The IU Police Academy is a highly regarded program that is funded by Indiana University to train highly qualified police officers in the state of Indiana. The academy has a long history having started its first class in 1972. As the program has a long history, we see a lot of internal culture and structures of organizations. As I have only been a part of the IU Police Academy since 2013, I have somewhat of an idea of how change has influenced the program, but it is clear that there has been significant change over many years even before I became a part of the organization. Some of the biggest issues facing the organization are actively being resolved, however there are many issues I wish to discuss in this analysis.
One of the largest selling points of the IU Police Academy (known as IUPA) is their marketing professionalism within law enforcement. IUPA is the only higher-education institute that offers a program like ours, where students can become certified police officers working part time for the Indiana University Police Department and while being full-time students (Protect IU, 2018). With recent changes in administration, the IU Police Academy has been undergoing major changes. As with any change, there can be good and bad that come with it.
Over the past couple years, the IUPA has made a significant change, specifically because there was a change in leadership running the academy. This last year, Major Nick Luce started his first year as head instructor for the IUPA creating a whole new structure and program for the academy. Major Luce was a graduate of the IU Police Academy and worked his way through the ranks beginning as part time officer, to full time officer, and eventually working his way up to becoming the rank of Major. I feel this is pertinent to the IUPA as it shows just how well the program works at creating strong individuals and leaders. Major Luce brings with him many new ideas and ways of thinking, and this is why I feel the IUPA is such an important topic to discuss . In accepting his new role this past year, he has begun and continues to look at multi-frame thinking and finding new ways to restructure the program that has been going on for decades. This restructuring would include reframing everything the academy encompasses including the 0600 hour PT as well as looking at the finer details including academic instructors and the time spent on certain categories of learning.
When I was in the IU Police Academy in 2013, there was a different style of leadership, a different program all together. It is amazing to me to see first-hand some of these changes. Major Luce came into this position with a clear mindset knowing what types of things he felt could be improved. One topic we discussed in our readings was the idea of Strategy, which includes plans, perspectives, patterns, position, and ploy. I believe Major Luce came into the program with a strategy in mind, “[A] conscious and intentional course of action” (Bolman and Deal, 2017). One specific change that has happened has been the change in the way physical training happens in the mornings. He has begun restructuring this to include less of just running (anywhere from 2 to 5 miles) every day to incorporating a more instructor-led high intensity type of fitness to include functional fitness as priority. Though running is still of importance, it is important to include other forms of fitness. I think even when you look at the way the Major has begun restructuring the fitness side of the academy, you get an idea of how positive this reframing can be for an organization, specifically one that produces professional employees responsible for future life or death situations.
Beyond fitness, there are major changes within academics. Specifically, some that I have noticed have been changes in how we focus our attention within different classes. When I was in the academy, we spent a lot of time learning specifics rather than looking at things from a real-world perspective in how one would actually approach something. The best example I can think of is Emergency Medicine and first aid, CPR, and use of tactical medicine. These are all topics of interest to me as I have had more intensive classes beyond the police academy on these topics. However, prior to this newer way of thinking and reframing, cadets would learn the specifics of first aid and how to patch wounds, types of tourniquets, types of wounds common. While these are all extremely important topics, we would never learn about practical application. We would learn types of tourniquets without really taking the time to teach cadets how to use them and how to use them in high stress situations. This was a common theme in most all of the classes and is something that I have adamantly attempted to push to change. With new restructuring of classes, I've already seen a difference in relatable, practical approaches to teaching.
One recommendation I have in regard to this change is the structure that the Major has started even in his first year of charge, is to use a more lateral approach in deciding future changes. While I firmly believe that the Major has already accomplished a great deal of restructuring within the academy curriculum, I think using Bolman and Deal's “Lateral Coordination” approach by use of meetings, task forces, and other small groups, there could be an even greater influx of change leading in a positive direction. Specifically, I imagine small groups of instructors and IUPA staff members meeting through the year prior to the summer academy. They would work on coordinating and evaluating the classes they taught, looking at how the students responded, the test scores, and the practical application they were involved in. Task forces or small groups could, “[S]ynchronize the development of new products or services” or in this case, work to improve already instilled programs and develop and transform new ones (Bolman and Deal, 2017).
