Comments Delivered by Lieutenant Colleen Stuart, Topeka Police Department
On December 2, 2016
Although this Command School program is young, it is already highly sought after. I recall feeling uneasy when Chief Brown announced in a Staff meeting he wanted to speak to LT Harden and I afterwards. As we sat with him he very quickly asked if we would both consider participating in the KU PMC LELA Command School beginning in January 2016. Chief Brown wanted to invest in his Commanders to prepare them for future roles within the department. I was honored to have been given the opportunity.
Afterwards, I began thinking of this year long program and what it would entail. I was a new LT at the time. While I had everything to learn, I knew discussion and networking was a large part of the program. What could I possibly contribute to a class full of experienced Chiefs, Sheriffs and Commanders from agencies across Kansas?
Over the course of the year, which was done before I was ready to let go of these amazing people; I took ideas back to my agency from our sessions- ideas like the one page project manager, the better understanding of how people are motivated and deal with conflict and the painful emotional intelligence profile. But I also learned much more than the lesson plans.
No matter the size of agency, there are similar issues and obstacles. When things go well we celebrate the same victories and we all share the same passion to protect and serve our communities. There are different leadership paths towards getting that job done; those that are at heart a street cop & soldier leading by example and from the front as our beloved CPT Dave Melton from the KCK PD did, leaders who are hardened administrators, no sugarcoating and seeing the bottom line but with a true heart for their people, and visionaries and innovators who look beyond the way things have always been done to what can be improved and done in a new way. Each person within my class had a slightly different view of how to lead, how to deal with a situation, and I absorbed everything I could while I was in their midst.
Before I go I would like to thank Jonathan- our principal instructor. Jonathan is the only non-law enforcement person I have met who seemed to really understand the quirks of our profession. He understands why law enforcement thinks like we do, he would laugh knowing our brand of humor- even dishing it out on occasion. He created a learning environment that was enjoyable, relatable and valuable. He also hurt right alongside us when our brother in blue was taken tragically. He does not wear a badge but will always be one of us in my book.
In closing, I appreciate the opportunity I was given to join this program. As a result I stand now a better law enforcement officer, a better version of myself, because of each person in my LELA #3 class. And I thank each one of them for sharing who they are. Thank you.