The desire to accomplish two major goals confronted Lucas Abarca, Special Agent of the CDCR Office of Internal Affairs. He wanted to encourage more people to consider CDCR as a law enforcement career and he wanted to improve his advancement opportunities.
He found answers to both in the Command College. The college is offered in partnership with the Commission of Peace Officer Standards and Training to prepare law enforcement leaders for the challenges of the future.
Abarca posted to the Command College in the middle of a major assignment at the Office of Peace Officer Selection (OPOS) as he worked on a project to improve recruitment and retention of Correctional Officers.
“I researched information about Command College and was intrigued when I read, ‘The primary goal of the Command College is to provide sitting law enforcement leaders a course with a focus on futures forecasting and innovation,’” he said.
Abarca used his college time to explore advanced ways to recruit law enforcement.
“The topic I researched in Command College was specific to OPOS, and resulted in a road map to enhance the selection process with artificial intelligence technologies,” he said. He authored a report on his findings, which is also available on Inside CDCR.
Abarca said it surprised him to find the “grass is greener” theory did not apply to other law enforcement agencies when he compared them with CDCR.
“Outside of the day-to-day issues, comparing opportunities for lateral and upward mobility between CDCR and (other law enforcement) departments, it’s not even close,” he said. “We have statewide opportunities and multiple classifications. They have to change departments for many opportunities we take for granted.”
Command College enhanced his career advancement possibilities, Abarca said.
“Considering I have yet to reach the halfway point of my career, Command College should be a great asset,” he said. “In retrospect, I would have supervised my previous teams differently and I think more effectively with what I learned in Command College.”
The crisis triggered by COVID-19 shows the need for training like that provided at Command College, he said.
“The impact of current events in 2020 are exactly what the program was designed to prepare leaders for. All departments, CDCR included, need proactive future foresight and planning,” Abarca said. “What if 2021 or 2024 are like 2020? CDCR needs to plan for those potential futures and Command College provides the necessary training.”
What is Command College?
According to the organization, “Law Enforcement Command College, offered in partnership with the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, is designed to prepare law enforcement leaders of today for the challenges of the future. This program focuses on leadership principles needed to influence the future direction of the organization; strategies to identify emerging issues and provide a proactive response; skills and knowledge necessary to anticipate and prepare for the future; methods and benefits of sharing information; and the use of stakeholders in problem solving.
“With emphasis on Strategic Foresight, Executive Development and Systems, and Design and Innovation, participants are provided a large variety of knowledge and skills that will assist them in their ability to provide the leadership that will be lost as executive staff promotes or retires and others are called upon to take their places.
“Since 1984, Command College has graduated hundreds of mid-career law enforcement managers, many of whom have become the core of police leadership in California. You will find Command College alumni in executive positions in many agencies throughout the State, and in leadership positions in statewide associations acting on behalf of the profession.”
For more information on Command College, visit https://post.ca.gov/command-college.