Meet the Leadership Blog Series: Different Reasons for Going into Law Enforcement

The IACP Board of Directors is comprised of the IACP Executive Board as well as 33 law enforcement leaders appointed by the IACP President. The members of the Board of Directors represent agencies large and small around the globe and govern the IACP. In the IACP’s Meet the Leadership Blog Series, the IACP will feature brief profiles of the 33 appointed members of the Board of Directors.

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Name: Rick Scarbrough

Title: Chief of Police

Agency: Clinton, Tennessee, Police Department

Year Joined the IACP: 2002

Reason for Going into Law Enforcement: The law enforcement profession actually found me. I had never considered it before. I was a 20-year-old full-time college student, working part-time in construction. A friend of a friend mentioned a part-time corrections officer position with our local sheriff’s department. That is how it started, three nights per week I worked at the jail. I began going on ride-alongs with the deputies and soon knew this is what I wanted to do. Six months later, I accepted a full-time position and put college on the back burner. I later returned to night classes and completed my bachelor’s and master’s degree.

First Heard about IACP: I was named Chief of Police in 2002 and was referred to the IACP soon after by my fellow Tennessee chiefs. My first IACP conference was in Miami, Florida in 2005. I was blown away by the amount of educational opportunities then and the conference is so much larger now.

Becoming More Involved in IACP: As a new chief with a small agency, I needed a source for innovation and ideas and the IACP became my “go to” for those resources. The IACP is for every agency regardless of size.

Favorite Part About Being in Law Enforcement: Being in law enforcement provides the opportunity to contribute to maintaining the quality of life for our citizens.

The Most Challenging Part of Law Enforcement: The law enforcement profession, arguably, may be facing the greatest challenge it has ever faced. Earning and maintaining the trust of the communities we serve can establish the foundation we need to be successful. Every challenge, creates the opportunity for us to be the example; it starts and ends with us.

One Piece of Advice for the Leaders of Tomorrow: Our profession is constantly evolving. Our leaders must be lifelong learners. Again, today’s challenges are tomorrow’s opportunities.


Name: Kristen Zimanziman1483_ppa

Title: Chief of Police

Agency: Aurora, Illinois, Police Department

Year Joined the IACP: 2010

Reason for Going into Law Enforcement: I knew I wanted to be a police officer from the time I was a youngster. My father was a cop and I was drawn to the notion that police officers were action-oriented. I recall being with my father on countless occasions where he told me to stay put in the car while he wrestled keys from a drunk driver who had just smashed into a toll booth or jumped out to assist people involved in an accident. It seemed like an adventurous profession and as I grew older, I wanted to be a part of something that put personal risk aside to help others. Plus, I could never visualize myself as a person who sat at a desk all day (the irony is not lost on me!).

First Heard about IACP: I taught for Franklin Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective Police Officers) so I was fortunate to attend an IACP conference by working the Franklin Covey booth at the expo hall when I was a sergeant and lieutenant. Even though I was there as part of the expo, I found ways to sneak into the breakout sessions and gather some intellect.

Becoming More Involved in IACP: IACP is the gold standard in law enforcement. The IACP dedicates time and resources to researching and implementing best practices. I wanted to be a part of that “think tank” that contributes to making better police departments and better officers.

Favorite Part About Being in Law Enforcement: I love everything about law enforcement. Every assignment from patrol all the way up to chief has become my favorite because each plays a crucial role. As a line level officer, I felt as though my work and actions were making an impact on individuals and the community as a whole. Now as chief, the decisions I make affect each police officer and it is my responsibility to take care of them so they can take care of our community.

The Most Challenging Part of Law Enforcement: The most challenging part of being in law enforcement is the negative perception that we continue to battle. When one officer tarnishes our badge, we are all painted with the same broad brush. I wish the public understood the depth and breadth of the commitment, compassion, and courage that the majority of our officers possess.

One Piece of Advice for the Leaders of Tomorrow: The advice I would give is that you are solely responsible for your own career. To be a leader, you have to take each and every opportunity that comes your way — even the ones that scare you. Sometimes the assignments you don’t want are the ones that mold you for the future.

Be relentless in pursuit of education. I pursued a bachelor’s degree at night while working full-time and raising two kids. I got my master’s degree by working on assignments during my kids’ soccer games and gymnastic meets. I went to the FBI National Academy. I attended Harvard by securing a grant when my police department didn’t have the funds to send me. Read everything you can get your hands on because the more you know, the better you will be at your job.

And above all, don’t compete against anyone. Your only competition is yourself and if you commit to constant self-improvement, you’ll get where you want to go.

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