Striving for Educational Excellence in Law Enforcement Leadership: The Case of Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office


We live and work in an age when law enforcement challenges are immense. Society as a whole has the expectation that law enforcement professionals will perform their duties in a manner that is impartial, just, and empathetic to the social economic barriers that grip this nation. Further, the transparency of the digital era places all events under the scrutiny of media critics, the eyes of the community, and virtually anyone who has access to the Internet.  It is within this context we ask: Is the old adage “Protect and Serve” enough if police agencies wish to provide the best service possible for the public good?

Although we support the underpinnings of what it means for police agencies to ‘protect and serve”, in this article we argue that ‘protect and serve” is much more than what is commonly practiced among law enforcement today. If a law enforcement agency is simply satisfied with protecting and serving and not concerned with the manner in which they accomplish this task, they are undoubtedly doing their citizens, community and nation an immeasurable disservice.  By just protecting and serving they are performing at an expected level of performance, or mediocre level of service at best. We believe that all police agencies have the potential to achieve much more.

Law enforcement leaders and executives must be cognizant that it is not just “good” enough to provide modern technology, equipment and tactical training to those under their command. Although it is certainly a significant part of the equation they must have the foresight to realize that in order to ensure the growth and development while simultaneously protecting the reputation of their agency these leaders must be willing to fully invest in the cognitive growth of the agencies human capital both deliberately and intentionally.  After all, it will be their employees who will ultimately interact with the citizens of their communities and represent the agency.

An Exemplary Leader in Law Enforcement

To demonstrate exemplary leadership within law enforcement we introduce Newell Normand who is currently the Sheriff of Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) in Louisiana. Sheriff Normand embodies the leadership characteristics needed to navigate a modern law enforcement agency in today’s society (see Ellis & Normore, 2014).  He is a thirty-year veteran of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office who rose through the ranks and was elected Sheriff in 2007. Furthermore, he is a forward thinking leader who realizes that by virtue of their mission and the values they hold, all law enforcement professionals are leaders and must be given the tools to positively affect their community through continued educational growth.

Prior to taking over as the Sheriff of JPSO, Sheriff Normand had the distinct advantage of rising within the ranks of the department witnessing the ‘good, bad and ugly’ through the years.  He not only understands the challenges facing his agency, but he also recognizes challenges confronted by many law enforcement agencies in the south.  One particular challenge is addressing the fact that educational requirements for deputies and other law enforcement professionals are minimal and only require a high school education or a General Education Diploma (GED).  While the initial educational requirements for law enforcement professionals in Louisiana have a direct correlation with starting pay for deputies, Sheriff Normand has not let this deter his drive to increase opportunities for his employees intellectual development and the overall excellence within the JPSO.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Center for Leadership Development

In order to meet daily challenges, enhance the cognitive level of his employees, and reinforce his vision for JPSO of “Intellect, Professionalism, and Integrity”; Sheriff Normand, in partnership with the International Academy of Public Safety (IAPS), instituted the JPSO’s Center for Leadership Development in 2011.

The Leadership Center envisioned by Sheriff Normand himself and Dr. Mitch Javidi of IAPS, is designed to present all JPSO employees, regardless of the rank, with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide, good, clean, aggressive, and deliberate law enforcement leadership with empathy and a high level of intellect. The concept is deeply rooted in the idea that comprehensive leadership coupled with ethics, character, and emotional intelligence training will result in a robust and well-rounded professional who understands that increased development of the intellect results in the ability to better communicate, assess problems and situations in order to form a rational decision versus one based solely on an undisciplined emotional reaction. In order to emphasize the importance of this training, participation in the JPSO’s Leadership Center is not optional.  Sworn and civilian personnel must complete this training, thus building a solid foundation of responsibility and automatic accountability for all to deliver results with confidence.

The Center is a robust online blended training program utilizing a fully sophisticated Knowledge Management Platform (KMP) that is systematically customized with real JPSO scenarios in the form of video, photographs, and other media to enhance both cognitive and behavioral outcomes.  The platform promotes pride and internal “buy-in” from agency personnel.  It is researched based and is built on the premise that leaders are developed and not born with an innate ability to lead well both intentionally and deliberately (Keis & Javidi).  Leadership skills are developed through self-awareness, education and experience.  In order to give participants a sense of “looking in the mirror,” as they start the Leadership Center, each participant must initially complete three separate tools assessing their Personal Style, the Organization Citizenship Behaviors, and Leadership Behaviors.  Completing additional assessments in the follow-up phases will enable the participants to assess their development and grow their abilities to Lead Down and Manage Up as Credible leaders (Keis & Javidi, 2014).

