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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University December 13, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 15
In 10 years, SPSBE division has become the model in its field

Training the Next Leaders in Public Safety

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

One word that perhaps best portrays SPSBE's Division of Public Safety Leadership is innovation. How else to describe an academic unit that in one year can host a national meeting on gang violence (with prominent gang leaders in attendance); conduct a ride through the Gettysburg battlefield to teach leadership and management principles; and place city, state and federal law enforcement leaders from around the country into one classroom.

Now in its 10th year, the Division of Public Safety Leadership has grown from its relatively humble roots to become the model for leadership training in the public safety field, which includes policing, firefighting, federal law enforcement and community watchdog groups.

Sheldon Greenberg, the division's founding director, says that even as DPSL prepares to enter its second decade, it continues to be unique.

"The way we supply leadership training by combining liberal arts and a business curriculum, the way we conduct our efforts in outreach — nobody in the country does it the way we do," Greenberg says.

Established in 1994, the DPSL has a core mission to provide educational programs that foster the intellectual, ethical and social development of current and future leaders in public safety. Through its programs, the division aims to strengthen and sustain communities and to promote collaboration among people, organizations and agencies.

At its heart, the division offers two degree-granting programs, the Police Executive Leadership Program and the U.S. Secret Service Executive Development Program. Its students, who must hold a rank in their field, earn either a master of science in management or a bachelor of science in management degree. The two-year part-time program offers advanced course work in management, leadership, philosophy, advanced technology and liberal arts. Classes are held primarily at the university's Columbia Center, at 6740 Alexander Bell Dr. in Columbia, Md., with additional course work hosted at the Homewood campus, Downtown Center and Montgomery County Campus.

While current issues in criminal justice are discussed in the classroom, there are no courses dedicated to the subject, Greenberg says, as those entering the program already have a solid understanding of criminology.

Its first year, one cohort group of 24 law enforcement officers from Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and several Maryland counties enrolled in the Police Executive Leadership Program.

To date, more than 340 individuals have passed through the program, with graduates representing 23 federal, state and local agencies. Of that number, more than 30 have gone on to become chiefs of police, two to fire chiefs and six to prominent positions in federal agencies.

Each year the degree-granting programs promptly fill up, Greenberg says, and all without the use of marketing.

"It's mostly word of mouth, and reputation," he says. "What is equally remarkable is that people don't apply to the programs; they have to be recommended by their chief executive, whether it be a chief of police, commissioner or superintendent."

PELP now enrolls six cohort groups annually. Its faculty includes full-time and adjunct professors from Johns Hopkins, noted scholars from other universities, and leading business, government, nonprofit and law enforcement practitioners.

In addition to academic training, the division hosts conferences, colloquia, seminars and forums on subjects related to public safety, such as school safety, advancing community policing, citizen patrols and first-responder readiness. In spring 2004, the DPSL hosted and participated in the national Post-9/11 Roundtable, a three-session event in Baltimore that brought together top law enforcement officials from the United States and Canada, including police chiefs, sheriffs and officials in transit, campus and tribal policing.

Last month, the division, in conjunction with the mid-Atlantic Regional Community Policing Institute, hosted and helped identify participants for the National Summit on Campus Public Safety: Strategies for Colleges and Universities in a Homeland Security Environment, an event held at the university's Mt. Washington Center. The purpose of the three-day summit was to help ensure the continued safety and security of the nation's colleges and universities, with special attention to preventing and responding to acts of terrorism. To this end, it brought together higher education leaders and authorities on subjects such as policing and bioterrorism to make recommendations and develop a national agenda on campus safety.

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Greenberg served as associate director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement think tank and research center. He began his career as a police officer in Howard County and rose to the rank of commander of the administrative services bureau. He is a founding member and past president of the Maryland Crime Prevention Association and has advised police agencies in Cyprus, Jordan, Kenya, Panama, Pakistan and the Czech Republic, among others.

A leading advocate of grass roots, neighborhood policing, the division supported the creation of the Neighborhood Leadership Initiative, a rigorous yearlong program designed to support citizens who are community leaders. The 118-hour course, offered in conjunction with the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, addresses issues such as interacting with political leaders, sustaining young people as volunteers, reducing neighborhood fear and dealing with vacant housing. By the end of the program, all participants have developed an action plan for their neighborhood.

In the coming months, the division will begin offering a Homeland Security degree and certificate, both of which will focus on the role of leaders in managing homeland security and instilling it into the culture of American society. In addition, the division is planning to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees and certificate programs in intelligence analysis. Students will be drawn from the fields of police, fire, emergency medicine and public health.

Greenberg says that the division has been engaged in global public safety issues since its founding and will continue to be.

"We have to keep doing what we are doing because the structure of the profession is so fragmented. If we at Hopkins do not facilitate collaboration through quality education and other opportunities, the fragmentation that exists in public safety will forever inhibit progress," he says. "We must do all we can to overcome parochialism among our agencies and jurisdictions. If you're a physician, a journalist or a mechanic, you must know about your field and keep up to date with the latest trends and practices, but if you're a police officer or police commander, you only have to know what goes on in your department; as an individual within the profession, you assume little or no responsibility for bettering yourself. That is where we come in."

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