This fall, the legislature appropriated $10 million to the School of Law for the creation of the Excellence in Policing and Public Safety (EPPS) program to increase training opportunities for rising leaders in law enforcement and support data-driven, effective, and equitable public safety throughout the state.
Here’s the deal
Public safety demands have changed dramatically over the last few years, creating new and unprecedented challenges for law enforcement and the communities they serve. Police are called upon to address a host of inherently complex social issues, yet professional development, especially for command staff, is limited or inaccessible. There is also a lack of sufficient research on the efficacy of existing programs.
A new direction
Over the next 18 months, the EPPS Program’s Command Staff Professional Development Initiative will task students with reflecting on exemplary leadership principles, researching evidence-based crime prevention strategies, developing best practices for internal and external communication, and more. This initiative is a radical departure from traditional police training methods, prioritizing scenario-based training, incorporating research from a variety of disciplines, and emphasizing peer-to-peer learning that encourages participants to connect with fellow experts in the field.
In addition to training, the EPPS Program conducts research to better inform policy makers about the state of policing in South Carolina, including what resources are available and how they are allocated. They have already begun assessing current training offerings, including their own, and have plans to supplement the annual Law Enforcement Census with geographic heat maps assessing officer deployment, authorized agency size, population served, and crime rate.
Professor Seth Stoughton, a former police officer and nationally recognized expert on policing issues, serves as the faculty director of the EPPS Program.
The inaugural cohort consists of sixteen students, representing a diverse range of police executives, including chiefs and mid-career leaders, and a variety of department sizes and regions within South Carolina. These candidates were nominated by their agencies and selected through a competitive process based on their backgrounds, skills, and perspectives to address the state’s most pressing law enforcement concerns.
As a publicly funded program, highly regarded members of the South Carolina community were identified for the Advisory Board, including police and public safety professionals, elected officials, researchers, educators, and community advocates.
What they’re saying
“Our goal is to advance the police profession and improve public safety outcomes,” Stoughton says. “If this works the way we think it can, and the way we want it to, the EPPS Program will establish the law school – and the university as a whole – as a leader in driving what policing could and should look like in this country.”