This multi-layered Center is comprised of six fully programmatic and integrated developmental phases (Phase I: Foundations and Principles; Phase II: Theories and Practices; Phase III: Application and Advancement; Phase IV: Competency and Mastery; Phase V: Mentoring and Transition; and Phase VI: Field Command and Sound Doctrine), each one designed to incrementally raise the employees’ level of development of leadership intellect and practical application as they are completed.  Each phase is followed by a one-day workshop conducted by Sheriff Normand himself (with occasional support from select JPSO and IAPS commanders and instructors) who reviews the training and sets the organizational expectations, answers questions, graduates the participants through certifications from JPSO and IAPS.  This 350+ hours of leadership development and training is a perfect complement to nationally recognized Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Programs such as the FBI National Academy, FBI LEEDA, West Point, IACP’s LPO, Southern Police Institute Leadership, and the Northwestern leadership program.

Sheriff Normand anticipated that his personnel would have a better sense of self-awareness, improved interpersonal and communication skills, effectively employ the concepts of ethical leadership, demonstrate an appreciation of change management, enhance the ability to lead culturally diverse teams, and gain an understanding of the concept of “leading down and managing up”.  At the conclusion of Phase I of the program, Sheriff Normand noted several significant changes as a result of the program. For example, he noted a positive change in organizational culture and officer mindset.  Internal affairs complaints decreased significantly and citizens’ complaints dropped by 50%. His staff became more civic minded and JPSO developed into a more giving organization both internally and externally.  Deputies began to change the way they viewed their role in the community and became more adept as servant leaders both intentionally and deliberately.  Their organizational thought process increased and they truly began to hold themselves and others within the organization responsible and accountable for outcomes.  Overall, the employees began to go the extra mile for their constituents with automatic sense accountability.

To date, over 700 JPSO participants have successfully completed Phase I of the program including command staff, patrol personnel, investigative personnel and correctional staff. They are currently transitioning to the next phase where new knowledge and theories with practices are designed to raise the intellectual level of each participant.  The courses in the new phase are intentionally more challenging in order to continue the learners’ organizational growth and enhance their educational journey and contain detailed case studies and practical exercises.  Sheriff Normand anticipates his personnel will have a greater understanding of human emotion and emotional intelligence, understand how to effectively address conflict and arrive at acceptable solutions, understand the potential pitfalls of communicating under stress, and embrace the importance of leading in a manner that leaves people under his scope of influence better than they were before he arrived. It is his belief that these concepts and practices are essential for all law enforcement professionals, regardless of their rank and assignment.

Consistent with his belief that there is, “no limit to intellect”, and law enforcement executives must continue to provide learning opportunities for their employees, Sheriff Normand and the JPSO will be rolling out Phase III, IV, and V of the program in late 2014 and throughout 2015, and 2016 to as One Agency, One Team, and One Vision.

Each “Phase” of the program is intended to compliment, enhance and build on the training provided in the previous phases, and raise the complexity of intellectual leadership growth to the next level. Interactive lectures using a variety of teaching methods make up the course in each module. Instructors including Sheriff Ray Nash, Lt. Col. Ted Spain, Sheriff Van Duncan, Chief Gary Benthin, Major Mike Adams, Dr. Larry Long, Chief Ben Bailey, Dr. Tim Turner, Dr. Neal Trautman, and many others have extensive Law Enforcement, FBI, FBI NA, Military, Communication, and Leadership expertise.

Sheriff Normand emphasizes that his personnel are now searching for other avenues outside of the structure of the agency to advance their education. This is done either through additional leadership readings, or by pursuing advance degrees in hopes to further their professional standing in the organization.  Interest in promotion and career planning has increased, and employees are seeking opportunities to discover how they fit into the organization and how to leave a positive legacy both within the agency and in the community that they serve.

JPSO is located directly across the Mississippi River from New Orleans and serves a bustling community of over 400,000 people. It has a very high approval rating from its’ constituents.  “We arrest approximately 10% of the population per year”, says Sheriff Normand, “and we still receive high praise”.  “I attribute that to the fact that our deputies understand that we hold the public’s trust in the palm of our hands and we must manage and nurture it.”  He states, “Our deputies, especially in the Patrol Division, realize the importance of timely response and professional, respectful service” and further iterates, “The ideal measure of success is when a deputy realizes the potential negative consequences of his arrest on the family of the arrestee, and although the deputies must do their job, they take the time to leave that family in the best situation that they can considering the circumstances.”

