Becoming a Leader in Law Enforcement


“Leadership occurs at every level in a law enforcement agency—from the line officers working in the field who have to make on-the-spot decisions while engaging community members in pro-active problem solving to members of command staff making policy that guides the department’s activities,” said Dr. Genea Stephens, Program Chair of the Bachelor of Arts in Law Enforcement Administration program at Ashford University.

While leadership has always been an integral part of the law enforcement profession, it may be growing in importance since the public safety and law enforcement fields have faced increased scrutiny in recent years.

“As the public demands more from law enforcement officers, it is critical that every officer has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to adapt to evolving priorities, while making ethical and effective decisions,” Dr. Stephens explained.

But how do officers build their leadership abilities? Higher education can help. Ashford’s Bachelor of Arts in Law Enforcement Administration was designed to develop the skills needed to manage and direct police and other law enforcement agencies.

“The BA in Law Enforcement Administration degree program provides students with a foundation of knowledge in social, cultural, criminal behavior, management, and leadership skills, while stressing critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and ethical behavior,” Dr. Stephens said. “This foundation prepares students to demonstrate the competency in law enforcement leadership, which must extend beyond operational and managerial knowledge.”

With a strong foundation of critical skills, law enforcement professionals will be able to form better relationships with all the stakeholders they encounter every day on the job. Dr. Stephens explained, “Leadership skills are the key to communication, motivation, and working collaboratively with others – both external community members as well as internally with representatives of other facets of the law enforcement profession.”

The Bachelor of Arts in Law Enforcement Administration degree at Ashford focuses on many other skills as well. Students will evaluate guidelines for policing modern communities and will develop a greater understanding of diversity. The curriculum is designed to teach students how to maintain social order, protect individual rights, and uphold the laws and institutions of democracy. The goal is to develop law enforcement professionals who are responsible and ethical decision-makers.

“The dynamic environment in law enforcement agencies requires law enforcement officers, at every rank of the organization, to have the knowledge and skills, as well as the ability to adapt to constantly evolving societal demands in order to remain effective, which the Bachelor of Arts in Law Enforcement Administration prepares students for,” Dr. Stephens said.

Whether a student is looking to enter the law enforcement profession or to advance at their current career in public safety, a Law Enforcement Administration degree offers the ideal preparation for future leaders.


Written by Erik Siwak, Communications Manager for Bridgepoint Education

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