandler (AZ)
  • Jon Kinsey, Mayor, Chattanooga (TN)
  • Matthew J. Kridler, City Manager, Springfield (OH)
  • Vola Lawson, City Manager, Alexandria (VA)
  • William J. McGill, Assistant City Administrator, Billings (MT)
  • Michael D. Mendenhall, Employment Manager, Omaha (NE)
  • Kathleen A. Millison, City Manager, Clovis (CA)
  • David R. Mora, City Manager, Salinas (CA)
  • Michael Puckett, City Manager, Sidney (OH)
  • Edward G. Rendell, Mayor, Philadelphia (PA)
  • Mark Watson, City Administrator, Billings (MT)

Today’s police executive must possess an extraordinary range of capacities. The complexity of the role is indicated by the following enumeration from Conference participants: Leader; Decision Maker; Confidant; Politician; Disciplinarian; Therapist; Mentor; Administrator; Taskmaster; Spokesperson; Community Leader; Educator; Change Agent; Facilitator; Partner; Negotiator; Role Model/Example; Steward; Student; Parent Figure; Visionary; Manager; Minister; Leadership Developer.

These responsibilities are fulfilled in service to the community, department, workforce, governing body, and the profession. Pre-Conference Survey respondents outlined scores of responsibilities. Those referenced with greatest frequency as "highest priority" may properly be regarded as the perceived core of the executive role, a model for contemporary leadership. A substantial degree of consensus characterized the relative positioning of priorities.

Responsibilities to the Community. Conference contributors cited the following cluster of duties and responsibilities as highest priority

  • communication
  • collaboration
  • partnership development
  • understanding of and responsiveness to needs.

Cited only somewhat less frequently were: efficient service; freedom from fear; improved quality of life; equal protection and service to community clienteles; integrity of the police agency; and trust building. Crime specific responsibilities mentioned with less frequency than the foregoing included: reduce crime; problem solve; provide safety and crime prevention education.

Responsibilities to the Governing Body. Demonstrating integrity, trust, truthfulness, candor, and commitment were referenced most prominently. Following closely were

  • supplying information and education on the needs and complexities of the department,
  • delivering quality public safety services with effectiveness and efficiency,
  • providing equal protection and service to all persons,
  • maintaining good communications and access,
  • being honest in communications,
  • not promising what you can’t deliver, and
  • being responsive to governing body concerns.

A somewhat less frequently referenced cluster included: recognizing and utilizing resources of other government agencies; intelligent stewardship of resources; being politically astute without partisanship; maintaining an awareness of political interactions; facilitating response to and prioritizing city-wide needs, requests, and goals.

Responsibilities to the Department and the Workforce. Two sets of duties and obligations demand highest priority. The first concentrates on inspiring and procreating leadership

  • developing future generations of police leaders
  • creating career opportunities
  • developing talent and skill capacities at all ranks
  • creating a career concept
  • demonstrating what a good leader is
  • maintaining high principles, even in the face of great opposition
  • serving as an example.

Following closely is a set of modeling and enabling duties and responsibilities

  • ensuring integrity and respect
  • providing guiding principles and values
  • exhibiting equitable treatment of all personnel
  • providing appropriate tools to do the police job, including up-to-date technology, and creating a quality work environment.

Providing a vision, a clear mission, goals, and objectives were singled out by half of the contributors, along with "developing" the department to enable it to successfully manage present and future workloads.

Receiving far fewer highest priority references, indeed only occasional ones, were coordinating operations and planning, providing reasonable wage and benefit packages, cooperating with other agencies, sharing information, and shielding the department from political pressures.

Responsibilities to the Profession. We regret not having structured our survey or Conference deliberations to elicit one additional class of priority duties and responsibilities – to the police profession. Still obligations to the profession emerged from discussions. Governing obligations of the executive are to advance the profession by

  • developing even more effective leaders,
  • pursuing "every officer a leader" strategies,
  • mentoring new leadership,
  • raising professional standards, and
  • helping to develop a common body of police and leadership knowledge.

In a departure from the traditional view of the chief’s role and tenure aspirations, Conference participants recognized the evolving reality, purpose and acceptability of the transition chief – most likely a "short-tenure" executive tasked to engineer radical organizational transformation. The transitional chief is likely to become more prevalent and has a growing contribution to make. This phenomenon is occurring within the broader context in which chiefs with "relative" permanence, the overwhelming majority, must and do function as organizational change agents. The role and tenure pattern for chiefs may evolve to resemble that which characterizes the city and county manager profession.


Forces in the community, the police agency, local government, and global trends are profoundly altering expectations and requirements for leading police agencies successfully. Conference participants and contributors singled out the following conscious attentions and response by police executives:

  • Role Transformation. The executive role is shifting rapidly, or should be, from "prudent steward" to "visionary." Communities, governments and especially the workforce look increasingly to a chief for clarity and precision in setting forth a vision and mission for the department, and constructing a framework of shared values. Chiefs are increasingly expected to conceptualize systemically – to define the role and place of policing, and the police officer, in society and the community. Compartmentalized thinking and response is less useful. Chiefs must increasingly consider and act upon the broadest significance and implications of decisions – on the community, the workforce, and the profession. Future chiefs are expected to be community leaders and catalysts on matters now considered to be outside of the purview or only peripheral to the job of chief. Early childhood intervention for those exposed to violence, is one example.

  • Leadership Style. The transition to participatory management seems irreversible. It is, less and less, a choice that the chief executive can control. In the empowerment environment of contemporary organizations, chiefs are less able to function entirely through hierarchical structures, especially to effect change. They must work closely and cooperatively with many levels and components of the command structure and the workforce. For many, authentic sharing of power and relaxing a self-imposed expectation of infallibility and omniscience may be painful. The successful executive will make this emotional/operational transition. Command and control, in its historical version, is becoming less productive, as the dominant management style. Of special import, however, is that while power must be increasingly shared, accountability and responsibility remain, and must remain, squarely with the chief executive. Current trends do not in any way absolve the chief from traditional accountability norms.

