2 ways to further your knowledge as a law enforcement professional
An up-close look at CA POST Command College and the University of San Diego’s Master of Science degree in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership
By Bradley D. Beach
Having dedicated a little over 20 years to law enforcement, I found myself feeling stagnant in my managerial role. It was then my director introduced me to the POST Command College and encouraged me to apply. I researched the program online and it seemed like a great opportunity to learn about the future of policing. I took the hardest first step and applied. It would turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made and change the trajectory of my career.
Upon completing the POST Command College, I accrued 12 graduate units that were transferable to the University of San Diego’s Master of Science degree in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership (LEPSL). I immediately enrolled to further my education and, in this article, will make the case as to why you should too.
POST Command College
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training offers an executive-level capstone course known as the Command College. Spanning 14 months, this program is designed to prepare law enforcement leaders for future challenges in the field.
The selection process is stringent, with candidates being chosen from managerial and command ranks within California’s policing community. Applicants should involved in community and professional activities. Additionally, they must secure a nomination from their agency’s head and submit a writing sample. Following this, a rigorous interview is conducted by a panel comprising seasoned law enforcement leaders from across the state. Upon acceptance into the Command College, students are integrated into a 25-member cohort, journeying through the program collectively.
Initiated in 1984, Command College has seen over 1,400 students graduate from its program since its inception. Research underscores the program’s efficacy, revealing that 70% of Command College alumni receive at least one promotion following their completion of the program.
Participants engage in one in-person class bi-monthly for a year, followed by a four-month period dedicated to the compilation of a “futures portfolio,” akin to a master’s level thesis. The curriculum is engineered to foster strategic foresight, empowering individuals to shape the forthcoming trajectory of law enforcement. It delves into methodologies for pinpointing emerging issues, employing the STEEP (sociological, technological, economic, environmental, and political) model as a lens. The coursework explores the techniques and advantages of stakeholder engagement, culminating in a thorough examination of procedural justice and the ripple effects of social systems on a global scale.
Within the Command College, a significant emphasis is placed on future forecasting, urging participants to contemplate the issues likely to impact law enforcement in the next 7-10 years. Initially, this forward-thinking approach may pose challenges, but with thorough exploration, it can spawn a plethora of innovative ideas for policing. A hallmark of the program is the crafting of a final professional article, which is part of the futures portfolio on a topic chosen by students early in the course. My chosen topic revolved around the prevention of underage drinking, culminating in an article that was published on Police1 titled, “A letter to the American public: How to reduce underage drinking in America.”
I was a part of Class 68, and as of now, POST is accepting applications for Class 73, which commences on December 10, 2023. One of the great things about POST CC is the attainment of a graduate certificate titled, “Principles of Law Enforcement Command,” which is recognized and transferable to numerous universities. By transferring the 12 units to the University of San Diego, you become eligible for a bridge program, paving the way to earn your graduate degree in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership. Since the inception of the partnership between POST and USD in 2019, 95 Command College graduates have been awarded the certificate, and approximately two-thirds have successfully completed their master’s degree. For more detailed information on this transformative opportunity, visit www.post.ca.gov/command-college.
University of San Diego M.S. in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership
The University of San Diego offers a Master of Science degree in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership, tailored exclusively for law enforcement professionals. This leadership-centric program has garnered recognition from the US News and World Report, being ranked among the nation’s premier online criminal justice programs.
The program is delivered entirely online, offering attendees the flexibility to review coursework and complete assignments at their convenience. Comprising 31 units, the program spans 20 months, with a discounted rate of $679 per unit, making it a practical, convenient and affordable educational venture. The Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership (LEPSL) program is designed to be immediately applicable, closely mirroring the tasks and deliverables pertinent to contemporary law enforcement operations. To date, 1,000 law enforcement professionals have enrolled in the program, with an average tenure of 17 years in law enforcement among the students. Research indicates that 35% of law enforcement chiefs and sheriffs hold a master’s degree, a significant statistic for individuals aspiring to advance and ascend through the ranks in their careers.
The classes in the program include Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement and Public Safety, Communication Skills for Law Enforcement Leaders, Public Safety Law in a Dynamic World, Best Practices in Community Engagement, Organizational Leadership for Law Enforcement, Data Fluency and Analysis for Law Enforcement Leaders, Effective Leadership in Modern Public Safety Public Policy Innovation, and Integrative Capstone.
The courses were exemplary, with a strong emphasis on leadership traits, community engagement, and leveraging data to drive future change. In the Community Engagement class, I authored a paper titled, “Advancing 21st Century Policing,” exploring ways my department could bolster relationships with the communities and stakeholders we serve. In the Organizational Leadership course, I crafted a consultant’s report concerning my department, delving into the analysis of survey results, the creation of a leadership training initiative, the establishment of a mentorship program, the application of foresight and succession planning, enhancements in communication, a redesign of our promotional process, and strategies to boost morale within our organization.
The data class inspired me to write an article titled, “How can we stop school shootings in America.” Serving as the President of the ABCUSD School Board and being a parent, this issue holds immense significance to me. My research yielded three pivotal measures to aid in preventing school shootings: 1) Educating both students and adults to recognize and report warning signs, 2) Establishing and promoting round-the-clock anonymous tip lines, and 3) Implementing behavioral threat assessments and management for individuals displaying dangerous signs. In the Public Policy Innovation class, our team meticulously crafted a 45-page Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) proposal aimed at establishing a Los Angeles County Specialized Gang and Human Trafficking Task Force to tackle gang violence across the county.
Here is the testimonial I wrote after completing the program: “The Master of Science in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership degree at USD is one of the best programs in the country for current law enforcement professionals. The classes discussed current trends and emphasized leadership, data, and community engagement. We looked at various 21st-century policing models and everything we learned in the classes can be applied back at our agencies. The discussion boards were also invaluable and allowed students to share their ideas and grow. This program has made me a better leader and given me many practices I can take back to my department.”
Visit www.sandiego.edu for more information.
Law enforcement professionals need to continually learn and grow to better serve the communities in which they work. It is especially important in today’s volatile political landscape.
POST Command College and the University of San Diego’s Master of Science degree in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership are both great programs to improve your knowledge and prepare you for an executive role. You will learn about improving community engagement, leadership, public policy and collecting data to enhance future outcomes.
I started POST Command College at 45 years old and after two and a half years I now have a M.S. after my name. More importantly, I have gained a wealth of knowledge that can help the communities in which I serve. It’s never too late to further your education and make yourself a better law enforcement officer, supervisor, manager, or executive staff member.
About the author
Bradley D. Beach is a supervising agent in charge for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, serving a large portion of Los Angeles County, and has been employed there since 1999. As a sworn peace officer, Beach is a background investigator, field training officer, internal affairs investigator, acting public information officer and long-time firearms instructor. He was also elected in 2020 and is a governing board member for the ABC Unified School District, which oversees 30 schools and 2,000 employees.
Beach recently graduated from the University of San Diego with a Master of Science degree in law enforcement and public safety leadership. Before that, he attended the POST Command College and San Diego State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice (cum laude) and a minor in kinesiology. He currently enjoys traveling and coaching his daughter’s softball team.