I'm proud to associate with a fraternity of police
leaders where great servants have made sacrifices to improve
democratic policing. But my challenges as police chief are markedly
different from most.
head a police department that has evaded most of the public
scandals, drama, historical antagonism, violent crime waves, and
controversies so prevalent in the chronicles of police's greatest
servant leaders. In Arlington, Texas, we have never had a major
scandal involving on-duty behavior of more than one officer and
have never experienced a mass civil disturbance. I'd like to talk
today about how I became chief and about Arlington, how my
department became the way it is, and what we hope to achieve in the
entered policing at the Arlington Police Department in 1983, two
weeks after I was graduated from the University of Texas at
Arlington with a degree in biology. I developed an admiration for
policing as a boy while working at my dad's gasoline station. My
perception of police officers was positive despite growing up in a
predominantly minority, high-crime, and economically depressed area
of Fort Worth, Texas. I admired the stature, professional demeanor,
and zeal for helping others police officers exemplified. That same
zeal has been a driving force throughout my career, even as I
rapidly rose through the ranks.
key turning point in my career came in a visit with Arlington City
Manager Bill Kirchhoff in 1987, four years after I joined the
force. I asked Mr. Kirchhoff for direction on advancing my police
career. He advised me to obtain graduate education. I enrolled in a
master's degree program the following semester.
and one-half years later, I completed my Master of Public
Administration degree, followed by a Doctorate of Urban and Public
Administration. My graduate educational experience taught me the
value of continuous learning and improvement. It convinced me that
ignorance and isolation from the broader body of knowledge limited
me individually, and my department collectively, to inbred service
department has been stable, innovative, and effective in public
service. Thus, my challenge as chief has been to continue that
tradition, even through periods of dramatic social change. My
successes have come as a result of defining and applying the
formula that allowed my predecessors to facilitate and manage
change. My city is changing.
The City of Arlington, Texas
Arlington is located in north central
Texas, encompassing 101 square miles, approximately 15 miles
equidistant from Dallas and Fort Worth. A mayor and an eight-member
city council govern the city. The mayor and three of the council
members are elected at large, with the remaining five elected from
single-member districts. The city manager appoints the police
City of Arlington, Texas, has ranked among America's fastest
growing cities over the past 20 years. Since 1980, the population
has grown from 150,000 to 340,000. During that same period,
minority representation in the population increased from 5 percent
to over 40 percent. The African-American, Latino, and Asian
populations all more than doubled relative to the rest of the
population between 1990 and 2000. The police department has more
than doubled in workload and staffing. The budget has increased
approximately 500 percent. Among America's 35 fastest growing
cities with more than 100,000 residents, only one--a Florida city
full of retirees--reduced crime as quickly as Arlington.
Vandergriff brought rapid growth to Arlington. As mayor in the
1950s, he visited Anaheim, California, and decided he wanted to
pattern Arlington, then a sleepy suburb with a small college, after
that city. Subsequently, we dammed rivers to form Lake Arlington
and attracted a giant General Motors assembly plant. Population
booms in southwest and southeast Arlington resulted. Six Flags Over
Texas amusement park opened in 1961, launching the city into the
entertainment and tourism industry. The Washington Senators
baseball team moved to Arlington and became the Texas Rangers in
1972, spurring more economic growth and development.
Arlington is home to the University of
Texas at Arlington, a 23,000-student institution of higher
education that began as a small agriculture college. With major
urban centers Dallas to the east and Fort Worth immediately west,
Arlington became a popular bedroom community for many commuters.
Many vintage 1970s apartment complexes were constructed to
accommodate the young and rapidly growing mobile population.
Consequently, Arlington never developed a traditional "downtown"
central business district. Much of the business and commerce
activity occurs at strategically located regional malls and
neighborhood strip shopping centers.
Arlington is challenged to deal with both
our past and future. Residents continue to build bigger and bigger
houses while some older residential areas and apartments have begun
to show manifestations of urban decay. This dynamic mix of new and
old housing stock, stable and transitional neighborhoods, and
rapidly increasing numbers of residents for whom English is their
second language has forced the police to seek new and innovative
ways to address neighborhood quality-of-life issues.