  • Community Policing. Community policing is forcing executives to develop a new knowledge base, perfect change management skills, and, most profound for some, to jettison a number of historically fundamental professional beliefs and values. The evolution of Community-Oriented Policing (COP) is far from complete. As it continues to evolve, the leadership role is destined to evolve with it. The role must always be viewed as dynamic.

  • Citizen Expectations. Intensifying community and media access to the chief and evolving organizational structures and culture are producing a more open milieu. The "walled-in" police agency is gone. Increasing public access to information, knowledge about policing, coupled with invitations to engage in community policing, create an increasingly proactive public mindset. Citizens expect to work more closely than ever with the police, including the chief, and to have their overtures acted on. Simultaneously, citizens are more critical of and outspoken about departments that do not reach out. Rising community expectations position the modern executive as a facilitator to a degree heretofore unforeseen.

  • Collaboration Demands. Intensifying community collaboration, much of it inspired by community policing, demands that police executives master interpersonal and group process skills and a talent for recognizing and managing the potentials and impact of intensifying community involvement, positive and negative, on organizational practice and culture.

    As criminals become more mobile and crime more frequently extra-jurisdictional, chief executives must be more attentive to and adept at collaborating with the entire law enforcement community, locally, regionally, nationally, and no doubt, at some point, internationally.

  • Peer Engagement. Political executives and government managers are embracing team management strategies. Those who direct city and county functions are expected to work far more collaboratively, to jointly set policy directions for a jurisdiction, and to attack problems in a coordinated function. Many police executives bring limited experience to team management settings. To move ahead with his or her agenda, a chief must be increasingly able to persuasively articulate issues, needs, and concepts to engender support from peers. A chief is now obligated to serve as a reliable member of the team on a broad range of issues.

  • Community Demographics. The aging of America – the increasing proportion of elderly, the shrinking proportion of youth, and the coming of age of the "echo-boomers" – with attendant implications for crime, violence, service, volunteerism, and recruitment, require immediate attention from today’s police executive. These clienteles expect chiefs to be sensitive to their situations and needs.

    The influx of new ethnic groups and sizable increases in the population of present groups require police leaders to possess and operationalize heightened degrees of cultural awareness and an ability to tailor leadership behavior to a richer and more varied set of subcultures. They must also ensure that these ethnicities are properly represented in the workforce.

    Population shifts are creating pressures on executives in suburban jurisdictions, urbanizing counties, sheriffs, and state police. The comparative tranquility of rural areas can no longer be taken for granted.

  • Technology. Current and future executives must have a firm understanding of how the wave of technology is or can influence police operations. Only recently it was sufficient to have a staff specialist who possessed information technology capabilities. Contemporary and future decision-makers must be capable of mobilizing and manipulating information and data. The cost of technology will also be a critical concern, especially for small and rural departments.

  • Workforce Characteristics. Significant changes are occurring in the workforce. Education levels and ethnic and gender composition are the most evident. Associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees, particularly at the command level, are rapidly replacing the high school diploma as the norm. A more educated officer corps has higher expectations for itself, of its leaders, and is noticeably more independent in thought and behavior. Today’s chief must be prepared, as a matter of course, to confront requests for explanations of directions and decisions and frequent questioning of decisions.

    Ethnic, racial, and gender diversification of the workforce pose new and complex challenges for chief executives. Internal cultural norms, promotions, and assignments will be influenced. Constant monitoring of changing organizational culture is now mandatory for leading productively. Diversification also supplies new opportunities to connect with service sub-populations.

  • Labor Partnerships. Community policing transition experiences have focused, with unmistakable clarity, the centrality of labor organizations to effective change management. The contemporary chief must develop or possess a different perspective than many predecessors, and exhibit new welcoming behaviors toward organized labor. Evolving and recommended strategies to motivate and lead the workforce at large, should promote more constructive labor–management partnerships.

  • Litigation Trends. Mounting local, state, and federal legislation complicates analytical and planning decision processes and multiplies the workload required to ensure that policies, protocols, training, and workforce behaviors are consistent with new legislative initiatives. Until the rules associated with new legal mandates emerge and settle, often from the courts, executives must function in a zone of uncertainty.

  • First-Time Issues and Problems. Executives face issues that are rarely or yet to be dealt with by the profession. Domestic and international terrorism, computer crime, and Y2K appear to be far more daunting than variations on traditional issues, new forms of drug abuse or gang violence, for example. To cope, chief executives now must develop the ability to assemble and assimilate information very quickly and work in unfamiliar subject areas, with new types of knowledge experts. These endeavors, successfully managed, seem to call for new types of education, training, and developmental experiences.

  • Conflicting Demands. The accelerating complexity of the police enterprise, due in large measure to the number and pace of changing forces, may be multiplying the frequency and irresolvability of competing and conflicting demands from the community, workforce, and governing body. Balancing and mediating conflict assumes an expanding share of executive attention and surely requires new sets of interpersonal, political, and intellectual skills and capacity. This situation also calls for conscious attention to objectives and priorities. The interests of victims of crime must always be placed first.

  • Evaluation Criteria. Clienteles, agency staff in particular, more frequently seek proof that chiefs have the know-how to move from concept to reality. Appraisal of a chief’s progress and accomplishments will be increasingly based on a portfolio of tangible accomplishments – successes in crime reduction, community outreach, and successful organizational transformation. The power or authority of the office is less frequently accepted without question.

  • Decision Horizons. Understanding the total socio-political context in which police function and the systemic effects of decisions will be the norm for 21st century chiefs. Narrow decisions, independent of external events and implications, will not be acceptable. To lead successfully, chiefs will have to master the art of data-driven decision making and surround themselves with similarly skilled staff. In this context, "instant" access to information on trends, issues, promising programs, successful interventions, and a host of additional considerations will become a paramount capacity. Executive level networking and peer-to-peer exchange are emerging as a positive phenomenon and a survival strategy.

