Background

Since 2012, Blue Courage, LLC has offered innovative leadership development training to all levels of law enforcement, encouraging integrity, courage, and character while meeting the demands of 21st century policing. The philosophy of Blue Courage motivates law enforcement officers to develop the right mindset and skillset to perform their duties in a manner that also safeguards their own health and wellbeing, such as building resilience and recommitting to the nobility of policing. In January 2015, Trooper Chris Greb with the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) attended a two-day “Blue Courage: The Heart and Mind of the Guardian” training in Carson City, Nevada and was inspired by the program’s message. With more than 20 years’ experience in law enforcement, he viewed the training as the most impressive and impactful training he had attended. Since then, Trooper Greb has championed Blue Courage within NHP and the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS), identifying the program as a transformative opportunity and critical training for all law enforcement officers. His advocacy represents one example of how a state has incorporated leadership development training across law enforcement agencies.

Law Enforcement Leadership Development in Nevada

As Trooper Greb obtained support from the highest levels within DPS and NHP, he joined the Blue Courage Delivery and Development team as an instructor, spreading the message of officer mindfulness and wellbeing. In 2017, he reached out to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) to request technical assistance for troopers in the NHP Northern Command, seeking to develop trainers and institutionalize Blue Courage principles throughout DPS through the Blue Courage Academy.

Held in Reno, Nevada, the Blue Courage Academy included the two-day “Blue Courage: The Heart and Mind of the Guardian” course, a train-the-trainer course, and one day of technical assistance to develop Master Trainers. Blue Courage instructors shared basic principles and teaching techniques with 25 NHP troopers and personnel from the Sparks, Nevada Police Department (PD); Washoe County, Nevada Sheriff’s Office; University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Police Services; Reno, Nevada PD; Reno, Nevada Public Safety Dispatch; and DPS. The topics covered during the course included: Foundations of Blue Courage, Police Culture, Nobility of Policing, Respect, Resilience/Hope, Positive Psychology, Health/Wellness, Practical Wisdom and Deliberate Practice, and Courage.

These themes resonated with the training participants, renewing their sense of passion and commitment to policing and enhancing their understanding of how to build relationships and trust within their community. The officers found that the training helped with developing personal value systems, and they connected with the idea that practicing health/wellness is as important on the job as it is at home. Showing great enthusiasm for the program’s values, some participants began sharing resources like “Nobility of Policing” videos with colleagues before the train-the-trainer portion of the course even started. Additionally, the inclusive nature of the training enabled participants to share their varied experiences, strengthening discussions of how to implement Blue Courage principles across the state.

The success of the Reno training and Trooper Greb’s advocacy has already impacted NHP and police departments statewide. Since the Blue Courage Academy, the Reno PD to continues to host “Blue Courage: The Heart and Mind of the Guardian” courses for other law enforcement personnel to develop a culture of critical thinking, tolerance, and purpose. Many supervisors of the Blue Courage training participants have contacted Trooper Greb and the team to remark on the transformation of their officers, who are sharing lessons with their colleagues, encouraging them to attend courses, and displaying Blue Courage posters in offices. Building on the BJA NTTAC-funded train-the-trainer approach and in recognition of the benefits associated with the Blue Courage philosophy, 40 troopers from NHP Southern Command will have the opportunity to attend a training in December 2017.

“Across the board, attendees of the training have realized the importance of living these Blue Courage values in their careers,” notes Trooper Greb. “And we’re just getting started – we get calls every day from officers interested in attending future trainings here in Nevada.”

DPS- and NHP-affiliated organizations have also recognized the value of Blue Courage training and principles. The Northern Nevada Law Enforcement Academy plans to incorporate Blue Courage into their training program, building on DPS’ efforts to infuse adaptive police culture, resilience, health/wellness, and courage into their division training. NHP has also partnered with the Nevada Highway Patrol Association and the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, who are so enthused with the program that they are sponsoring two participants per class for upcoming training sessions. The police unions for Sparks PD and Reno PD have demonstrated a similar recognition of Blue Courage’s value.

According to Founder and Managing Partner of Blue Courage, Michael Nila, “Chris [Trooper Greb] has really ignited the Blue Courage movement in Nevada. The popularity of the trainings is a testament to officers seeing the benefit of the training. What Chris accomplished in Nevada is an excellent example of what Blue Courage originally set out to do – to spread this message across a metro, region, and state, seeding the values in one place, and then watching it grow.”

Additional Law Enforcement Leadership Development Training Through BJA

Since August 2016, BJA NTTAC has supported more than a dozen technical assistance requests from law enforcement agencies nationwide seeking leadership development training. More than 500 participants have attended BJA-funded Blue Courage training, developing inclusive leadership skills and a guardian mentality while also building resilience. Participant responses to these courses have been overwhelmingly positive, with many law enforcement officers finding value not only in the in-person training, but also in the discussions, tools, and resources provided through the programs. Additionally, BJA is working closely with the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training to develop a statewide immersion program for infusing Blue Courage principles and values into law enforcement recruitment and in-service training programs.

To submit the work of your organization or jurisdiction for consideration to be featured in a future BJA NTTAC TTA Spotlight, please email nttac@bjatraining.org.

If your agency or community is interested in law enforcement leadership development training or would like to apply for technical assistance, please contact BJA NTTAC at nttac@bjatraining.org to discuss your unique criminal justice needs.