History of the Police Department
Arlington Police Department has a history of stability, innovation,
and successful management. I am only the city's fifth police chief
first police chief to attend the FBI National Academy graduated in
1941. The department was fully immersed in crime prevention and
community relations in the 1960s and 1970s. We conducted an annual
"Safety Town" summer camp at a local mall in the 1960s. This camp
taught children crime prevention and vehicle safety strategies. The
department had a decentralized Crime Prevention Unit that by the
mid-1970s was conducting business and residential security
1985, under the leadership of police chief David Kunkle, the
department adopted the community policing philosophy. In 1986, we
made a bachelor's degree the minimum education requirement for
officers without prior law enforcement experience. The department
implemented a vigorous work force diversity campaign in 1987.
Through the early 1990s, the department
developed several innovative technologies and community-oriented
policing projects. In 1991, we developed the Southeast Arlington
Community Action Team. This was the first major effort to involve
citizens in policing their own communities. In 1992, we implemented
our first bicycle patrols and police storefront. That same year,
every police employee received "Valuing Cultural Diversity"
training. We also formed an apartment owners' association to
address endemic problems in multifamily dwellings.
1994 and 1995, we focused on technological improvement by upgrading
our computer-aided dispatch system, Automated Fingerprint
Identification system, Mobile Data Terminals, and Gang Intelligence
PC network. In 1996, we developed and adopted geographic policing
and problem solving while opening a new full-service decentralized
police service center. In that same year, we were named by Good
Housekeeping magazine in an article about "America's Eight Best
Suburban Police Departments."
1998, the department began a "road rage" initiative. In 1999, I
became the city's first African-American police chief. We increased
educational minimums for police assistant chiefs to master's
degrees and required all new hires to have bachelor's degrees. Last
year, we implemented one of America's first vehicle stop data
programs, selected the first female motorcycle officers, and
participated in both national and international officer exchange
efforts. Earlier this year, we picked the city's first female
deputy chief of police.
During the mid through late 1990s, the
department obtained grant funding to assist with many staffing,
automation, and technology initiatives. For instance, we
participated in many U.S. Department of Justice initiatives,
including the Universal Hiring Programs, COPS More, Troops to COPS,
Problem Solving Partnerships, Domestic Violence Reduction, and
After 67 years of stability, and
especially since 1985, corporate expectations of success and
innovation remain high. We've enjoyed an almost corruption-free
history. History tells us that enhancing public safety and
neighborhood quality of life also reduces crime.
How We Achieve
the professional policing and crime-fighting standards of the
1980s, the Arlington Police Department was a good and successful
department. The 1980s brought tremendous population growth to my
city. Arlington was originally designed to build out at 50,000
population: a big suburb. Now it's a city--our population is
comparable to places like Minneapolis and Miami--and our police
department recognized it lacked the historical foundation to
operate effectively in an urban context.
Though proud of the department's history
of stability, newly appointed Police Chief David Kunkle established
the course the police would ultimately follow. Kunkle recognized
that the community it policed granted police authority. He, like
Sir Robert Peel, believed that to the extent that police earn the
public's respect, the need to use force to achieve police
objectives lessens proportionately.
Finally, Kunkle believed that police
officers capable of adjusting to change would provide desirable
short-term policing solutions. More importantly, he recognized that
police officers and supervisors who were inclined to adjust and
adapt to sociological changes were essential components of a
culture of professional stability and publicly ordained successes.
Simply stated, the Arlington Police Department was expected to
consist of a competent, professional work force responsive and
accountable to, and reflective of, the community.
competent, professional work force, by Arlington police
definitions, consists of knowledgeable, learning, thinking, and
experimenting executives and supervisors who lead and manage. The
line consists of intelligent agents who are representative of the
service population. Achieving this mix of human resources has been
the key to my organization's success.
have learned over the years that the recipe for assembling and
maintaining a competent and professional work force contains three
ingredients: total commitment to higher education, work force
diversity, and professional management. The three ingredients are
distinct but interrelated. The linchpin, thus most significant of
the three, is the minimum entry-level educational requirement of a
A Commitment to Higher Education
I became an Arlington officer in 1983, police officers were
expected to be militaristic, submissive to authority, and follow
policy and supervisory directions. Policies attempted to address
every conceivable situation so as to release officers from the
necessity of thinking for themselves. Decisions were made at the
top of the organization. Communication flowed mostly one way: from
the top down. That authoritarian style of management stifled
creativity and innovation, but was necessary when employees were
expected to fail.