These new programs and restructuring are key to success and continuing to see success in the future. Why Restructure the IUPA? As Bolman and Deal discuss, there are many reasons to restructure an organization. This can include environmental shifts, technology changes, growth within organizations, and finally the big one I have discussed, leadership changes (Bolman and Deal, 2017). Restructuring is a challenging problem at times, though I see it is a major benefit to the future of the IUPA. Major Luce's approach carries many frames of leadership, and I feel that the correct amount of discipline and coordination will lead to higher standards in turn producing great leaders in the world.
Another issue within the IUPA is the training students receive and the program directs to obtain these higher standards. Often times training can be hard to coordinate, especially in large groups such as the academy cadets. One issue that has been a problem in years past, as well as currently has been the issue of too many people and not enough resources or instructors. The issue has been and still is quantity of employees over the quality. I have a few solutions for this problem using the Human Resource Frame. One is to, “hire the right people.” Bolman and Deal state that you should, “Know what you want,” and “Be selective” (Bolman and Deal, 2017). I see this as a solution to some of the academy cadets. I think with a more selective approach to hiring only dedicated, strong candidates for the program, we could reduce numbers and see a higher number of cadets passing the program overall. I also think we should, “invest in them,” and, “empower them” (Bolman and Deal, 2017). With fewer people, we could devote more time and effort to the cadets that are in the program, allowing for a better education in each academy class.
Along with these ideas, another similar one came to mind, that is promoting employees from within. While cadets are recruited from outside departments and agencies, instructors and young officers could be a benefit in regard to the academy. The idea of promoting officers from within, as Bolman and Deal state, “encourages both management and employees to invest time and resources in upgrading skills” (2017). This would benefit the academy as we could see more employees investing time and effort in teaching certain classes that they specialize in. This also comes from the top-down, as the leadership and command both from the IUPA and the IUPD must know their employees. They must know where the strengths and weaknesses lie within their organization, and in utilizing certain employees, such as long-time, invested workers, they could, “capitalize on [their] knowledge and skills” (Bolman and Deal, 2017).
One other thought while thinking in terms of quality training is utilizing resources effectively. This could include utilizing outside resources. If we are unable to promote enough resources from within the department, it is important to know that outside resources and promoting coalitions and alliances can be a large benefit. One major alliance that the IU Police department has is the Bloomington Police Department, the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, the Indiana State Police, and even the Department of Natural Resources. These departments are all qualified agencies that have very informative training for their own departments, so using them as resources is a strong and viable option for IUPD. Each department has employees that specialize in certain topics of interest and training. For example, the State Police deals a lot with accident reconstructing and K9 units. Also, on another end, the DNR can provide resources to new officers about other forms of law enforcement that may help promote their future careers. Coalitions are important for any organization, but I feel that law enforcement can benefit tremendously from all these outside resources. As for lack of internal instructors, it can be guaranteed that there will be outside instructors that are available to teach the academy cadets certain topics that our department may not have as much knowledge on.
One other important thing to note is that the IU Police department produces cadets that work in all different types of law enforcement. Once they graduate, they get their college degrees and then move on from IU. Some stay at IUPD and some move to other local departments. Some, however, go on to work for federal agencies, state police departments, and agencies all over the country. This, alone, is a coalition unlike any other. Having alumni of the IU Police Academy all over the US leads to more resources that one could imagine. In my mind, we can still utilize those resources by having Skype lessons or even having some of the previous students returning to teach the cadets. Though it may be costlier, it could be an effective tool for the future. The issue of cost leads into my next topic and problem that the IU Police Academy faces, budget and time.
Though budget and time are of concern, I have already been able to solve a few problems relating those issues. One of which being utilizing inside resources such as IU facilities for training and also using internal instructors from within the department. While coalitions can be so beneficial to accessing more resources, they can also be useful when it comes to budget and services. IUPD has had many people donate money and items in the past, I think through alliances, we could have even more access to monetary help for a program such as the academy. One idea being reaching out to previous alumni of the program as many of them move on to be successful in careers other than law enforcement. One idea I had is using a similar donation program to the IUPA that IU uses with its alumni. Donations could be accepted and applied to strengthen courses or instructor needs. Even if outside donations did not include money, outside resources being donated could be appreciated.
