At the Center

By Veronica Gonzalez Hoff

CMIT Welcomes Delegation from the Czech Republic Prison Services

This semester the Correctional Management Institute of Texas welcomed another delegation from the Czech Republic Prison Services with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. They spent the week sharing challenges and exchanging best practices and initiatives.

Female Law Enforcement Leadership Gather To Empower with LEMIT

The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) recently hosted their 7th annual Leadership Inventory for Female Executives (LIFE) Alumni Conference, designed for graduates of the LIFE program to gather once a year for continued training and support from LEMIT leadership experts. The program aims to bridge the existing gap of female representation at executive levels in Texas and nationwide.

LIFE courses were created to promote leadership development opportunities for women and its aim is to empower current and future female leaders with self-assessment and problem-solving tools to advance in their careers. The structure of the course and its content have been supported with extensive evaluation and research on women leadership and executive advancement, with a particular focus on the female executive voice in public safety. The LIFE program is offered in small classes to allow for discussion, exploration, and professional career planning.

"LIFE is a program that was designed to empower females in their own way. Understanding that there is substantial level of support for what and how female executives in law enforcement lead," said Rita Watkins, Executive Director of LEMIT.

Alumni from all the LIFE classes met at the The Woodlands Emergency Training Center for a week and welcomed various speakers on topics covering mental health, leadership, team building strategies, and listening to inspiring stories from a panel of LIFE members who have reached high ranks in their professions.

The panel included Sam Houston State University Criminal Justice Alumna Cpt. Shelley Knight of the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, Williamson County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Evelyn McLean, Lt. Brenda Hadley of the Amarillo Police Department, City of Kemp Police Chief Suzanne Martin, and Lt. Sheila Doyle of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. They took turns sharing their wisdom and experience and answered questions from other attendees.

"Leadership to me is about supporting others and getting them where they need to be," Knight said.

Knight was a part of the fourth LIFE Class in 2012. Since then, she has continued to pursue her goals and professional development by completing the LEMIT Leadership Command College and FBI National Academy, among other accomplishments, and obtained her master's in leadership and management from the College of Criminal Justice in 2012. Knight is also a past president of the LIFE Alumni Association.

Current LIFE Alumni Association board member Lt. Brenda Hadley hopes they can continue to make a difference and continue promoting life balance and mental health.

"I always like the people that come to speak, and we got really great ones this year. There was no fluff in there," she said. "I hope we continue to include aspects of life balance in these trainings."

City of Kemp Police Chief Suzanne Martin is encouraged by the number of women represented in law enforcement today. Programs like LIFE allow a huge network of support, motivation, and encouragement for those in the demanding field of work. LIFE provides a space to encourage growth and stepping into challenges head-on.

"I walked into a room full of amazing, powerful women who truly cared about our growth. I sat there the whole week wondering why I didn't know about this sooner," she said of her first LIFE class experience. "To hear women give me insight, solutions, and empowerment was so great. This is a room full of educated women who desire to be more than just the job."

LEMIT Texas Constables Leadership College Graduates Recognized for Constable, Deputy Constable of the Year

Top leaders from 25 Constables' Offices across Texas annually complete an intensive Leadership College at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT) that covers many aspects of modern law enforcement management techniques, styles and philosophies. Two Constables from the 2018 Texas Constables Leadership College (TCLC) graduating class were awarded the 2019 Constable and Deputy Constable of the Year by the Justices of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas (JPCA).

The Justices of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas is the largest association of elected officials in the State of Texas. This association is very strong in the legislature. JPCA continues to develop relationships with state representatives to protect and advocate for the interests in justices of the peace, constables, and court clerks. This year the association celebrated 75 years. Each year at the annual conference, members are awarded the "of the year" awards. Members are nominated by a member or members and the awards committee selects the recipients.

This year the Constable of the Year for JPCA is Constable Bill Orton, Pct. 6 Matagorda County. Constable Orton has taken his office to an entirely new level, particularly in Matagorda County. After being elected, Orton only had himself and no deputies. Since that time, he has worked with Commissioner’s Court during budget review and has expanded his office to include 5 part-time deputies to assist him. Since this nomination, he now has 10 part-time deputies, an historic event for Matagorda County. He ensures that all his deputies are educated by the Texas Justice Court Training Center.

Mike Pendley, Deputy Constable for Williamson County Precinct 1, was awarded Deputy Constable of the Year. Mike began his law enforcement career in Travis County, where he became adept in all the aspects of the Constable’s role. In 2009, Mike made the choice to continue his law enforcement service in Williamson County. Since being with Precinct 1, Mike has been handed the responsibility of several leadership roles within the department. He has worked his way up through Sergeant Investigator, Lieutenant, and currently to the position of Chief Deputy.

"There are many positives in attending TCLC. A big positive is the networking opportunity TCLC presents. These are policing executives from all over the State and the relationships they develop to keep them engaged long into their careers," said Rita Watkins, executive director of LEMIT. "TCLC is the stage for these executives to learn through case study discussions, personal leadership portfolio development, and dynamic lectures. The participants have ample opportunities to deepen their knowledge, broaden skill sets, and collaborate with peers."

The Leadership College, held in three, one-week modules, is modeled after the Leadership Command College, a successful initiative to develop up-and-coming leaders in law enforcement agencies across the state. The Constable program emphasizes leadership and general management principles as well as political, legal, and social issues facing contemporary departments. The program is designed to benefit supervisors with at least five years' experience.

During the classes, participants are exposed to many of the issues faced in the day-to-day operations of the office and the skills needed to lead a policing agency. The modules included training in the psychology of police leadership, internal affairs, ethics and intergovernmental relations, communications, cultural diversity, legal liability and human resources management.

For more information on the TCLC, contact Kandy Woodall, program coordinator, at 936-294-4756 or at