Today, we have greater respect for the
autonomy of police officers. We recognize that police officers must
be able to understand and apply the law, the nature of social
problems, and the psychology of the persons whose attitude toward
the law may differ from theirs. According to the Commission on
Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies:
Officers who have received a broad general
education have a better opportunity to gain a more thorough
understanding of society, to communicate more effectively with
citizens, and to engage in the exploration of new ideas and
Officers with bachelor's degrees tend to
accept change more readily. The college experience prepares
officers to understand that success breeds failure, and thus that
continuous learning and improvement is essential for long-term
success. It teaches employees respect for differences and engenders
the ability to handle difficult or ambiguous situations with
greater creativity and innovation. It forces communication with
people from all walks of life, thus sharpening those skills and
lessening reliability on physical confrontation to resolve
degree brings with it an air of self-respect and professional
demeanor that builds organizational morale. It tends to enhance
their research and analytical skills, preparing them for solving
complex problems without the need for strict supervision. Educated
officers tend to have a better grasp of organizational imperatives
and are inclined to work toward altruistic goals.
Finally, the bachelor's degree requirement
has enhanced our work force diversification efforts more than
anything else we can identify.
phased in the college degree requirement over time. In 1986, new
recruits without police experience immediately were required to
have a bachelor's degree. New recruits with at least two years of
police experience with at least an associate's degree were also
eligible for employment. The policy was updated in 1999 to require
all new hires, regardless of prior experience, to hold a four-year
college hour requirement for promotion to police captain that
culminated in requiring a four-year degree by 1989 was imposed.
Candidates in all promotional processes beginning January 1, 2000,
are required to have four-year college degrees.
police department in 1987 was 92 percent Anglo, 3.5 percent
African-American, 4 percent Hispanic, and less than 1 percent
other; 7.6 percent of sworn personnel were females. There was one
female sergeant. One Latino sergeant was the only minority
supervisor. Fifty-four percent of the department had at least a
bachelor's degree. Today, the department is 71 percent Anglo, 12
percent African-American, 12 percent Hispanic, 3 percent Asian, and
2 percent other; 16.1 percent are females. Twenty-two of the
department's 97 supervisors are ethnic minorities, and eight are
Eighty percent of sworn personnel and 85
percent of our patrol force now have bachelor's degrees. Only one
other sizeable city in the country--Lakewood, Colorado--has a
significantly higher percentage of patrol officers with four-year
degrees. Our work force now is more educated, empowered, diverse,
and productive than ever before. Raising our educational standards
didn't hurt diversity. It helped.
Arlington officers have a great amount of
autonomy. Officers are expected to be computer literate, conduct
community meetings using PowerPoint for presentations, and to read,
interpret, prepare, and analyze statistical data. Supervisors are
expected to analyze trends and data using contemporary sociological
research methods. Sergeants and lieutenants routinely employ survey
research to determine citizen priorities for service delivery
requests for changes in police policy or protocols submitted to my
office by line-level employees are accompanied by thorough research
documentation. Officers are expected to recognize trends and
develop cost-benefit analyses in weighing operational options. The
result is very well-reasoned, high-quality, and dependable
decisions, mostly attributable to a well-educated work force.
A Commitment to Workforce Diversity
Arlington, rapid population growth has resulted in major
demographic changes in the city population. Many critics believed
that raising educational standards would adversely affect
department diversification efforts. To the contrary, our department
has the highest entry-level standards in Texas, yet is the most
racially and ethnically diverse among major cities. We are rated
16th nationally by the International Association of Women in
Policing and are climbing in gender diversity.
