Assistant Chief of Campus Security Mark Labbe graduated on May 28 from the Northwestern School of Police and Command, an intensive 10-week program that sets a nationally-recognized standard for professional training for law enforcement executives. The program focuses on topics such as leadership, management, engaging the community, problem solving and communications.
Labbe attended the session, held at the Tennessee Highway Patrol Training Center in Nashville, along with leaders from the Metro Nashville Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol, the University of Tennessee and twelve other agencies from across eight states. It was the first time a Belmont staff member had the chance to attend.
Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham said the program provided leadership and management training as well as the chance to focus on key issues that can help elevate Belmont’s campus security department from being “very good” to “exceptional.”
“We’ve always had exceptional staff who were focused on providing exceptional service. What we needed was to be sure we provided the tools, resources and structure for our officers to also excel at outreach and engagement,” said Cunningham. “That’s really what Northwestern provided – the chance to focus, in both strategic and operational ways, in how we take the engagement officers were already doing on an individual basis and replicating it as department-wide initiatives that we can carry out in collaboration with our internal campus partners and external agencies.”
During the program, attendees discussed how difficult the pandemic was for everyone and ways to emerge with renewed energy and new strategies to engage the campus community to ensure the department is having productive dialogues and building solid relationships. These conversations led to the development of new community engagement initiatives with the support of experts in the field and the collective wisdom of executives from other organizations facing similar challenges.
While completing the program, Labbe developed the proposal of designating the evening shift captain, Mike Moultry, to preside over engagement initiatives. Since afternoons and evenings tend to be the times when students and student groups are most available, this assignment helps align the department’s engagement efforts with times most convenient to students.
Cunningham explained, “Captain Moultry’s energy, outgoing nature, commitment to building relationships, focus on getting to know members of our student community and being responsive to their concerns make him the ideal candidate for spearheading our engagement activities. As the second shift captain, he is in the unique position of being able to refocus and elevate the entire shift into a cohesive team of officers collectively focused on engagement.”
Areas of Focus will include:
- Engaging students, student organizations and other members of the campus community in dialogue on programming, services and security-related issues.
- Developing, mentoring and designating officers to assist in outreach / engagement activities with the goal of having all officers participating on a regular basis as part of their duties.
- Identifying opportunities to work in collaboration with campus partners and with external agencies such as the Metro Nashville Police Department, to cross–promote programming and provide consistent messaging across disciplines.
- Conducting surveys of the campus community to assess programming, departmental communication and service.
- Coordinating current student engagement programs and overseeing the development of new programing.
- Serving as a key member of departmental team related to social media presence and looking for opportunities to partner with other campus departments to further that growth.
“We are very excited about the opportunities this single change brings; we see it as a key step toward being exceptional in engaging students,” said Cunningham. “And it’s only one step in a tiered plan that Mark developed as part of his research and planning at Northwestern.”