By Josette Keelor
Law enforcement officers from local departments as well as those from other areas of Virginia, West Virginia and even Arizona are studying how to be effective supervisors in a course offered through Shenandoah University's Center for Lifelong Learning this week.
Certification testing for the First Line Supervision course will be held Friday morning before a certification ceremony.
Organized by Jo Miller, coordinator for the Community Outreach and Continuing Education department, the 36-hour program offers participants foundational principles in effective supervision as well as techniques and guidelines for conflict resolution, employee performance, evaluation, sexual harassment, ethics and disciplinary process, according to a release from the university.
"There's never been one at Shenandoah University," Miller said of the 36-hour program created for law enforcement, fire and rescue and EMS personnel.
"I've been really excited about it," she said. "[It's been] making a difference."
Miller said the program started as an offer to coordinate Spanish lessons for officers and law enforcement personnel through the continuing education non-degree-seeking program.
"And this is what came out of that," Miller said.
Chief Kevin L. Sanzenbacher of the Winchester Police Department said the Law Enforcement Foundation that was started in 2009 paid for six of the 10 course participants that Winchester and Frederick County chose to attend.
The city and county each sent three officers through the foundation, and each sent two additional officers using budget money, he said.
"This is the perfect example of what we designed the foundation for," Sanzenbacher said. "We wouldn't have been able to send four or five officers to this training without that support."
Front Royal Police Chief Norman Shiflett said he also enrolled 10 officers in the class, all supervisors or future supervisors. The Police Foundation funded the training.
"We feel that this is a good program," he said. Over the years, the Front Royal Police Department has participated in similar programs, he said.
Sanzenbacher said he had been looking for new supervisor training like this. Without training opportunities, he said, department heads have to assume a lot during the hiring process, relying on what they hope supervisors have already learned and experienced previously on the job.
"There's lots of trainings around, but they're kind of piecemeal," he said. Because he was teaching a class this week across the hall from the supervisor training, he was able to look in on his supervisors.
"They said it was going real well," he said. The fact that the course attracted law enforcement from out of state speaks to the quality of the instruction, he said.
Miller said she's planning another course for October, and it will cover development training and cultural diversity.
"And they're going to do the Spanish, too," she said.