“In a crisis you’re in charge. You make the decision. [And] Listen to your subordinates. Most of your good ideas are from patrol officers.”
That was one of the key lessons Sgt. Peter McKoy took away from an intense two weeks of supervisory training that he and 18 other newly minted sergeants have completed.
They received handshakes, hugs, and the hearty congratulations at a graduation ceremony Friday from their chiefs, along with handsome certificates from the Center for Advanced Policing.
The latter, frequently referred to as “Command College,” is the creation of the New Haven police department and University of New Haven. The graduation along with the training took place at UNH.
Click here for a previous article on the initiative, which New Haven’s Chief Dean Esserman launched this month with an eye toward making it a regional or national model. He hopes to have cops promoted to every rank spend time there learning how to manage. Funded by federal grants, the program has the potential, he said, also to become the “Connecticut [police] West Point,” where all the state’s other municipalities come to professionalize, with academic and practical learning, as they move up in the ranks.
In years gone by, leadership and supervisory training had been ad hoc for newly promoted cops. The new sergeants did 80 hours of training in the new academy immediately upon being promoted.
McKoy, a 15-year veteran of the New Haven force, said he came away with an augmented sense of how to implement community policing: “They really want us to work with a controlled group of officers, know an area and know our officers,” he said.
Another of the certificate recipients, Sgt. Marco Francia (pictured), a 25-year-veteran, has been around long enough to notice the sea change from what he described as “a regimented paramilitary to community policing.”
In the hallway after the ceremony, he said he gleaned this lesson, among others, at the college: “It’s not when you work; it’s where you work, creating a sense of ownership for a particular community. It raises the stakes a bit. That’s the gem of community policing.”
“You were really listening,” said former Branford Police Chief John DeCarlo, now a UNH professor and one of the architects of the Command College curriculum.
Francia has been around long enough to remember when former Chief Nick Pastore introduced the community policing model in the early 1990s in New Haven. At the past two weeks’ training session, Pastore was one of the 14 presenters. Others included professors from Yale Law School, staff from Yale’s Child Study Center, and former New York Assistant Chief Lou Anemone.
Pastore gave a retrospective look at community policing, said Francia. He recalled how Pastore described problem-solving in the old Jewish neighborhood on Legion Avenue a half-century ago on Sunday mornings.
Many customers did not feed the meters when they went in to get bagels on Sunday morning. “The city wanted the revenue,” Francia said. And the merchants didn’t want the customers to be angry. So Pastore went down to Legion Avenue with nickels.
“He fed the meters himself,” Francia said.“That was his way to solve a problem. A little outside-of-the box thinking. That’s an idea that drives community policing. Not every solution is giving a ticket.”
Three out of the four New Haven assistant chiefs recalled that when they themselves were sergeants things were a lot different. Assistant Chief Thaddeus Reddish received formal leadership training a full two years after he made sergeant, he said. Assistant Chief Luiz Casanova said he went to formal training as a lieutenant, never as a sergeant. Assistant Chief Archie Generoso said he never went as a young sergeant, period.
“This is great for them [the new sergeants]. We want to create future leaders. In that room are the future chiefs of the New Haven police department,” Casanova said.
A second training is scheduled this summer for the assistant chiefs and other supervisory staff.