A Tradition of Excellence: The Southern Police Institute Since 1951

A tradition of excellence in police education and training began during 1951 when the Southern Police Institute (SPI) was founded at the University of Louisville. The success of thousands of graduates provides ample evidence of the wisdom of this enterprise. But, as is the case with most other worthwhile human endeavors, the formation and development of the Southern Police Institute during this time required planning, tending and nurturing.

Historical Development

The original idea for the establishment of the Southern Police Institute did not germinate in the mind of a police administrator or a practicing lawyer or a learned jurist. A Swedish economist developed the concept that such an institute would be both practical and beneficial. Gunnar Myrdal in his 1944 book, An American Dilemma (New York: Harper), planted a seed when he wrote:

"It is my conviction that one of the most potent strategic measures to improve the Southern interracial situation would be the opening of a pioneering modern police college in the south, which would give a thorough social and pedagogical training as well as a technical police training."

The late Joseph D. Lohman, formerly Chairman, Illinois Division of Correction; Sheriff, Cook County, Illinois; and Dean, School of Criminology, University of California, first suggested organizing the Southern Police Institute to the late Dean David A. McCandless during 1949. Mr. McCandless, who at the time was director of Public Safety with the City of Louisville, carried the idea through with a series of discussions with university and city officials until the proposal finally began to take root.

A short time later a committee was appointed to develop the plans for the institute. The committee, chaired by Howell V. Williams, then Dean, Kent School of Social Work, consisted of the following members: Donald Kemper, then assistant professor, School of Law; William G. Kiefer, then Superintendent, Personnel and Education Bureau, Louisville Police Division; with Mr. McCandless ex officio. The committee recommended the annual presentation of three twelve-week courses for 25 student-officers. The courses were designed primarily for an audience of commanding, supervising, and administrative police officers from southern and bordering states and commonwealths.

The critical ingredient in establishing the Southern Police Institute was attracting the students by publicizing the program. The first recruiting effort for the institute was launched by Colonel Carl E. Heustis, the chief of the Louisville Police Division, and Mr. McCandless. They visited prominent city and police officials in Charleston, Richmond, Raleigh, Columbia, Birmingham, New Orleans, Jackson, Memphis, and Nashville to acquaint these administrators with the institutes program.

After funding for the operation of the institute was assured by foundation grants and student-officers were recruited, people were needed to put the institute plan into operation. A screening committee selected Mr. McCandless as director of the institute. Mr. McCandless appointed Mrs. Dorothy P. Clore, who had worked for the University of Louisville since 1928, as secretary. After a nationwide search, Mr. Rolland L. Soule, a former police sergeant in Wichita, Kansas, was chosen as the first full-time instructor in the institute.

Refinement of the Institute

During 1955 the program of the anisette was reviewed. At this time, four two-week seminars were added to the offerings in the institute and the winter term of the Administrative Officers Courses was discontinued. These sessions of intense instruction in particular topics of police administration and science demonstrated another endeavor to fulfill the broad purpose of the Southern Police Institute. The institute pioneered in presenting seminars and conferences related to police responsibility in racial harmony, for example. Within the first ten years of offering these short-term courses, officers from 167 municipalities, 38 states and commonwealths, and 22 foreign countries attended these sessions.

During 1961 a significant change in the curriculum of the SPI Administrative Officers Course produced a shift to more instruction in police administration, personnel management, social and behavioral sciences, and criminal and constitutional law. The number of hours of classroom instruction was reduced from the former 450 to 300, but more individual outside study was require of the student-officers.

The expanded twelve-week course earned approval of the Curriculum Committee for twelve semester hours of credit in the College of Arts and Science during 1962. Thus the Southern Police Institute became the first school of it's type in the United States to offer college credit for in-service police education. This feature of the program signaled a precedent for other schools of this type to follow.

The size of the classes was increased to 60 officers during 1967 at the request of the program administrators in the U.S. Office of Law Enforcement Assistance. The inauguration of a series of workshop discussions sessions added a new dimension to the program. As a result of a study of the Administrative Officers Course, a communications course was added to the curriculum and the sessions were extended to fourteen-weeks, beginning with the Spring term of 1973. During the Fall term 1977, the Administrative Officers Course was redesigned and the length of the sessions was returned to the original twelve-weeks to fit the schedules of the student-officers better. However, the basic content of the curriculum remained unchanged.