Managing the Forces of Change

The nature and implications of the forces that are changing police leadership are only partially understood. Further dialogue and eventual consensus must top the leadership research agenda. Unfortunately, practitioners do not have the luxury of awaiting the results of scholarly study. Every day they must manage the impacts of and seize the opportunities presented by changing forces. Despite gaps in information, Conference participants expressed optimism and confidence that current forces of change will be accommodated and managed productively, this view is based on the belief in the overall professional competency, energy, and commitment of contemporary police leadership. Police leadership is currently sound – but can and will be built upon.

To accommodate the impact of changing expectations and requirements, Conference participants advise police executives to:

  • Bring A Passion For the Job. Numerous and complex issues demand that 21st century police leaders bring a special passion for the workplace – that they regard their position as a calling that requires total commitment, not just a job.
  • Understand Your Personal Vision. Be entirely comfortable with your vision for the department and fully understand the issues that must be dealt with. Chiefs who attain this level of awareness will be positioned to compellingly articulate goals and motivate the workforce to accomplish them.
  • Create Community Partnerships. To become and remain sensitive to citizen expectations, achieve goals and accumulate support for times of crisis, aggressively seek out and form alliances with individuals, organizations and associations.
  • Prioritize Victim Services and Customer Satisfaction. Many executives have yet to fully internalize the notion that their departments service "customers." Once customer satisfaction becomes a driving value and is achieved, an executive is likely to be able to draw on powerful community allies to support directions and sustain tenure. The drive for customer satisfaction must never obscure our fundamental obligation to prevent crime and service victims. Customer satisfaction and crime control objectives are reinforcing concepts, not alternatives.
  • Become the Center of Leadership. Develop leaders at all organizational levels and for all functions in the agency. Permit them to guide the department. Identify future leaders, as early in their careers as possible. Mentor future leaders in a way that promotes their career advancement and vision.
  • Foster Debate, Innovation, and Excellence. Create leadership and work teams to promote new ideas and produce innovative strategies. Reward innovation and thoughtful experimentation. Value, promote, and recognize excellence, including excellence in performance of every day duties.
  • Think Collaboratively. Leverage intellectual resources. Attack issues with others. Employ informal roundtables, key department staff, and community leaders to examine issues and set directions. Call upon external subject matter experts, especially for unfamiliar issues. Don’t overlook talented people and resources available in the government setting, including superiors and peers. These individuals confront similar change and challenges.
  • Coach and Facilitate. Allow others to grow and be recognized. Step back and allow others to take credit for ideas and accomplishments. This is essential to participatory management, empowerment, and high levels of morale and enthusiasm.
  • Fashion a Diverse Organization. Aggressively broaden ethnic and gender representation in the workforce. Values and objectives should reflect the drive toward diversity, as well as workforce composition.
  • Continually Evaluate Change Forces. Keep close watch on changes in the internal (workforce) and external (politics/government community) culture, trends and influences. Observing and understanding changes in a timely fashion allow a chief to become/remain proactive rather than reactive.
  • Master the Vital Art of Effective Communication. Especially in times of change, communication must be articulate, constant, and assessed to ensure messages are received and understood as intended. How a direction or vision is put forth substantially dictates how well it will succeed. Advance plans of action in a persuasive and motivating manner.
  • Remain a Student. Being preoccupied with issues, developing staff, and short on available time, chief executives often cheat themselves with regard to education, training, mentoring and networking. For self development, change-management, role modeling, and survival, chiefs must re-engineer themselves to remain perpetual students.
  • Practice Political Humility. While the political aspects of the job engender a high profile, strive to keep name recognition equal to or less than the mayor or other chief political official. The danger of violating this principle is ever-present in community policing settings.
  • Lead Change Throughout Government. Do not stop leading when you enter city hall. Exert leadership with governing partners to ensure that the objectives and goals of community safety are embraced and promoted throughout government. Become a "flagship" commander in the move toward community-oriented government.
  • Raise Professional Standards. Our increasingly complex social and technological environment and the changing role requirements for police officers make it more imperative than ever that educational and ethical standards be raised, at entry and promotional levels. To compete in today’s marketplace and retain quality personnel requires increasing financial incentives and a highly satisfying organizational environment.
  • Do Not Allow Yourself to Bog Down. The range of executive tasks and duties can only become more complex with the passing of time. Survival and success depend on the ability to delegate essential functions and to make decisions quickly when problems arise and issues are identified.

Conference participants emphasize the collective responsibility of the profession to ensure the continuing presence of an abundant pool of candidates who possess the personal attributes, education, training and experience to meet the challenges and demands of the current and future executive environment in policing. "Every Officer Is a Leader" programs are particularly favored. The core concept of these programs is to seek in recruits the same qualities we seek in chief executives.

To meet the challenges of 21st century leadership, including accommodation of currently identifiable forces of change, preparation regimens must differ in both intensity and nature: education requirements will increase, most likely to the graduate degree level; ability to employ technology will become a mandatory skill, personally and to achieve organizational goals; greater breadth in organizational assignments will be needed, in patrol, management, and community-based; a dramatically broadened knowledge base will be required to enable chief executives to interact more effectively with the community on economic development matters and social problem solving, in addition to police policy matters. Increasing competition for chief executive positions among a younger and better educated workforce is forecast.

Personal Attributes

Conference participants believe the personal attributes most necessary for successful leadership are:

  • Honesty/Personal Integrity
  • Vision
  • Innovation Capacity
  • Willingness to Grow or Change
  • Ability to Inspire/Motivate Staff
  • Ability to Function as a Team Builder and Player
  • Positive/Tenacious/Decisive/Goal-Oriented
  • Ability to Communicate Persuasively.

Both participant comments and survey results make it clear that the presence of appropriate core values is an essential leadership component.


Chief executives must bring a strong foundation of education to the job. Survey contributors overwhelmingly recommend a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to lead an agency of under 100 employees. A third of the contributors believe a master’s degree constitutes proper and adequate educational preparation to lead an agency of 100-500 employees. A distinct majority, 74%, believe a master’s degree constitutes proper and adequate preparation to lead the largest agencies in the country.

