At a time when policing faces significant challenges, 31 Wisconsin law enforcement professionals worked together for nine months to become better leaders in their communities.
These committed public servants just graduated from the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Command College, a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Justice. It helps law-enforcement professionals improve their leadership and decision-making skills. Members of the graduating class hail from Marshfield to Mequon to Manitowoc—all corners of the state.
“Our program has a direct impact on both small communities and larger municipalities by equipping these future leaders to solve practical problems,” says director Robbi Dreifuerst. “In fact, four of our 2018 graduates have already been promoted to chief in their local law-enforcement agencies.”
Building public trust
This is the fifth group to complete the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Command College, launched in 2013 by UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies and coordinated by Brad Wentlandt, chief of police for Greenfield, Wis. It’s part of Continuing Studies’ Certified Public Manager Program, which trains managers in federal, state, and local government and in tribal and nonprofit organizations.
Along with courses on law-enforcement trends, budgeting, and ethics, students complete a research project designed to make their own organizations more effective. LeAnn Jones, for example, explored an emergency operations plan for the Town of Beloit. James Green worked on a public-safety radio communications system for the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.
All 31 students also collaborated on a final research project aimed at benefiting the law-enforcement profession as a whole. They came up with a website and social media aggregation tool for highlighting positive interactions between law-enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
“The website is a hub for statewide agencies to submit stories, videos, or audio to share the small wins—the daily positive experiences our officers have with the community,” says Jill Weisensel, a lieutenant in the Marquette University Police Department. “It’s an effort to increase transparency and build public trust.”
‘A boatload of confidence’
Weisensel was a speaker at the June 8 graduation ceremony in the UW Memorial Union, along with Wentlandt, Dean of Continuing Studies Jeffrey S. Russell, and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. She touched everyone in the room with her inspiring comments about leadership:
“There is no doubt in my mind that this program and this cohort will have an immeasurable impact on both the landscape of the profession and the communities we serve.”
Weisensel says the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Command College prepared her for the next step in her career, along with creating an invaluable statewide support network.
“The caliber of the people involved with the program—from the instructors to the class cohort—was just incredible. I walked away with an executive-level skill set and a boatload of confidence.”