Optimal police service in a democratic
society cannot be provided to a community without police officers
who are fluent in its language and culture. A culturally diverse
work force is difficult if not impossible to attain without support
from the various constituent communities. Obtaining the requisite
community support often hinges on building a trusting relationship.
A trusting relationship is built over time as mutual respect
educated and sophisticated work force is better at understanding
cultural differences even when they don't have experience with the
other cultures. During a recent visit to the department, for
example, The Heritage Foundation's Eli Lehrer rode along with an
officer who responded to a noise complaint caused by a practicing
Samoan dance group. The group didn't have a church and practiced in
back yards in the daytime so as to disturb as few people as
possible. The officers understood this and negotiated with the
neighbors to reach a solution that left everyone pretty happy and
let the practice go on. The officers also stayed for a few minutes
to watch the practice and see what was really going on. This is a
good example of respect for diversity, but neither of the officers
involved was Samoan.
force diversification cannot successfully proceed without
recognizing these historical challenges. Too often, police
departments decide to start up massive recruitment campaigns
without addressing historical rifts with ethnic communities. Images
of police activity in minority and immigrant communities 30 to 40
years ago vividly depict the police as racist and oppressive.
Those images live today in the minds and
hearts of many people in those communities. No amount of pay,
promises, or professionalism will overcome the impact of history
unacknowledged, unaddressed, and unresolved. Equal protection under
the law requires equal representation under the badge.
ethnic minorities are first-generation college students. Consistent
with Gresham's Law of Economics, college graduates want to achieve
maximum value for their college degrees. They perceive that an
employer who requires a degree recognizes its value. Arlington's
experience proves that you can raise educational standards, improve
police service, and increase diversity at the same time.
Building a solid police work force
involves lots of hard work, but it does not involve lowering
standards. In fact, we found that the best way to increase
diversity is to raise standards. We didn't accept the fable that
lower hiring standards were necessary to increase departmental
diversity. Every minority and female officer I've spoken with has
been staunchly opposed to lowering standards. Low standards sends a
message to minority communities that the department believes they
are not capable of achieving at "normal" levels.
good start is for more departments to follow recommendations
published by The Police Executive Research Forum in a 1991
discussion paper on work force diversity. The article proposed that
any discriminatory effect from the college requirement could be
overcome through innovative personnel management programs.
Recommended techniques included eliminating programs based on, or
that give weight to, ranking on a single written exam, eliminating
residency requirements, and being more flexible and accommodating
in scheduling exams and interviews. Arlington successfully adopted
all of these recommendations.
degree requirements encouraged many of our officers to pursue
higher education. Let me tell you about officer Lonnie Wright. He
grew up in a single-female-headed household in the ghetto on the
south side of Fort Worth, Texas. He frequently reflects on the days
when he was involved in gang membership. He came to work for APD in
1983 as a jailer, then became a police officer.
education requirements motivated Lonnie to enroll in college and
obtain his degree. He, like so many other officers, has done that,
and today he is a sergeant in the North District. He also is senior
pastor of the Arlington Baptist Church and is instilling in his six
children, some of whom are adopted, the importance of a college
had an opportunity to welcome a new police academy class of 24
recruits to the department on July 23. The 14 ethnic minorities and
females in the class of 24 new hires, without exception, cited
Arlington's degree requirement as the primary factor that led them
to the department. One person talked about the Arlington School
Resource Officer who motivated him to attend college and become an
final ingredient of this three-pronged recipe for success is a
professional approach to managing the organization. This
professional management requires a culture of winning, leading by
example, democratic governance, authority commensurate with
responsibility, high standards, working with the rank and file
instead of against them, selling ideas instead of generating
mandates, and perseverance. This can be observed in our process of
transitioning the APD from community-oriented policing to
geographic problem solving.
Geographic policing is a
community-oriented policing strategy built on problem-solving
methodology. Police administration started moving the work force
into geographic policing approximately one year prior to
knew the entire work force would see enormous changes. Community
policing asks officers to partner with community groups and to see
arrest as only one of the tools at their disposal. It's an
important and valuable idea, but it alone often lacks
accountability measures necessary to produce the results we were
Rather than decreeing the whole
organization would adopt a new philosophy and then diving in head
first, we conducted internal focus groups with employees from
various segments within the department and separate groups
involving citizens in the community. These focus groups were
designed to demystify the transition process.
