Deputy SPD leader completes leadership training

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The Deputy Chief of the Seymour Police Department recently graduated from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Leadership Academy.

John Watson is the first Seymour officer to attend and graduate from the leadership academy. The graduation took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The academy is for veteran or newly promoted officers, and the graduate program focuses on excellent documentation and writing skills. Students learn personality assessments, leading with an outward mindset, as well as situational leadership.

According to policechiefmagazine.org, no two commanders lead alike, but if each of the LEADERSHIP attributes are applied in their leadership style, then the bases are covered.

These attributes – listening, education, attention to detail, direction, evolution, ingenuity, service, humor, integrity and people (LEADERSHIP) – are the key ingredients of successful leadership.

Watson said the academy is a four-week course over a four-month period, one week per month.

“We had to do research papers throughout the four weeks, and then our final was a staff study,” he said. “The course started in January, and we were supposed to finish a month early, but COVID spiked again, so we had to sit out a month and finish the 160-hour course in June.”

The staff study had to be something the officer’s police department didn’t have or something they had but wanted to change for the better.

“I did ours on a drone program, which we don’t have right now,” Watson said. “I think with our Project Lifesaver program and our SWAT team, it would be beneficial for us to have a drone program, so that’s what my team looked at.”

He said the things they learned were how to lead people and how to tell them why.

“We also learned personality profiles so we could figure out which personality each person dominates,” Watson said. “Are they a task-oriented person or are they more of a pat-on-the-back person, so we learned a lot about that.”

The class also learned to differentiate between motivated and reluctant employees to see where they are in their careers and how to motivate them and get them back on track.

The leadership course was held at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the class had capstones at the end of each week.

Watson said that every Friday the class studied critical incidents and that he learned of the killing of Officer Timothy Jacob “Jake” Laird and the night he was shot in the line of duty.

Laird was 31 when the incident occurred on August 18, 2004. He worked with the Indianapolis Police Department, which has since been disbanded and absorbed into the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

Another critical incident Watson heard about was the day Marion County Deputy Sheriff Jason Matthew Baker was shot and killed in the line of duty on September 17, 2001. Baker was 24 at the time of his dead.

“We have heard of them as well as other officers who have been injured in the line of duty,” Watson said. “We learned which training techniques worked and which management leadership training techniques failed in these incidents, and then we had to write an article about it to deliver it.”

He said there was a lot of after-school homework with the leadership training courses.

“I’ve been here at the police department for almost 20 years now, and normally you’ll be sent to a leadership class and an AR class here and there, but this is by far the most comprehensive,” Watson said. “It kind of made me realize where we kind of fell short in the past.”

He said there might be a good officer who answers their calls and a good call taker, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that person is a good leader.

“We’ve already had an officer sign up for the next leadership course,” Watson said. “Sergeant. Crystal Schapson will participate in leadership courses starting in August.

He said that from now on he will try to start pushing the SPD leaders to take this course.

“It can make us a better department, and we need that guidance to train our leaders a little better,” Watson said. “I was the first from here to attend, but I will not be the last, and we must lead by example.”

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