Police Chief: How to Attain and Succeed in this Critical Position

By Daniel S. McDevitt and Mark W. Field; Reviewed by Thomas E. Engells, CPP, CPM

 ***** Police Chief: How to Attain and Succeed in this Critical Position. By Daniel S. McDevitt and Mark W. Field; Charles C. Thomas Publishers,; 314 pages; $45.95.

Can a book about obtaining the position of police chief and then successfully performing as one be of professional interest to security professionals? In this instance, the answer is a qualified yes. The number of commonalities between public policing and private security justifies a continuing interest in this topic. In an age of public-private partnerships, it’s in everyone’s best interests to fully understand the pressures and dynamics faced by each side.

This book is unique in approach as well as design. The authors, both experienced and qualified police chiefs, wrote the book’s 12 chapters independently and then collaborated on the final published version. Such an approach could give rise to continuity issues, but the book sidesteps such problems for the most part.

The book has a unique rhythm that keeps the reader engaged; detailed prescriptive advice is coupled with compelling personal and professional vig­nettes that underscore the points made.

The book’s subtitle, “How to Attain and Succeed in this Critical Position” could have chartered a confusing trip into nearly any aspect of a modern law enforcement executive’s work, but it did not. The authors aver at the introduction, “The menu in this book is restricted for the most part to the job-hunting aspect of career advancement.”

As a rule they remain true to that commitment. The book is evenly split by topic, with the focus on the job hunt found in the initial six chapters. Additional chapters delve into topics such as relationship-building, budgeting, and complaints.

This is a timely book, as the estimated 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States are led by police chiefs who on average serve for slightly more than three years with a “big city” police chief’s tenure averaging less than 2.5 years. This sector of the government job market is dynamic, and the book provides both the aspiring chief and the chief in transition with practical advice for job success.

Reviewer: Thomas E. Engells, CPP, CPM (Certified Public Manager), is the chief of police at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He is a member of ASIS International.




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