Conference participants recommend three actions to raise the education achievement level of the incoming generation of chief police executives:

  • Establish Mandatory and Graduated Education Criteria for Promotion

    Our profession has not set mandatory, graduated educational standards for promotion – degrees, advanced degrees, executive development certificates. Promotion, from first line supervision to highest command levels, is presently based on a combination of tenure (time in grade) and performance on generalized examinations that typically test for knowledge of law, department policies and practices, and situational reasoning ability. Assessment centers examine reasoning ability, judgement, poise, and other dimensions. In view of the burgeoning demands on police leadership, requiring officers to meet progressively stringent education/training plateaus directly related to promotional levels is advisable.

    Conference participants also suggest that leading organizations such as IACP, ICMA, the US Conference of Mayors, and CALEA establish Professional Police Certification systems to achieve educational objectives.

  • Review Government Supported Tuition Reimbursement for Officers

    The LEAA-funded LEEP program of the 60’s and 70’s is widely viewed as having accelerated the education achievement level of American policing (Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and Law Enforcement Education Program). A renewal of government commitment and support is now in order to enable a new generation of officers to prepare for police leadership. This program must target agencies with relatively small budgets and lower police salaries. Small and rural agencies experience greatest difficulty availing themselves of education opportunities.

  • Federally Fund Executive Development Fellowships

    Larger numbers of command personnel must enroll in university-based, advance degree executive development programs that cater to public and private sector executives. Those enrolled should be retained on paid status, requiring government funding, most desirably federal funding.


The number of years required to accumulate the technical and management capacities for an executive, as well as the cultural experience and maturity will vary by individual, nature of the work setting, development opportunities and demands of the leadership position. Two-thirds of survey contributors believe 10-15 years of total law enforcement experience constitutes proper and adequate preparation for agencies of 100 and under. One-third feel 10-15 years is also adequate to lead a medium size agency. Another third feel 15-20 years of total experience is a better predictor of success. The 15-20 years experience level is also considered adequate to lead large agencies, by about half of contributors.

Command experience recommendations are:

Agency Size

Agencies Command Experience (Years)

Number of Respondents

Percent of Respondents


3 – 5
5 – 10
10 – 15




5 – 10
10 – 15
15 – 20




5 – 10
10 – 15
15 – 20



Command experience should be progressive.


Those who aspire to and are being groomed for leadership must, in the view of Conference participants, continuously train for leadership. A curious characteristic of the professional development process in American policing however is an inverse relationship between training and tenure/responsibility. Commanders and executives tend to pursue/receive less training than officers and supervisors.

Pre-Conference Survey contributors consider the following types of training to be essential components of the leadership development regimen: principles and practices of leadership; advanced management; budgeting; human resources management, with legal aspects being prominently highlighted. The FBI National Academy is singled out most frequently among advanced management preparation opportunities.

The contributors advocate broad variety in assignments as a preparation strategy. In descending order of reference, those considered to be most essential and of greatest value are: patrol; investigations; administration; budget and finance; internal affairs; planning and research; public information.

Conference participants advocate three actions to enrich the leadership training portfolio of the incoming generation of chief police executives:

  • Enhance the Capacity of Leading National Programs

    Excellent national leadership training opportunities have been in place for decades. Those serving large numbers of chiefs and aspiring chiefs include:

    • FBI National Academy
    • LEEDS
    • National Executive Institute
    • Northwestern University Traffic Institute
    • Police Executive Research Forum
    • Southern Police Institute
    • The Network of 18 Regional FBI Command Colleges.

    Several factors constrain the number of officers who take these programs. The fiscal capacity of local agencies to send officers to these programs is limited. The providers themselves have faculty and facility limits. It is not at all clear whether, even in combination, these and other fine programs can service 21st century chiefs and candidates.

    To expand national training opportunities Conference participants recommend multiplying tuition reimbursement opportunities, including non-traditional sources. Not-for-profit philanthropic organizations are likely to lend support if approached properly. "Police foundations" which are locally based not-for-profit organizations designed to support police departments, have been established in several cities, the recently created New Orleans Police Foundation, for example. Greater innovation is advised to locate and create alternatives to traditional or government funding.

  • Broaden Interdisciplinary Training Opportunities

    Rich developmental opportunities abound beyond the limits of the law enforcement and government environment. CEOs in the private sector, command officers in the military, and leadership scholars in the academic setting have fresh and insightful guidance to impart to future chiefs. An innovative police-corporate-military-academic partnership setting is envisioned in which police leadership candidates can learn from those already successful in other arenas and in which they can be exposed to concepts and practices that may be unconventional in the police setting.

  • Broaden Peer Exchange Opportunities

    Peer exchange, an intensely personalized and focused approach to leadership training, can take many forms and be tailored to competency requirements of aspiring leaders, from personal development issues, values formation for example, to more narrow technical skills, such as budget preparation. Peer exchange can be arranged with law enforcement agencies, government operating officers, or the corporate sector.

Ethics Formation and Reinforcement

Forming and constantly reinforcing ethical behavior and values are paramount in leadership preparation and performance. Chief executives can meet this obligation to their organizations and its membership by complying with the following practices.

  • Demonstrate the Highest Standards of Professional and Personal Conduct

    The entire structure of ethics formation and reinforcement is predicated upon adherence of chief executives to the very highest standards of behavior, higher even than those expected of the workforce and members of the community.

  • Supply Continuous Ethics Training

    Training must emphasize ethics as the foundation of all police behavior. Chiefs and aspiring chiefs must be trained and conditioned to analyze issues from ethical perspectives. They must develop the capacity to base final decisions on ethical reasoning and concerns. Training of this type, rarely covered in basic police or in-service training, will have to be developed. It is also recommended that chiefs work with civil service and personnel departments to incorporate ethical decision-making into promotional examinations.

  • Engineer Career Paths For Ethics and Values Immersion

    Assignments in internal affairs and professional standards for incumbents to examine and judge individual and agency ethical issues. Assignments that nurture the capacity to reason ethically should be mandatory for future leaders.

