For 10 weeks, Ramsey Police Capt. Tim Dwyer gave up his family to attend an intensive management and leadership program.
The hardest thing about attending the Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command was being away from his family, said the father of three.
Dwyer completed the program May 25 with his 31 fellow classmates.
There were officers from Nebraska, Nevada, Illinois, Florida and Wisconsin in his class, Dwyer said.
Dwyer and his classmates had the chance to take master level courses in management and management theory, organizational behavior, human resource for law enforcement, budgeting, staffing allocations and personnel deployment.
“The classes were very intensive,” Dwyer said.
They prepare law enforcement managers for more senior management positions by combining academic principals with practical applications, he said.
His favorite courses were in the human resources field, from selection and promotions to labor management relations, Dwyer said
They had very good instructors with experiences in several municipal settings and they covered topics like civil liabilities do and don’ts and the legal aspects of discipline, he said.
He found the class on improving performance through training to be very interesting, Dwyer said.
“I really enjoyed that because training is near and dear to my heart,” he said.
One of his goals is to bring the best training to the Ramsey Police Department that he can and that it will be cost effective, Dwyer said.
Some of the course work also covered the newer generation of officers coming up through the ranks.
Among the challenges departments face with the newer officers is their work ethic and use of technology, Dwyer said.
“They have a totally different work ethic than those of us who have been around longer,” he said.
While agencies will not be able to change the new officers’ work ethic, they can set expectations, communicate that and hold people accountable, Dwyer said.
Although Dwyer chose the Northwestern program for its academic rigor, he found the requirements of the initial course extremely challenging.
He had to research and write a 30-page paper and then condense it to a five-page summary, Dwyer said.
Dwyer’s paper was titled “Defining job expectations to support effective performance evaluations.”
“I have a new appreciation for paper writing and research,” he said.
Research is done very differently than when he was in college 25 years ago, Dwyer said.
In addition to learning new research technology, Dwyer and his classmates studied the development of non-law enforcement management and leadership principles through history, beginning with the early Roman Empire.
It was something he did not expect and he wanted to get to the meat-and-potatoes of current day law enforcement management, Dwyer said.
“It was really intense the first week,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer’s next challenge came in the police resource analysis class.
There was a great deal of algebra with formulas for every thing, Dwyer said.
He and a lot of his classmates struggled with the math, he said.
Despite the challenges, Dwyer finished his classes with an A average.
“It was a wonderful accomplishment and I am proud I had the experience,” said Dwyer, who has been with the department since 1990.
The program has made him a more confident leader, he said.
Since returning, Dwyer has taken steps to have one-on-one communications with this staff.
He has learned the importance of having in-person discussions with his sergeants rather an using e-mail all the time, Dwyer said.
Dwyer is also working to increase the responsibilities of his four sergeants and empower them more as first-line supervisors.
Although Dwyer has always tried to lead by example, he is now making efforts to defined his expectations more closely, he said.
Dwyer said he is grateful that the city leaders and Chief Jim Way believed in him and gave him the opportunity to attend the program.
Tammy Sakry is at firstname.lastname@example.org