Police Agency's Value of NIJ LEADS Program
Chief Reynolds of the Charleston (SC) Police Department discusses the value of having an NIJ LEADS Scholar in his agency and how that scholar has helped the agency and community.
It’s a program that really blends research and practitioners and real topics, real challenges that we have in our city. We’re blessed to have a LEADS scholar in our agency right now. And he goes and works with other people, his counterparts, and learns a lot through meetings, conferences, discussions from his peers, from other research experts in the field, best practices, evidence-based practices, and brings that back to us and we are able to implement change. And I think everything in our field is constantly changing. And so for us to be the best we can be, we have to look at research and we have to listen to those people in the field that are already working on these topics, that are already making a difference. And my definition of leadership is leave it better than how you found it. And I think that the LEADS Scholar Program is doing that, very powerful, meaningful, tangible ways.
When I was in Maryland, we had a LEADS scholar who got his PhD who actually was the director of our training academy. He looked at emotional intelligence and leadership development, and a lot of opportunities to develop our command, which to me is a sweet spot within the organization where you can really have an exponential impact on outcomes. My current LEADS scholar in Charleston in South Carolina is looking at a whole variety of things. We just did an audit with our community on racial bias, it involves so many things. We had 70 recommendations that came out at this audit. It affects traffic and use of force, our data analytics, how we’re engaged with our community, and a whole variety of other things like community trust, community engagement, community policing, training, technology. And so he is able to really lean into that space, lean into that audit, lean into the LEADS scholars, and all the scientists and researchers that are a part of that program at NIJ, and draw from that at no cost to me, and through those relationships begin to really help us with this audit, help us pivot incrementally into a much better position.
I would say it’s a tremendous opportunity, it’s a golden opportunity, and I would strongly support your smart people that have an interest, that have a motivation, that have that position within your organization to submit. Another piece of advice I would say is commit to it, support them, give them the time, give them the space, give them the ability to kind of throw ideas back and forth within your organization so that you get maximum benefit. The LEADS Scholars Program is working. It’s making an impact in our industry. And so I’m a big supporter. I couldn’t be more supportive. But I think that chiefs need to be involved and they need to put the LEADS scholars in a position of influence within the organization and surround them by people that are making decisions, that are changing policies, that are working on practices that are going to have an impact in the communities, in the agency, and have better outcomes.
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