Addressing and finding solutions to increasingly complex, multi-dimensional public safety challenges around the country will continue to test the knowledge, thinking and skills of police leaders at every level of agencies. Police leaders in the 21st century will need and deserve a leadership development model which equips them for the complex realities of the field. Today’s public safety problems are of a type and a level of complexity that they cannot be solved with the kind of thinking and tactics of yesterday; or, with choices of strategies and actions informed only by local experiences.
It is the intent of the Teaching Police Department Initiative [TPDI] to help advance the “profession of policing” by creating a new paradigm for police leadership, professional development and organizational change. Envisioned as a multi-year, multi-stage effort, the TPDI will begin by designing, developing and piloting the implementation of a model for transforming police departments. This new model will challenge and support police departments - first in New England and subsequently nationally – to become working laboratories for conceptualizing, developing, testing and implementing new crime reduction and crime prevention strategies, and for creating and fostering a police culture committed to innovation and organizational learning, as well as to life-long learning for officers.
Through Cooperative Agreement #2010CKWXK021, the USDOJ COPS Office has provided initial funding for a two year effort to design, develop and pilot the TPDI model. Centered at Roger Williams University (RWU) School of Justice Studies and the Providence Police Department (PPD), the TPDI model will be informed by and based on the success of the medical school and teaching hospital / residency program models which offer doctors lifelong, evidence-based, best practices professional education. Under the TPDI, Roger Williams University School of Justice Studies and its Justice System Training and Research Institute (JSTRI) will serve as the “medical school” offering training, continuing education and degree programs. The Providence Police Department (PPD) will function as the “teaching hospital”.
The TPDI will adapt the lessons learned from the medical profession’s experience with medical schools, teaching hospitals and residency programs, as well as adapt current best practices in the preparation of leaders in other fields, in organizational learning and change, and in the implementation of innovations, and apply them to the realities of policing. In the medical profession, teaching hospitals are where research is applied, medical knowledge continuously evolves and new cures and treatments are found. The residents’ ability to be skillful professionals and leaders in their specialties hinges on their exposure to leading edge research and on the knowledge, techniques and effectiveness of teaching physicians. They are responsible for seeing that residents develop a solid foundation in diagnosis, use current medical research to inform their decision making, apply knowledge of innovative practices and techniques to addressing patients’ problems and devising treatments. Further, teaching physicians and the requirements of residency programs also contribute to new doctors developing a commitment to life-long professional learning, so that they remain current in their field and effective providers of medical care.
In its role as the “teaching hospital”, PPD will provide police officers with leadership development experiences and an environment to implement best practices crime reduction and crime prevention strategies, as well as an opportunity to study their effectiveness in a real-time, real life laboratory which supports on-going individual and organizational learning. Selected PPD managers / officers will be taught to become “Teaching Police Fellows / Instructors” and work with TPDI staff on the creation and implementation of the TPDI “Residency Program”.
The TPDI will combine the best of current adult learning principles and practices, evidence-based and other contemporary policing practices, as well as practical strategies for adapting and adopting best practices in the field. Informed by pertinent research on implementing innovations and change management, TPDI will serve as a test site for innovative police department organizational designs, operating policies / procedures and performance measurement tools. The TPDI will benefit from strong partners and community-based organizations who will inform program design and development of curricula, provide subject matter expertise, assist in research and help document TPDI outcomes for eventual replication nationwide. The TPDI is intended to be a new paradigm for the evolution of policing – equipping police leaders and police departments for the transformations of thinking and action necessary to meet current and future challenges.
If TPDI is to truly develop a new paradigm, the overall strategy for design, development and pilot implementation of the TPDI will require that both those involved in its creation, as well as those enrolled in the “Residency Program” work outside of their own conceptual and experiential comfort zones. Through their involvement with TPDI, Teaching Police Fellows / Instructors, TPDI Staff and participants will challenge themselves to create new processes and practices to support effective and lifelong professional learning, produce new habits of mind and action, as well as co-create a viable Community of Practice to provide on-going access to knowledge and learning that supports continuing innovation and evolution in the field.
Led by the Justice Systems Training and Research Institute (JSTRI) at Roger Williams University (RWU) and the Providence Police Department (PPD), the TPDI model will be developed with assistance from Brown University Medical School in Providence RI, the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence RI, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City and other partners.
The TPDI pilot will begin with a six-month planning and design phase and over the course of the remaining eighteen months curricula will be designed, developed and a range of learning experiences centered around the “TPDI Residency Program” will be piloted. Planning, design and development efforts will be directed by TPDI staff and involve RWU faculty and PPD staff, along with other institutional partners, community leaders and other subject matter experts[SMEs], all contributing their expertise to the design of learning experiences for TPDI participants. These learning experiences will include the TPDI Residency Program, with virtual/e-learning, webinar and collaborative components, as well as an on-site residential component with a series of “rounds” and analysis of case studies of community issues and crime problems.
To cultivate and support on-going learning and professional development, those involved in the TPDI [“Residents”, Teaching Police Fellows / Instructors, TPDI staff and Faculty and other SMEs) will build and participate in a Community of Practice. Design, development and implementation of the Community of Practice will be informed by current best practices knowledge regarding effective application of that tool for on-going learning and innovation.
In all aspects of the TPDI, research will inform learning design, which will in turn drive application of relevant knowledge. Each of the pilot rounds of the TPDI “Residency Program” will benefit from and be strengthened by participant feedback, Instructor assessments and review by SMEs.
Some examples of TPDI key activities during the USDOJ COPS Office funded pilot phase include:
Joan L. Sweeney, Ph.D. – Co-Director TPDI
Robert McKenna, MS, JD – Co-Director TPDI
Denise Owens, MBA – Project Manager