WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Airmen Leadership School is meant to bridge the gap between the Airman and noncommissioned officer tier. This year, the class will also bridge the gap between Team Whiteman’s upcoming leaders and the local community as two Warrensburg police officers graduated alongside Whiteman’s newest noncommissioned officers in ALS, Aug. 14.
Airmen Leadership School is a professional development course meant to prepare new staff sergeants and senior airmen for supervisory duties. The covered topics include leadership, followership, communication skills, and the profession of arms.
With current events effecting the social environment for Airmen attending the course, Master Sgt. Jacques Ridore, Whiteman ALS Commandant, decided to reach out to the Warrensburg Police Chief to invite officers there to take part in a discussion panel for the students. His goal was to give the Airmen the opportunity to get to know a bit about the community, the people who protect it and put a face to the force.
“I spoke with Police Chief Rich Lockhart of the Warrensburg police department and gave him my vision,” said Ridore. “I asked him to speak to the Airmen about community policing and what his department was doing to breed a culture of transparency, trust and community policing.”
According to Ridore, Lockhart’s briefing went perfectly. The students had questions and he was able to answer.
After his briefing, Lockhart asked about the leadership concepts that were taught and how they help the Airmen be better supervisors when they return to their organizations.
“We came to the conclusion that we should try to get some of his officers through the same leadership training to benefit his organization,” Ridore said. “We had no issues working with Whiteman leadership to make this a reality. We received only encouragement through the process.”
The Warrensburg Police Department views the purpose of the exchange to expose future WPD supervisors to the same quality training the Air Force provides its future supervisors.
Corporal Cher Miller, one of the police officers chosen to attend ALS, explained that the leadership concepts taught at ALS are universal and can be used by her fellow officers to enhance leadership practices in the department.
“Training future leaders is always necessary,” said Miller. “Creating a bond with the USAF, one of the largest groups in our community, will create public value that will benefit Warrensburg and the Whiteman Community. I have not only been learning about leadership skills but also about the USAF. It’s been an honor to be chosen for this great opportunity.”
The department chose two officers based on their potential to be future supervisors for the WPD. According to Miller, the department would like to send all supervisory officers and future supervisory positions through the ALS program.
This is the first time civilians have participated in the ALS program at Whiteman. The opportunity to exchange leadership education and build community relationships is invaluable, according to Miller.
“It’s been a great team building experience,” said Miller. “We’ve all become very familiar with each other and learned about each other’s jobs, whether it’s law enforcement or the USAF. My teammates have been amazing to get to know. I hope we stay in contact even when this class is over.”
Team Whiteman has taken the steps to build the bond between the civilian and military community through communication and leadership.
“The police officers who transition through our school can be ambassadors for our Airmen in the community,” said Ridore. “Airmen who get the opportunity to go through the class with our community members can be ambassadors for police departments, both in and out of the military.”
The cross pollination of ideas in the Whiteman ALS class is one of the ways Team Whiteman is building a community focused around being stronger together.
“I believe police officers joining Airmen in ALS will transition the narrative from just ‘cops’ to put a face and a life to the police force, which helps build relationships,” said Ridore. “The end goal is humanizing each organization and building bridges with our community partners.”