After completing approximately two months
of focus groups, a monthly newsletter detailing elements of the new
policing methodology was circulated. We gathered employee input and
addressed questions in other newsletters.
Approximately six months prior to
implementation, supervisors together, followed by patrol officers
and detectives in their peer groups, received intensive training.
They learned about problem-oriented policing. This is the idea that
police officers should confront crime not as sterile categories of
offenses like burglaries or auto thefts, but rather as particular
problems which affect individuals in particular neighborhoods. For
example, instead of attacking burglaries on a citywide level, an
officer trained in the POP model would look at the problem of house
break-ins between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. by youth gang
members riding bicycles.
also incorporated principles of geographic policing by stressing
that our command staff would have responsibilities not only for
shifts full of officers, but also for getting to know and
understand the problems of particular parts of town.
other sworn personnel then received geographic policing training so
that every employee in every position within the police department
would be able to articulate his or her role in successfully
implementing and adopting geographic policing. Non-commissioned,
non-supervisory "front-line" employees were invited to management
meetings so they could see and take pride in the fact that their
work supports the successes of geographic policing.
Geographic policing then was implemented
in East Arlington, the oldest, most vocal, politically active, and
arguably the most challenging residential area to provide police
services. Six months and many successes and buy-in at the officer
and community level later, we decided to implement geographic
Under our system, patrol sergeants have
geographic accountability for service delivery to their beat 24
hours daily. A detective works closely with the team of officers
assigned to every beat in the city. Lieutenants are 24-hour sector
commanders. Arlington's geographic policing model clearly defines
the sergeant's role as the primary beat manager.
lieutenants' role is much more flexible and subjective. Sergeants
manage beats while lieutenants are responsible for sectors. Sectors
are comprised of three police beats. Lieutenants have both
geographic sector responsibility and operational responsibility for
a patrol shift. They have take-home cars, a flexible schedule, and
mobile phones and pagers. They are expected to respond to critical
incidents no matter when they happen. Arlington police lieutenants
are senior department commanders. They report to the deputy police
chief. Both sergeants and lieutenants have the responsibility for
scanning, analyzing, responding to, and assessing problems.
Every other week, we hold a managers'
meeting, modeled on New York City's Compstat. In the meetings, we
view maps and statistics from the citywide down to the neighborhood
level, and we ask commanders questions about what they are doing to
address crime problems. Crime analysts report on a litany of crime
and non-crime issues, including natural deaths, violent crime,
property crime, and disturbances. We strongly encourage
collaboration between different parts of our department and
collaboration with other city agencies. Unlike New York, the
atmosphere is low-key and non-confrontational.
process produces real results. Patrol Lieutenant Mark Weibel
recognized a dramatic increase in loitering, vagrancy, and public
disorder offenses in his sector. He noticed a concurrent increase
in the homeless population. He formed a special coalition involving
his sergeants, area business owners, neighborhood associations,
social service providers, and beat officers. He found that two new
day-labor businesses had opened in his sector and served as magnets
for the homeless population.
Lieutenant Weibel's efforts worked. The
city council passed new restrictions on locating day-labor
businesses. Social service agencies provided day and night shelter
for the homeless populations. Grocery storeowners, determined to
combat litter and broken glass, agreed to ban sales of bottled
beer. Neighborhood associations' "Amigos in the Park" program
created jobs for the poor children by paying them to keep the
neighborhood and parks free of trash.
me tell you a story of another success stemming from our new
geographic approach. Sergeant Jerry Hataway noticed an alarming
increase in alcohol-related driving offenses in his beat. Numerous
arrestees identified a large nightclub in his beat as the source of
the problem. Sergeant Hataway arranged a meeting involving club
managers, Alcohol Beverage Commission Enforcement officials, area
residents, the Nuisance Abatement Team, and other police
Nightclub management agreed to strictly
enforce underage drinking requirements, refuse to serve intoxicated
patrons, and require all employees to complete classes on
recognizing and handling intoxicated patrons. The citizens were
able to articulate the need for the business to be a good neighbor.
