Finding a new police chief can be a “haphazard process” for cities, says Darrel Stephens, director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and former chief in Charlotte. Stephens described at a U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance conference yesterday a federally funded project aimed at coming up with a more consistent way of developing future law enforcement leaders. Experts assembled by a team led by Stephens and police-leadership expert Bill Geller are analyzing areas that chiefs should be familiar with, including building community relations, problem solving, racial issues, performance metrics, and how policing should be done in an era of shrinking local governments.
The Police Executive Research Forum is leading a parallel project involving case studies of police leadership in three places: New Orleans, San Francisco, and Manchester, England. PERF director Chuck Wexler told the conference how the project is progressing. Wexler noted that the average tenure of U.S. police chiefs is just over 3 years. The constant replacement of chiefs mean that some receive little training in the challenges they will face. The issue of declining resources in many areas “will drive policing” in the future, Wexler said. Among questions that need to be answered: How can policing be done more efficiently, and “do we need a different kind of leader?” The three-day BJA conference, “Advancing Justice through Evidence and Innovation,” ended yesterday in Washington, D.C.