Last year the Rotary Club of Charleston made a landmark grant of $50,000 to assist the Charleston Police Department with developing a Leadership Development Institute (LDI). This was seen as an especially important initiative following an audit of the CPD that evaluated its performance in matters related to racial bias, community relationships and other key challenges in making it a stronger organization. The spotlight was shone even more brightly on these issues in the wake of last May’s BLM unrest in the city.
Spearheaded by Rotarians Digit Matheny and Rob Dewey, the club and the CPD worked together to identify a way our club could help strengthen our most critical public service organizations. Chief Luther Reynolds, a Rotarian himself (as is Charleston Fire Chief Dan Curia), firmly believes that “leadership is a force multiplier” in the effectiveness of any organization and sought our assistance in helping the department develop a more structured approach to how it trains its leaders. The club designated $50,000 from its community fund to help launch the Leadership Development Institute last year.
This past week Chief Reynolds and two of the participants in the program, Captain Tony Cretella of the CPD and Assistant Fire Chief Ann Kostyrka were guest speakers to give an update on the Leadership Development Institute. Chief Reynolds started by thanking the Rotary for their partnership in helping to support the program. John Vincent and Deb Fortin of The Submarine Way, the leadership consultants working with the LDI, gave a summary of the program thus far. They have completed five of eight courses with the Institute, training that reaches to all ranks of Charleston Police, Fire and Safety Departments. They have just begun the Mastermind training, where they train the trainers in the departments. Chief Reynolds, they pointed out, is present at every course and checking in on a regular basis.
The LDI operates under the principle that you change mindset and behavior by doing training sessions on Equity and Inclusion – its is instilled in people through their own unique talents and they then partner with people with their unique talents, building the interdependent collaboration needed to accomplish more. Captain Cretella explained how part of the goal is for the Police and Fire Department is to be regarded, not just as service agencies for public safety, but to be seen as leaders in the community.
Chief Kostyrka, also indicated how this is an opportunity to improve the customer service of the fire services so that when they do respond to a need in the community, it is not the first time the community is seeing them.
Chief Reynolds concluded with the goal of providing the fire and police with the training and protection they need so that parents want their sons and daughters to be part of the public safety services and leadership is part of the goal. He ended by reminding everyone that Charleson is one of the safest and most livable cities of its size in the country, and again thanking the Rotary for their support as they continue to grow in this process. This is just the beginning of creating a growing and learning organization.