• Boston Police Commissioner Davis Discusses Teamwork in Public Service

9/29/2008

Assistant Professor of Public Management, Brenda Bond is hoping her students will move beyond the boundaries of paperwork when it comes to Human Resources. The idea behind her graduate course, Public Service Human Resource Management, is to get students thinking about the individuals in an organization and their contributions to the organization’s mission.  She encourages them to think about individuals and the particular skills they can add to team-based productivity—not the next HR form that needs a signature. To do that, she's lined up a few speakers who know what they’re talking about.

On September 19, Bond brought in Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis to give her class the low down on how he made it to the top spot in the city’s police department all by practicing the very things she preaches.

The class, which includes students already out there working in the public sector—an EMS technician, a local city council member, and a handful of non-profit workers—listened as the Commissioner told of his career's evolution and the possibilities he found by surrounding himself with a strong team and investing the time to build that team. Put simply: The teams he has pulled together have helped him get to where he is today. “Without a doubt,” says Davis, “I couldn’t have done it without their counsel.”

Back when Commissioner Davis was Police Chief in Lowell, he stepped outside the walls of his building—the city even—to gather a team of folks who could bring diverse voices and opinions to the table.  Bond was one of those team members.  Backed by his bosses and local officials, the move earned Davis funding and grants that he couldn’t have garnered had he not moved outside the organization. Now as Commissioner of Boston PD, Davis returns the favor and encourages his sergeants to follow his lead. “It’s interesting to hear that message from the top,” says student Graham Campbell, a former cop himself, but now the training manager for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.  Too many times, Campbell points out, that message gets deluded as it makes its way through lower ranks.

The talk, says Bond, helped to emphasize to her students the need to know what kind of skills their organizations lack and the ability to fill those gaps with employees from different backgrounds. Davis’ talk just proved her point: “This kind of thinking really influenced [Davis’] advancement,” she says. “He really learned the value of bringing other people into decision-making.”

 

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