The Nuisance Abatement Team and Alcohol Enforcement officials
articulated the severe legal consequences of failing to address the
problems. Alcohol-related problems fell drastically in Sergeant
Today, three years after full
implementation, many city departments and services have followed
APD's lead and adopted the geographic concept of service delivery.
Some critics along the way tried to convince us that the concept
would not work. Pertinacity, persistence, and perseverance overcame
any pessimism. Professional management paid off.
Chief Kunkle recognized a need to
professionalize and diversify the department's management in 1985.
He examined existing promotional systems and replaced them with
assessment center processes that selected for desirable management
traits. Artificial barriers that impeded minorities and females
from competing for promotional opportunities were removed. Two such
barriers were seniority and written-exam-based selection
Police unions favor selection systems that
award points based on seniority, but those systems tend to have an
adverse impact on minorities and women. Minorities and women are
relatively new entrants into the police profession. Seniority-based
systems tend to favor older, less educated employees. Our
experience also indicates that selection systems based solely on
written examination scores adversely affect minorities. A pass-fail
written exam, combined with an assessment center process, has
proven a more valid solution.
eliminating barriers, a promotional process was created that, over
time, has created ethnic and gender diversity up and down the chain
of command and throughout the breadth of the police department.
These supervisors double as community ambassadors and role models.
I communicate with large numbers of young people who commit to
attending college so they can achieve their goal of becoming an
Arlington police officer. Many Arlington police officers who
instruct criminal justice classes at one of several area
universities have observed the same phenomenon.
final key element in professional management is a compressed
hierarchy of command. At APD, sergeants are line-level supervisors.
Lieutenant is the next higher level, and is the highest rank to
which one can competitively promote. Deputy chiefs followed by
assistant chiefs are the subsequent higher ranks.
police chief appoints all incumbents in both executive ranks. The
ability to appoint executive staff grants the chief the ability to
handpick professional managers with a track record of superior
performance without the constraints of a rank-ordered system. This
forces the police chief to be entirely accountable for the
performance of his administration.
Arlington, professional management is a continuous process. We
subscribe to management journals, continually review management
literature, and hold membership in professional associations. We
recently reviewed a case study detailing why the Container Store
was named as the "Best Employer to Work For" in America. Not
satisfied with being a great police department, we continually seek
to be the greatest organization of any kind.
vision for the APD is driven by a personal experience in 1991. The
day before the birth of our second child, my wife and I spent
several hours at her medical doctor's office. We knew that day he'd
had little sleep the night before. We also knew that our second
child would be delivered the following morning.
we arrived at the hospital around 4:00 a.m., her doctor was already
there. We found he had been called away from his office earlier the
prior evening and had been attending to patients all night long. He
had obtained little sleep for two days now, but came into our
hospital room, sat down, and patiently talked with us until we ran
out of questions. When he left our room approximately 20 minutes
later, my wife Denise said something to me I'll never forget. She
said, "My physician is one of the busiest doctors in the area, but
every time he sees me he makes me feel like I'm his only
believe every citizen whose life is touched by the police should
have this same testimony. It can happen when you employ a
competent, professional, and intelligent work force. Total
commitment to higher education, work force diversity, and
professional management conceives a results orientation, winning
culture, constant learning, valued diversity, and impeccable
Another day has been added to the rich and
thrilling history of American policing: rich because the police
mission has grown and changed over the past 160-plus years. It is
thrilling to see the work of great men like Neil Behan, Lee Brown,
Daryl Stephens, Chuck Ramsey, Bill Bratton, David Kunkle, and Ed
Flynn, police chiefs who committed their lives, intellect, and
honor to define and uphold the nobility in policing. Policing is
made rich again with the contributions of other professionals like
Chuck Wexler, Sylvester Daughtry, Dan Rosenblatt, and Hubert
Williams, who work tirelessly to help law enforcement professionals
master the art and comprehend the science of contemporary
--Dr. Theron Bowman is Chief of Police in