On Jan. 20, 15 different agencies and police departments met on the Kingston campus to hear some very important messages in a course called “Polishing the Badge, Leading for Optimal Performance.” Major Michael Jagoda of the URI police department refers to it as a “leadership development course” whose aim was to “go back to those fundamental principles of being a public servant.”

Jagoda explained how this course is something he has wanted to do since he came here last May. “I wanted to start a leadership development course to really give [the officers] the tools to develop…and really meet the needs and be able to service the public more effectively and efficiently”.

When he first came here, Jagoda noticed how the police force weren’t really engaged in the community and the officers were driving around in the cruisers, only able to access Upper and Lower College Road. “They weren’t really in the campus where the students were,” Jagoda remarks.

Since then, Jagoda has made it his goal to increase the community policing programs on campus and have a larger presence around campus. “[Something] that is very important to me from the get-go is community policing,” explains Jagoda. “One of the reasons we’ve done the bikes and the walking patrols was because…it’s hard to approach a police officer in a cruiser… I want [my officers] to engage with the students”

Jagoda and the police force want to increase the trust and confidence the community and public have of them through such simple things as making it normal to have a police officer ask about a student’s or faculty members day. “If we have [trust and confidence in the police] here,” Jagoda said, “we’re going to be able to deal through [difficult] situations collectively.”

This course aims to assist in accomplishing these goals that Jagoda has for the force. Jagoda had been to previous courses like URI’s “Polishing the Badge” which have helped to give him a lot of tools that he was able to use to better manage and lead his fellow officers.

This course was advertised as presenting topics that include “creating an empowering organization, strategies to overcome job misery, harnessing organizational spirit, warrior vs. guardian mindset, lessons from the Sandy Hook School shooting, building psychological capital in LE Officers, resilient leadership, mindfulness and meditation for law enforcement” and a place where you can learn how to “make a difference.”

Jagoda explains how this course “really talks about why you wanted to become a public servant, why you wanted to become a police officer and goes back to those ground roots of why you picked a career in law enforcement”. Jagoda compares it to a “mentoring program” where the focus is on “a spiritual, mindful, and physical type of meditation”.

In a way, this course was about connecting the officers with why they first wanted to become a police officer and, in particular, one who works on a university campus. “It’s important that we have a positive interaction with this community so we can make those positive connections,” said Jagoda.

Something discussed in this course that Jagoda is very adamant about is the warrior vs. guardian mentality. “Everybody sees the police officer as the warrior—it’s got to be confrontation,” said Jagoda, “I want it to be more like a guardian. We’re here to protect our community the best that we can.”

Jagoda said how this is just the beginning of increasing the community policing and quality of policing effort. “There’s going to be more leadership development,” Jagoda said, “We call it ‘polishing the badge’ but I’d like to call it ‘why do you wear the badge’? [This course is] about our officers…remembering why they wanted a career in the law enforcement” and according to Jagoda, the answer to that really just is “to make a positive impact in their community.”