Guest Post by Tyana Daley: Developing Law Enforcement Leaders and Nurturing Smart Thinkers

In the years to come, police agencies will likely encounter a heightened need for solid leadership as a combination of factors challenges law enforcement. Senior-level law enforcement officials will retire, creating a vacuum in the upper ranks and a shortage of experienced leadership talent.

Additionally, many agencies retain a leadership structure patterned after a military hierarchy where command-level staff makes all decisions, despite the fact that such a structure has been changing in the armed forces since Vietnam. This type of structure and thinking can lead people in leadership positions to believe that their promotion or appointment itself confers upon them the right to make every decision entirely on their own.

Poor leadership – with decisions by declaration instead of by collecting and evaluating all information and including others in the review and analysis – inevitably leads to poor problem-solving. But skillful leadership developed through recruitment and training of officers based on performance and potential will help create a process that produces solutions.

The federal Office of Personnel Management has developed a list of five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) to define characteristics of effective leaders. Those attributes can easily be adapted by law enforcement agencies to identify and develop leaders.

The ECQs are:

Leading change to create improvements inside and outside an organization, meet goals, and develop and implement an organization’s vision in a shifting environment
Leading people to meet the vision and goals, while creating an atmosphere that nurtures personnel development, cooperation and constructive conflict resolution
Results-driven in meeting goals and expectations by applying calculations, analysis and knowledge to solve problems
Business acumen applied to strategic management of information, and human and financial resources
Building coalitions internally, and with other government agencies and private sector groups to meet a common goal

With the ECQs as a roadmap, law enforcement agencies can select and train personnel to become leaders, while encouraging the innovation and critical-thinking necessary to overcome rapidly shifting challenges.

These core leadership qualifications can fold seamlessly into the problem-solving model commonly used in community-oriented policing: Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment (SARA).

A key aspect of this model is the inclusion of all stakeholders from the initial phase onward. This eliminates a tunnel-vision view of the situation and incorporates several ECQs, such as coalition building and leading people.

In the Scanning phase, the problem is described in specific detail. This includes learning how people became aware of the issue and identifying the affected parties, such as individual victims or neighborhoods.

A theory is then developed as to the cause of the problem. This phase requires leaders who can create a coalition of parties within the police agency and with community members.

Next comes the Analysis phase, when information and data is gathered and organized. Among other things, this means determining: where and how often a problem arises; the consequences of the problem; and the nature of the resources available for dealing with the issue.

The Response phase focuses on the selection and implementation of an appropriate solution to the identified problem. The response must attack the problem at its weakest point and all stakeholders must be involved in the allotting of specific responsibilities. This requires a free- flowing exchange of ideas, with no viewpoints ignored, in order to inspire out-of-the-box solutions.

A leader must guide and channel the group’s divergent personalities and encourage creativity.
The Assessment phase seeks to evaluate the outcome against the stated goals of the response. During this stage, leaders will determine what worked (and what didn’t) and seek to incorporate adjustments in order to improve the effectiveness of future problem-solving initiatives.

This requires a patient and careful review of all the available data.

Police agencies face a constantly shifting landscape of challenges, whether it’s cybercrime, budgetary constraints or staffing shortages. More than ever, solid leadership and smart thinking are must-haves in law enforcement.


Tyana Daley is a writer for University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education. She works with the online programs from various colleges. She covers a variety of topics around criminal justice and law enforcement. She is currently a junior at the University of South Florida studying Technical Communications and New Media. She has a passion for learning, technology and internet trends.

Fun Fact: Tyana is also a police officers daughter. Her father is a Lieutenant Florida State Trooper and is going on his 25th year of service.

Any questions or comments on the article you can reach Tyana Daley, University Alliance|Bisk Education|New England College, tyana-daley@bisk.com