Final Reflections and Industry Impact

JPSO’s Leadership Center has set the foundation for continued leadership growth, succession planning, and community involvement.  Sheriff Normand and the JPSO have effectively addressed that dreaded enemy of law enforcement, commonly referred to as complacency.  To combat the complacent behaviors of officers we draw your attention to Social Learning Theory of Aggression (Bandura, 1977).  This theory states, that a person who is unsuccessful will work extra hard to earn a passing grade of a C; however, the person who has earned a passing grade may not work as hard to earn an A. The return is much greater in improving from a C to an A than it is rising from a failing grade to a C, but many of us are just satisfied with a passing grade instead of striving for the A which represents excellence. Sheriff Normand insists on excellence from his personnel and is willing to provide the tools and invest in his personnel in order to strive for excellence.  Sheriff Garcia of Harris County, TX; Sheriff Susan Pamerleau of Bexar, TX, Sheriff Hamilton (Past President of FBI LEEDA) of Travis County, TX; Sheriff Pastor of Pierce County, WA; Sheriff Wiley of Accession Parish Sheriff’s Office, LA; Sheriff Michael Leidholt (President of National Sheriff’s Association) of  Hughes County, SD; Sheriff Mike Milstead of Minnehaha County, SD; Sheriff Tim Helder of Washington County, AR; Sheriff David Mahoney of Dane County, WI; Sheriff B.J. Barnes of Guilford County, NC; Secretary James LeBlanc of Louisiana Department of Corrections; Colonel William Grey of North Carolina State Highway Patrol; Colonel Stan Witt of Arkansas State Police; Director B. W. Collier of NC Alcohol and Tobacco; and many other progressive Law Enforcement leaders nationwide have adopted the program with complete customizations to meet their specific agency needs.  Like Sheriff Normand, they all believe in the importance of developing “Credible Leaders” for their agency.


Bandura, A. (1977).  Social learning theory of aggression.  Paper presented at the Werner-

Reimers-Stiftung Conference on Human Ethology: Claims and Limits of a New Discipline, Bad Homburg, West Germany.

Ellis, G., & Normore, A.H. (2014). A self-assessment for law enforcement leadership

improvement: The 6 traits of a successful police leader. Law Enforcement Today (LET): The Law Enforcement Community.

Keis, K, & Javidi, M. (forthcoming, 2014).  Deliberate leadership: Creating success through

personal style.  Holly Springs, NC:  The International Academy of Public Safety.

About the Authors

Lt. Col. Wellington R. Scott, sr., (Ret.) is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Administrative Officer’s Management Program, and an honorary member of Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society. He was a member of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for 28 years and retired as the Deputy Commander in 2013. He directed the North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s First Line Supervisors School where he developed curriculum and provided instruction for newly promoted First Line Supervisors. Lieutenant Colonel Scott currently serves as President of the Sheriff’s Institute for Ethical Leadership Development (SHIELD) a Division of the International Academy of Public Safety, and an Advisory Board of the Criminal Justice Commission on Credible Leadership Development (CJCCLD).  

Dr. Anthony H. Normore (Tony) holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He is currently Professor of Educational Leadership & Chair of Special Needs Services at California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) in Los Angeles. Tony has taught in the Department of Criminal Justice Studies at University of Guelph/Humber (Toronto), and as a graduate professor of law, ethics, and leadership for the Summer Leadership Academy at Teachers College-Columbia University. He has taught leadership seminars to inmates at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and more recently he is collaborating with Los Angeles Police Department in developing credible leadership for police officers. Dr. Normore is the Chairman of the Criminal Justice Commission on Credible Leadership Development (CJCCLD). Some of his recent publications on law enforcement leadership are found in Police Chief Magazine, Peace Officers Research Association of California, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, and Law Enforcement Today.

Dr. Mitch Javidi holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma.  He is currently the founder and the president of the International Academy of Public Safety (IAPS), the Readiness Network Inc., and the Criminal Justice Commission on Credible Leadership Development (CJCCLD). Mitch is an envisioneer with over 30 years of practical and hands-on business experience in diverse industries including but not limited to Academia, Government, Military, Law Enforcement, and Technology. As a globally recognized leader, Mitch has trained at the Joint Special Operations Command “JSOC” and the US Army Special Operations Command “USASOC.” He was awarded the honorary member of the United States Army Special Operations Command in 1999.  He served as a tenured Associate Professor at NC State University for 16 years, and published over 100 articles and presented nearly 900 presentations worldwide. He was the recipient of prestigious “Person of the Year” award by the National Society of Accountants.

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