  • Reward Ethical Conduct

    Agencies should advance from systems of reward for absence of unethical conduct, the present mode, to systems that acknowledge and reward exemplary conduct. Personnel evaluation systems and informal and formal reward programs should be modified to seek out and reward officers who demonstrate high moral standards, evidence moral risk-taking, and contribute to the community.

Extra-Departmental Development Requirements

Successful police chiefs acquire capacities in extra-departmental settings. Aspiring chiefs should emulate this pattern. Activities considered to be of greatest value by Pre-Conference Survey contributors are:

  • Community Service – youth groups, PTA, religious activities
  • Professional Networking – IACP, FBINA Associates
  • Professional Self-Development – consulting, teaching, publishing, public speaking.

Conference participants reinforced these recommendations by citing:

  • Opportunities to become part of community, government, and department problem-solving teams
  • Development assignments in the public and private sector.

To achieve and sustain success for the communities served, superiors in government, and themselves, chief police executives must balance and satisfy a complex range of external forces and constituencies. To achieve agency objectives and counteract consequences that are certain to inhibit achievement of objectives, chief executives must become informed about and proactively influence these forces and constituencies. A passive approach to managing the external environment will not result in a successful leadership experience.

The Complex of Constituencies

Police executives serve political, administrative, community, and justice constituencies. All have common as well as individual special interests. Successful executives work diligently to align and satisfy the needs of constituencies and the agencies they lead. Capacity to do so constructively is a primary correlate of executive survival. Balancing the interests constitutes the Politics Of Policing.

  • Mayors and City Managers

    Mayors and city managers set agendas and give policy and program direction to chief executives. Typically, most items on these agendas will conform to those on the chief’s own/preferred agenda. Others will conflict. Chiefs receive mixed signals from superiors. Often, when direction would be useful, it is not forthcoming. Getting in concert with the mayor and the manager on major policy and program initiatives is essential for successfully managing the external environment and for executive survival.

  • Council Members

    City and county council members represent the entire community, special interests in electoral districts and individual citizens. They expect chiefs and members of departments to be as sensitive to clientele concerns as they must be. While recognizing the obligation, chiefs often have difficulty satisfying council members, while simultaneously complying with expectations of and reporting responsibilities to immediate superiors, managers and/or mayors. Chiefs are wary of politicizing operations. Chief – council member relationships and the legitimate duty to be responsive to council requests must be addressed candidly by a chief, his superiors, and city council members.

  • Communities and Neighborhoods

    A chief must simultaneously serve and satisfy many sub-communities and neighborhoods. Attention to community issues predicts success. Inattention breeds failure. Neighborhoods tend to have differing sets of values and concerns – "drivers" for the police department and the chief. Some neighborhoods are organized and vocal in expressing concerns. Others have equally important concerns but fail to express them as articulately. All neighborhoods, regardless of their ability to seek attention, must receive attention equally. Community policing strategies help chiefs become aware of and satisfy neighborhood differences and concerns.

  • Business Interests

    The business community is a powerful constituency with special concerns. Leaders of major businesses frequently wield substantial political power and can be mobilized for political and financial support including resources. Partnership with a business leader is a hallmark of the successful police executive.

  • Civil Service Commissions

    Civil service laws and agencies govern entry level requirements, selection practices, promotional eligibility requirements, promotional practices, and discipline. Commissions generally function as the appeal body for employees who are dissatisfied with discipline decisions. Many chiefs are passive in regard to civil service matters, which are often in the hands of part-time commissioners, with little police background. Successful management of this external constituency calls for an active posture. Working with commissioners to revise archaic, cumbersome and counterproductive laws and ordinances is recommended. Educating commissions about the purposes and values of discipline practices should be a must. Commissioners should be apprised of department objectives, priority functions, and special projects.

  • State Legislators

    Legislators welcome guidance from professionals, especially with regard to new and useful initiatives. Chief executives should influence the recommendation, drafting, and debate process to establish legislation needed to achieve public safety objectives and to ensure that crime and social legislation does not come forth that is damaging to public safety or department welfare. Influence can be channeled most efficiently through state associations of chiefs of police.

  • Federal Legislators

    The issues that pertain to law-making at the state level pertain with equal relevance to federal law-making. Congresspersons are no less eager to serve local constituents, including chiefs of police, than state legislators. Access is somewhat more difficult, however. Monitoring federal initiatives and actions is also somewhat more difficult, due to distance and complexity of congressional operations.

  • Federal and State Law Enforcement Agencies

    Locally-based federal and state operations, including special task forces (FBI, DEA, ATF, INS, DOJ), are sizeable in many jurisdictions. These operations supply welcome supplemental resources. Their presence also imposes a need for joint priority and target setting and detailed operational coordination.

Political Issues

To achieve and sustain success, Conference participants recommend that chief executives be particularly mindful of the following external issues.

  • Responsible Political Loyalty

    Police leaders come to their positions with support from many key political leaders. Appointment and continuing tenure is often accompanied by quid pro quo expectations. Chiefs cannot operate professionally, as a rule, if they feel that they "owe their jobs" to political authorities.

    Once in place, chiefs must function within the framework of loyalty to professional principles, to the law, and to immediate supervisors. Political overtures can be accommodated only when expected actions conform to professional and desirable police practice. Those to whom chiefs report must be cautious about and avoid actions that place chiefs in compromising situations and nurture what may seem to be disloyalty. Chiefs must proactively address this subject early in their tenure and work out mutually satisfying ground rules.

  • Satisfying "The" Boss

    Police leaders must answer to several formal authorities, mayors, managers, councils, and occasionally, police commissions. Only one, however, is the direct superior on a day-to-day basis. The control/reporting requirements of that superior must be honored most aggressively. Chiefs need to ensure that their immediate superiors are mindful of the pressures, often conflicting pressures, that arise from the standard authority configuration and seek their guidance and protection.