One other concept to focus on is how beneficial it can be to keep good employees. What I mean by this is that it is important that we keep our employees in the academy. While not all cadets graduate and stay to work for IU, we need to focus our attention on those that do. As was also explained in the Human Resource Frame, we must do a better job of investing in those who do stay to work. This means that we put most efforts in hiring internally, as I mentioned before, but also, we must do better to keep employees working for IUPD, particularly those interested in teaching. If we reward employees well, give them better salaries and benefits, in turn we may save so much more money in the end. Academy funds could be reduced just by hiring and keeping employees willing to teach academy cadets as a subset of their job description as a police officer. As said in chapter 7 of Reframing Organizations, “turnover hurts performance because newcomers' lack of experience, skills, and local knowledge increases errors and reduces efficiency” and in this case, reduces cost effectiveness (Bolman and Deal, 2017). The goal for the IU Police Academy is to have a spiral effect. We must hire cadets who graduate academy, and then in turn get hired by IUPD, they then teach and grow as officers and instructors with the end goal being to hold a position such as Major Luce has been able to obtain.
One easy way to promote good officers for IUPD and obtain good cadets for the academy is through recruitment. Over time, I have noticed that IUPD has had far and few between ways of recruiting officers except through alumni who spread the word about the academy. While word of mouth is a great way to recruit, I feel there could be some major changes made to help broaden diversity in the program, make the community more aware, and even work toward bridging the gap between students and the IUPA. “Forward-looking organizations take [diversity] seriously and build it into day-to-day management” (Bolman and Deal, 2017). The IU Police Academy as well as IUPD is a very forward-thinking police department, and one that I am proud to work for, however there could be more steps taken to build the diversity and recruitment even more. Some solutions I thought of would be to have more booths at events or to even have more part-time officer (who are also full-time students) speaking to different groups around campus and promoting the IU Police Academy. Promoting IUPD and IUPA by word of part-time officers would mean a lot to students who can relate more closely with them. By hosting more events with part-time officers and even having them eat and sit in dorms with students, I feel we could better help bridge this gap we still see. Most importantly, this could help promote more students to find interest in the program. Having been an undergraduate student and part-time officer, I must say that there have been many times where I met students interested in law enforcement on all levels who were not educated in the IUPA. The program IUPD offers is unlike any other in our nation, and we must advertise this. Also, if we are able to promote more diversity by reaching out to IU students, we could see so many more positive influences on not only the academy but also the department as a whole. To be a professional organization such as the IU Police Academy is, it is important to include all groups, races, genders to diversify and allow growth within the organization. Like I mentioned before, bridging the gap between our organization and others, I think IUPD reaching out to the IU community through programs such as, “Ask Zeus,” a social media project on IUPD's twitter accounts and Facebook account allowing the public to ask questions about our K9 Officer, Zeus and his K9 handler Officer Skaggs, can also be especially important. I think that being able to relate and support students, even through social media, is positive and empowering. As we all know we are in the day and age where social media is extremely prevalent and popular, particularly among college students, IUPA must keep up with their advertising in this way.
Overall, the program has done an excellent job and always produces prominent, professional, and forward-thinking police officers, something that I and our population should value. There are always things within an organization that would be beneficial to change. Restructuring can be a difficult process but with new leadership and restructuring, we can see major benefits, particularly as we are seeing at IUPD. Just like any other organization, the solutions we suggest may have some setback due to budgets, time, resources, and more, but it is important to constantly discuss and re-evaluate the organizations weaknesses and strengths and to think about ways to make the organization the best it can be. I am a firm believer in that there is always something new to learn, and I feel the same about how organizations function. There is always somewhere for an organization to go. Restructuring is one of many ways this can be thought of and done, but one way or another, it is something that must be done and valued within the organization. The IU Police Academy is a long-standing, prominent program that I am proud to have learned from. With new leadership, I know the program will only grow and hopefully, in a very positive direction.
...(download the rest of the essay above)