One never knows exactly where life’s tracks will take you. The School of Police Staff and Command is not for the faint of heart. The course description even refers to it as “intense”. But Sergeant Chris Hurst of the Lowell Police Department found himself in the role of a student throughout 2016.
In any field it’s important to learn new things even with decades of experience. Sergeant Hurst has been with the LPD since 1994. After a promotion to a supervisory role he was required to take the School of Police Staff and Command course through Northwestern University which is only offered every three years in this area. Officers in a leadership role benefit from the class by learning higher level aspects of running a police department.
The 10 week curriculum was taught in weekly segments throughout the year. During his week in school each month Sgt. Hurst did not have any duties in the department in order to focus on classwork. The three weeks between instruction were used to study as well as research and write papers. Hurst said he authored approximately 10 assignments in addition to a larger research paper turned in toward the end of the class.
Leadership aspects of the program were the easy part as Sgt. Hurst has this experience from his time in the army and department roles including field training officer, maintaining personnel files, and supervising other officers. However resource allocation concepts were new and confusing at first. But after a day or so on the topic it became easier.
When asked what he found to be most beneficial after completing the course Sgt. Hurst noted networking with other supervisors helped share ideas. Budgeting techniques were also an area of interest for Hurst. He also notes there was a lot of work involved. During a recount of his experience it was revealed one of the assignments for class was written in a remote cabin up north. Just an officer, a computer, a candle, some thoughts, and hope that the computer’s battery would last led to writing inspiration.
Sgt. Hurst will take what he learned and apply it to his efforts within the department. Remember that big research paper he worked on? Students selected an idea, researched the concept, and determined whether it could be applied within their department. The subject of his report detailed a physical fitness program.
Upon completion of the paper Chief Bukala had to sign off on it. When it was returned to Sgt. Hurst a note was included indicating the program would be introduced to Lowell Police Department officers. The department has a voluntary compliance physical fitness regimen in place but Hurst’s plan will provide officers with further direction and tracking. In addition friendly in-house competition will encourage the team as a whole to be more physically fit.
Sgt. Hurst completed the School of Police Staff and Command class in November 2016. His countless hours spent reading, studying, and writing paid off. He received a 4.0! The quiet guy who works night shift and prefers to be out of the spotlight should still stand proud and be congratulated on such an accomplishment. The police department and Lowell community is a better place under his watch.
**Photos of Sgt. Hurst used with his permission.