  • Political Pressure on Promotions

    Elected and appointed officials often have a stake in the personnel actions of a chief. Governing body officials represent constituents who may seek support for the promotion/assignment of a particular individual. Risks notwithstanding, a chief cannot make him or herself vulnerable by politicizing selection. Scrupulously observing civil service and administrative regulations and professionally recommended testing strategies afford the greatest protection.

  • Equity of Resource Allocation

    The entire community and each individual neighborhood is entitled to adequate police presence. Resources are rarely sufficient to meet all needs simultaneously. Defensible resource allocation positions emerge from deployment decisions based on data-based problem analysis, community awareness of allocation formulas, and community understanding that deployment requirements are reexamined regularly.

  • Power Transition

    Transition in political leadership poses a recurring threat to the stability of chiefs. New mayors or city managers are normally empowered to evaluate the performance of sitting chiefs, replace them if they so choose, even in instances where chiefs have performed well. Chiefs who wish to retain tenure may be able to create a bond with a new mayor/city manager. Chiefs should make themselves, his or her staff, and critical information and documents immediately available to the new mayor/city manager. They must make it clear that the police department is open to a new agenda and is anxious to help implement it. Quite frequently, however, a chief may not be able to retain tenure or wish to do so. This eventuality is best provided for at time of appointment or reappointment. Buy-out agreements should be put into place early on.

Preparation and Preservation Strategies

Conference participants recommend the following actions to prepare chiefs and aspiring chiefs to understand and manage external constituencies and issues.

  • Create Mutual Expectations Guidelines

    Chiefs and their superiors must come to a comprehensive and unambiguous understanding of the rules of the relationship. Chiefs should meet with mayors, city managers, and legislators to develop guidelines to handle policy issues and define appropriate and inappropriate behavior, among/for all parties. Chiefs should use these opportunities to inform each superior about his or her vision for the department, and his or her personal values.

  • IACP-SACOP New Chief Training

    It is often assumed, mistakenly, that chiefs come to the job well prepared. First-time chiefs deserve focused training. Experienced chiefs can benefit from a refresher. It is broadly recognized that orientation, education and training opportunities for new chiefs are limited. The IACP is called upon by Conference participants to fill this critical gap. The training should be designed and administered in collaboration with SACOPs. The curriculum should include a block on managing the external environment.

  • Refocus Existing Executive Training

    The premier national training courses for police executives do not concentrate heavily enough on managing external influences. Conference participants strongly favor a new training component that focuses on external influences, issues arising from those influences, and managing the influences.

  • Deploy Department Leaders Strategically

    A chief executive cannot successfully manage the entire external environment alone or with just a small cadre of executives. Chiefs can do much more to cement cooperative relationships with external constituencies by strategically deploying a broad base of existing and potential leaders. Officers with leadership capacity should be placed in day-to-day working situations that expose them to external constituencies, public and private, even if assignments have to be created. This exposure will increase the leadership capacity of officers and promote a positive relationship between the department and the outside organizations and individuals. The talents of non-sworn employees and informal leaders should not be overlooked.

  • Form Extra-Departmental Policy Development and Problem Solving Teams

    Chiefs inadvertently but often separate from the citizens they serve. They find it difficult to attend the many community organization and other public meetings to which they are invited. Chiefs must remain proactive, creating opportunities to speak directly with citizens on issues of concern.

    Problem solving teams composed of representatives of government agencies, community groups, the business sector and others are interesting and challenging. These forums should provide environments for healthy dialogue and creation of mutual understanding. Community forums present similar opportunity.

  • Build An IACP Issues Databank

    To learn about external forces and constituencies and to react decisively when unexpected threats and situations arise, an issue-specific databank is called for that supplies best-practices response information.

    Chiefs often go to city council or state legislative meetings "statistically unarmed." The IACP is also asked to muster its considerable policy, research, legislative, and training resources to fill the issue database with useful information to help chiefs inform discussions with external agencies.

    Access to information through the IACP websites should be complemented with a loose-leaf resource document, updated at regular intervals, to be used as a quick desk reference for chiefs.

  • Host Mayor/Manager Panels at National Conferences

    Police executives require expanded opportunities to grasp mayor/manager perspectives. Mayors/managers have the same need in regard to the police executive. IACP’s annual conference is viewed as an ideal venue for mayor/manager panels. Panels could highlight concerns that call for chiefs and mayor/city managers to work closely to clarify expectations.

    Panels should also be held at ICMA, NLC, and US Conference of Mayors gatherings. State and regional law enforcement gatherings should also host these types of panels.

  • Create an IACP Mentors Network

    Given the number of external constituencies a chief must deal with and the range of issues specific to each, every chief executive is likely to need guidance from time to time. Conference participants envision a list of law enforcement leaders with expertise in handling specific external constituents/situations. The list should specify the type of issue a mentor has handled.

Transition Support

Much more needs to be done to care for chiefs who are fired, forced to resign, or elect to resign because situations become professionally or personally untenable. Compassion, attention, and economic opportunity can be exhibited and offered in numerous ways:

  • An Information Packet for Chiefs in Transition
  • Phone Calls from Peers
  • Consulting Assignments
  • Job Search Services: Executive Search; Resume Preparation; Interview Preparation; and Contract.

Conference participants advocate that the IACP provide or arrange for these support services.

The current IACP President, Ronald Neubauer, has proposed the following package of services for "Chiefs in Crisis":

  • Executive Search Data Bank
  • Application Assistance
  • Interview Training
  • Contract Negotiation Guidelines and Model Contracts
  • Legal Research and Analysis
  • Mentoring.

To achieve and sustain success for the communities served, superiors in government, and themselves, chief executives must also balance and satisfy a complex range of internal forces and constituencies. As with the external environment, chief executive officers must be fully informed about internal forces and the interests and activities of internal constituencies in order to proactively influence achievement of objectives and counteract conditions which inhibit achievement of objectives. A passive approach to managing the internal environment will not result in a successful leadership experience.

