Innovation, SLPD Style!
Last night, I shared with 20+ San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Oakland residents the pleasure and privilege of graduating from the 6th San Leandro Police Citizens Academy. For 13 Wednesday weeknights, from 3-4 hours each night and one Saturday at the SLPD shooting range, Lt. Bob McManus led the SLPD staff in the daunting task of giving a group of community leaders a peek into the world of the San Leandro Police Dept.
My interest? A critical part of creating a healthy tech and innovation ecosystem is public safety. Businesses located in an unsafe environment encounter unnecessary challenges to growth and attraction of employees. And Chief Spagnoli and her team are critical partners in San Leandro’s developing innovation ecosystem.
I learned last night that the concept of a police citizen’s academy was developed very recently, initiated in England in 1977. This SLPD Academy allowed us to learn about everyday police operations – I expected that. What was really eye-opening for me is the fairly new mental health support systems that the Department has created, and is continuing to evolve, for officers and support staff. Think about it — everyday these men and women encounter situations that bring them into contact with people who are too often disrespectful, at minimum, and often potentially dangerous. Both sworn officers, staff and families now have access to experienced and focused counseling — and every major incident is followed by a debriefing “circle” with all involved sharing their experience and feelings about what happened.
Innovation takes many forms, and SLPD is on the cutting edge — not just because of their quick adoption of technology and social media techniques, which are sometimes controversial; not just due to their ongoing and immersive approach to community involvement; but also because of their compassionate and common-sense approach to maintaining mental health for their staff. Lt. McManus’ teaching style is hands-on — “experience what we experience” — both intimidating and eye opening!
I recommend the Academy to any interested San Leandro resident who cares about public safety in this City. For more information about the next class, go to the SLPD website at http://www.sanleandro.org/depts/pd/programs/citizen_police_academy/default.asp