SHU Works With Bridgeport Police Department to Develop College Course for Bettering Officers’ Skills
Sacred Heart University’s Criminal Justice program has partnered with the Bridgeport Police Department to create and offer the “Police Leadership Institute,” a course in police management.
The for-credit course was conceived by Dr. James McCabe, associate professor of Criminal Justice, and was developed in collaboration with Bridgeport Chief of Police Joseph Gaudett. Topics to be covered include fitness and wellness, strategic management and project management. The latter entails working in the classroom on real-world smaller projects and issues that Gaudett has identified within his department.
“There was nothing like this course around here, nothing that offered any education like this for the local police, and there is a need for it,” McCabe says. “So Chief Gaudett and I designed a program together, and I relied on a lot of my own experiences to hone the syllabus.” McCabe retired from the New York City Police Department as an inspector in 2006 and has completed executive-level police training at Harvard University, Columbia University and the FBI Academy.
The course, which began the first week of the Fall 2012 semester, is available to Bridgeport police captains and lieutenants. It runs for 12 weeks for full days on alternate Fridays. “The idea is that the police officers become motivated to restart their studies, and Sacred Heart gets more students in its Criminal Justice program and continues to build its relationship with Bridgeport,” McCabe says.
Though the program is young, McCabe believes it’s been a great success so far. “The first session was off the charts,” he says. “The enthusiasm and the level of participation by the Bridgeport folks were just unbelievable. You could feel the excitement in the room. There’s certainly an interest and an investment made by the city of Bridgeport, and the attendees have definitely responded. They are motivated and a pleasure to deal with.”
McCabe hopes that eventually the course can be offered to police officers in other nearby communities, too. “In my discussions with the police in the surrounding areas, I learned that they’re looking for some type of executive-level or command-level education,” he says. “So this has the potential not only to grow our own Criminal Justice program, but also to provide a service to our local law enforcement departments. It could lead to research opportunities, more students and more.”
Still, the most important part of the Police Leadership Institute is that it helps the community that Sacred Heart is part of. “One of the most important public services that the local communities offer is law enforcement, so to provide training and enrich the people that do that work is a valuable service that we provide back,” McCabe says. “The police departments get better training and get better equipped and, in turn, they become more motivated commanders and do a better job. It’s a win-win-win for everybody.”