The Complex of Constituencies

Internal constituencies, while complex, are probably fewer in number then external constituencies, more accessible, and their interests, common and special, are more "predictable." A leader should be able to exert greater influence over the internal than the external environment.

  • The Sworn Workforce

    In traditional organizations the workforce is viewed in command and control, hierarchical terms – as ranks and resources. This promoted a tendency to view the sworn workforce with neutrality or, in too many cases, adversarially. Today, chief police executives must view the workforce in entirely different terms, interact in entirely different ways, to motivate its members to pursue and achieve agency objectives. Collaboration, power sharing, trust, and even humility are replacing the authority of rank. While many executives have embraced customer service and community policing notions, they still fail to recognize the workforce as a very special clientele – demanding focused attention and service.

  • The Civilian Workforce

    Civilians occupy critical positions, in planning, research, 911 response, crime analysis, public information, crime prevention and information management. They complement and work closely with sworn staff to ensure the effective operation of the department. Still, they are frequently regarded, made to feel, and feel like "second class citizens." A chief must provide leadership that affirms the status and value of civilians. They, like the sworn staff, deserve "special clientele" status.

  • Command and Supervisory Staff

    These two classes of constituencies have characteristics that successful chiefs must be sensitive to. They serve as a critical link to the rank and file for a chief executive’s vision, goals and objectives. Their beliefs should never be taken for granted. Lieutenants, or the equivalent rank in departmental hierarchies, often struggle to find a meaningful and satisfying role. Sergeants, first-line supervisors, often function, in their own minds, somewhere "between" management and labor. Chief executives must deal deliberately with role conceptions and misconceptions, where they exist.

  • Specialized Units

    Specialized units – tactical, gang, hostage, and drug require substantial leadership to ensure that they do not become "detached" from the larger mission of the department and organizationally isolated. Nor can they be permitted to take on elitist behaviors. They must remain properly integrated.

  • Union/Employee Organizations

    Like policing generally, and like chief executives, labor associations and their leadership are confronting change due to many of the same forces, including the increasing independence and education of the worker. Labor associations recognize the values of less acrimony and greater collaboration. Successful leaders are recognizing the opportunities inherent in changing conditions, among them, articulating vision to union leadership to create collaboration versus contention.

Leading the Sworn Workforce

To lead sworn personnel successfully, Conference participants recommend the following actions:

  • Establish and Share Vision/Values

    Establish visions, values, and mission by consensus. Incorporate input from all levels of the department. Convey vision, values, and mission in terms that evoke emotion and passion. This approach should maintain or renew the passion of the leader.

  • Empower Staff Who Understand What is Right

    Ensure that members of the workforce who embody the central values of the organization, share the vision, are positioned to operationalize the values, and influence/lead other employees.

  • Maximize Opportunities to Accomplish and Succeed

    A primary obligation of the chief executive officer is to structure a career setting that provides opportunity for material and emotional reward and fulfillment. What would satisfy a workforce should be defined collaboratively.

  • Clearly Articulate Expectations and Rewards

    Clearly communicate the path to advancement opportunities. How to approach and master the reward system (promotions, assignments) should be clearly articulated. Officers who understand the nature of opportunity can make sound decisions on courses of career action.

  • Create a Thirst For Leadership

    The chief should create an environment in which all officers feel they can attain and exercise leadership capacities, not simply attain hierarchical leadership posts. Impart leadership knowledge and understanding of the organizational culture.

  • Prioritize Creativity

    Give latitude for officers to be more creative and to do more on their own, especially to those employees who share the executives goals and values, who are well-trained, and who are most highly trusted.

  • Provide Measures of Success

    The chief and command staff must supply useful feedback to enable individual officers to determine whether progress is occurring organizationally and for the officers themselves. What constitutes success is objective and subjective – geared to officer expectations. Measures should be pre-defined.

  • Manage Failure in a Restorative Manner

    Based on the immense scope and complexity of police work, most officers will fail occasionally in some manner. Chiefs must create an organizational environment in which command staff and supervisors work closely with officers to assess situations and provide guidance for officer growth. With the obvious exception of egregious errors, most mistakes, if dealt with in a restorative manner, provide excellent learning and growth opportunities for officers.

  • Provide Opportunities for Face to Face Contact

    Just as chiefs must not distance themselves from the citizens they serve, they must not distance themselves from the officers they lead. A chief should seize a variety of informal and formal opportunities to talk and work with officers of all ranks. To provide effective leadership, a chief must be visible to the officer corps – regularly available to discuss issues and get feedback.

  • Monitor Cynicism

    Cynicism and disillusionment develop for many officers at the five-to-seven years tenure mark by several estimates. Officers assigned to tough neighborhoods, gang or drug units, and undercover work seem particularly vulnerable. Frequently officers are only vaguely aware of the changes in their perceptions and feelings. Chiefs, through their commanders and supervisors, are urged to monitor the "outlook" of members of the workforce. It is wise, also, to put a well thought out program of duty rotation in place to minimize the potential for burnout and cynicism.

  • Evaluate Leadership Style

    Chiefs should never assume that their brand of leadership is well received by all officers or that their own expectations and outcomes match. Formalized feedback mechanisms should be utilized to gauge officer opinion on issues of many types. An effective leader must remain open to critique and be able to alter his or her leadership model to meet legitimate concerns of staff.

Leading Employee Organizations

To manage relations with employee organizations successfully, Conference participants recommend the following actions

  • Collaborate Regularly With Union Leaders

    A chief can exemplify the best in contemporary leadership by reaching out to the heads of labor associations, meeting regularly to address issues of mutual concern, and truly appreciating/respecting the leadership/ constituency obligations of their labor counterparts. Improved mutual trust is a likely outcome. A more positive working relationship that becomes essential when tough issues arise is a second probable outcome.

  • Engage Union Leaders in Executive Training

    Labor leaders can approach with better perspective and more constructively when they understand the "other side." One way to accomplish this is to encourage union/labor leaders to attend management and executive training courses. As these union representatives return to line officer issues, they can evaluate these in the broader context of management obligations.

