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Identity & Community

Pittsburgh Police Officers to Undergo Science-Based Leadership Training

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Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay has said the city’s officers must “be willing to change” in order to improve morale, increase community trust and be more responsive to meet the needs of citizens.

As part of that effort, officers will attend a behavioral science-based leadership training program from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“It encompasses psychological concepts, behavioral concepts, group dynamics, information on leadership thought processes, among other things,” said Cmdr. Jennifer Ford.

John Warren, manager of Administrative Services with the Pittsburgh Police, said the program was first developed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“It’s a model that the military has been using since the mid-1970s when it emerged from the Vietnam era, and we recognized within the military that we had to undergo fundamental changes within our organization,” Warren said.

Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar said the training will equip officers with the tools they need to understand the social and psychological underpinnings of workplace challenges.

“So that officers and leaders, instead of becoming frustrated, they have a better way of coping and understanding the dynamics of the interaction and have other tools to deal with it,” Bucar said.

Ford said the training course will be available to anyone in the bureau who is interested, including command staff, rank-and-file officers and non-sworn employees of the bureau. She said about 80 people have expressed interest in attending.

“We’re hoping to get better buy-in if we expose more of our officers to it,” Ford said. “We eventually want to develop our own in-house instructors, which the IACP allows, so we can provide the course to everyone … in the bureau.”

The program takes place in one-week chunks over the course of three months. According to the IACP website, the interactive training utilizes small group case studies, videos, role playing and class exercises to reinforce learning.”

City Council on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a $50,000 expenditure for the training program. A final vote is scheduled for Tuesday.