  • Keep the Media and Community Informed

    In pressurized contract negotiation situations, union leaders may question a chief’s plans for an organization, staffing intents, and/or evidence confusion about other goals and objectives regarded as detrimental to officers. To clarify such perceptions, a chief must ensure that his or her vision and mission statements are well known to 1) the entire community, and 2) the local media.

Renewing the Leadership Culture

Conference participants urge chief executives to create and maintain an organizational culture that nurtures leadership and renewal.

  • Open the Organizational Culture

    An effective organizational culture serves all internal and external constituencies. It assesses, responds to, and satisfies community and workforce needs. Participants call for a move away from a "bunker mentality," a move that is accelerating rapidly due to philosophical transition to community policing.

  • Establish the Ethical Climate by Consensus

    A chief must, by example, model the kinds of behavior sought from all employees. It is preferable, however, that ethical standards not be imposed authoritatively, but collaboratively developed by leaders and those to be led.

  • Guarantee Leadership Renewal

    The number of qualified leaders should consistently exceed the number of executive and command positions. Opportunities must be established for members of a department to lead in various contexts.


This report summarizes the highlights of the President’s First Leadership Conference. It captures an abundant assortment of core observations and recommendations to promote the success for current and aspiring chiefs. At the same time, neither at the Conference nor in this report have we explored or fully explored the range of leadership issues that are pertinent to our objective. Issues which require further deliberation include:

  • The Shifting Role. The consensus that emerged from Conference work suggests major priority shifts in the preferred role of the chief police executive, externally and internally. These shifts and their implications demand further debate.
  • The Unchanging Fundamentals. Conference deliberations and Pre-Conference Survey responses indicate that numerous obligations and functions of the contemporary chief police executive are not changing, and are not likely to, even as we enter the 21st century. Much more attention should be focused on these aspects.
  • Forces of Change. Our list is surely not exhaustive. Accordingly, we cannot be certain we have captured the most influential forces.
  • Implications of Forces. More work needs to be done to understand how the forces are changing leadership requirements today, and will do so in the early 21st century, and most consequentially, what actions chiefs and aspiring chiefs should take to accommodate the forces constructively.
  • Action Guidelines. An abundant package of guidelines are supplied to successfully manage the external and internal environment. Many more are worthy of consideration and addition to our list.
  • Unexamined Issues. Our Conference focused on four concentrations of pertinence to leadership success, those we considered central. Others remain to be addressed.
  • Prioritizing Observations and Actions. It would be valuable to charge Conference participants and contributors to reexamine and prioritize the many observations and recommendations they produced.

The success potential of chief executives in the immediate 21st century would surely be enhanced through illuminating study of the foregoing issues. This can and should occur in many venues, one being a second IACP President’s Leadership Conference, featuring an agenda that builds upon the first.


Conference participants called upon the IACP to serve as the professional umbrella for actions that must take place to ensure increasing and/or continuing success for the current generation of chiefs and to groom the next generation. They fashioned an agenda of action mandates for the IACP to pursue to support current and aspiring executives:

  • Develop a Model New Chiefs Training Curriculum
  • Continue the Current Ethics Programming and Training
  • Lobby to Enhance the Service Capacity of Leading National Executive Development Programs
  • Lobby for Government-Funded Tuition Reimbursement Programs and Executive Development Fellowships
  • Accelerate Production and Dissemination of Leadership Articles and Publications
  • Create a Network of Mentors
  • Build a Leadership Issues Databank
  • Host More Mayor/Manager/Police Executive Workshops
  • Conduct Annual Leadership Surveys and Conferences
  • Provide Comprehensive Chiefs in Transition/Chiefs in Crisis Support Services.

Continuing the development of the "Every Officer Is a Leader" program should remain a highest priority.


"Though sometimes disappointed, always have a passion to help those with whom you work to excel beyond their comfort zone."
— Bobby Moody

"Successful police leaders recognize their role is changing and they are leading the change by developing shared visions for their organizations and pursing the vision with passion, maximizing partnerships and coalitions to achieve success, while taking time to develop others."
— Tim Moore

"Expectations of the city manager and the chief of police must be articulated, understood and monitored."
— Tom Muehlenbeck

"Establish your core values as soon as possible and then have the character to live your life by those standards. Character is what you do when no one is looking."
— Ron Neubauer

"The chief of police should not be afraid to take risks and always serve as a role model."
— Howard Prince

"To be a good chief, have courage, integrity, knowledge, intuition and wisdom. To be a truly great chief, demonstrate your capacity to look into the faces of your employees, citizens and crime victims and see reflected there the faces of those you love and value most."
— Charles Samarra

"Check your ego. Recognize that your position is but one spoke in the wheel."
— Darrel Stephens

"Sometimes the chief’s role can be very lonely due to problems beyond your control. During those times, call other chiefs who have had similar experiences for guidance."
— William Stover

"The chief’s job is very complex. The skills and talents needed to succeed are many and stability is a state of mind. You need to continually maintain your skills and talents on the cutting edge to succeed in a complex job in a changing environment."
— Arturo Venegas, Jr.

"Effective leaders establish a strong rapport with their officers, community, administrators and elected officials based on a foundation of trust and caring and maintain this relationship through open communication, ethical behavior and doing the right thing."
— Mary Ann Viverette

"Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing."
— Richard Zappile

Conference Staff

Bobby Moody
1997-98 IACP President, Chair

Daniel Rosenblatt
Executive Director

Eugene Cromartie
Deputy Executive Director

Jerome Needle
Director, Programs and Research

Planning and Production

John Firman
Conference Coordinator

Natalie Ivanovs
Assistant Conference Coordinator

Jim Culp
Conference Support

Renee Cobb
Conference Support

Kelcy Stefansson
Conference Support

Paul Bolton
Conference Support

Jeanine Burchard
Conference Support

Stephanie Howard
Conference Support

Ojmarrah Mitchell
Conference Support


Sheldon Greenberg
Chair, Department of Interdisciplinary Programs, Johns Hopkins University