Initiation of the Degree Program

During the afternoon of November 7, 1966, Professor John C. Klotter, who came to the institute during 1957, and Professor B. Edward Campbell, who began teaching in the institute in 1963, began a series of discussions with Dr. Woodrow W. Strickler, then vice-president and later president of the university, to discuss procedures for establishing a degree granting school for justice administration studies. After many meetings with concerned university committees and several revisions of a proposal, on March 5, 1969 the University Senate endorsed the request to establish the School of Police Administration. The following month the resolution received a favorable vote by the University Assembly. The University Board of Trustees then officially established the School of Police Administration, effective July 1, 1969.

Mr. McCandless became dean of the School of Police Administration and also remained as director of the Southern Police Institute. Mr. McCandless passed away during 1971 and Professor Klotter became dean of the school and director of the Southern Police Institute.

The Southern Police Institute continued to grow during the 1970s and embarked on a furthering of the seminar programs in addition to maintaining the academic credibility of the Administrative Officers Course. A graduate option was added, starting with the fall term of 1973, to meet the needs of the new generation of police managers. Thus the Southern Police Institute faculty once again set the pace for police education.

The Southern Police Institute of the 1980s and 1990s

Professor Norman E. Pomrenke was appointed director of the Southern police Institute during 1977. Professor John Klotter remained as dean of the renamed School of Justice Administration. During 1981, after serving ten years, Professor Klotter resigned from the dean's position to devote more time to his teaching and writing. A national search was conducted to fill the position. Dr. J. Price Foster was selected to become dean of the School of Justice Administration during 1981. During 1983, the College of Urban and Public Affairs was established in the university and the School of Justice Administration became part of the new college. The new college was charged with the primary responsibility for the urban mission of the university. Dr. Foster became dean of the college.

As a result of Dr. Foster becoming dean of the new college, a national search was conducted for a director of the School of Justice Administration, the parent component of both the Southern Police Institute and National Crime Prevention Institute. The search culminated during 1986 with the appointment of Dr. William Pelfrey, a renowned academician and administrator. Dr. Pelfrey brought to the School of Justice Administration and the Southern Police Institute the talent to demonstrate that effective practice emerges from the application of established theory and that sound managerial skills must be coupled with the integrity of enduring academic standards.

Professor Pomrenke retired during 1987, and Dr. James Ginger was selected as director of the Southern Police Institute in 1988. Dr. Pelfrey accepted the position as Head of the Department of Criminal Justice at Western Carolina University during 1990. The faculty then selected one of their colleagues, Dr. Deborah G. Wilson, as Chair of the Department of Justice Administration. When Dr. Ginger returned to the Police Foundation during 1990, Dr. Forrest Moss became director of the institute until 1991, when Professor B. Edward Campbell was appointed acting director. During 1991, a recommendation was made to abolish the College of Urban and Public Affairs and to move the School of Justice Administration along with the Southern Police Institute and the National Crime Prevention Institute administratively to the College of Arts and Sciences. The school then became a department in the college. During July 1993, Dr. William F. Walsh, a graduate of John Jay College and Fordham University, became director of the Southern Police Institute. Dr. Walsh had retired from the New York City Police Department before joining the faculty of the Pennsylvania State University. He brought to the position of director the valuable combination of extensive police experience and recognized academic scholarship.

Broadened Geographical Base

The unique course offerings and exceptionally well-planned instruction in the Southern Police Institute appeals to student-officers throughout the United States. Originally the institute faculty accepted student-officers only from southern and border states and commonwealths. Today the Southern Police Institute is southern in name and hospitality only. During the past several years, student-officers from New Zealand and Great Britain have graduated from the Administrative Officers Course. Seminars have been conducted in Alaska and Hawaii. Dr. Wilson has obtained grants to enable SPI faculty and graduates to conduct programs in Hungary and Romania. Training has been offered on Belknap Campus for officers from Hungary and Russia. No parochial or geographical boundaries influence the selection of students, the content of the programs, nor the location of the offerings. The faculty and staff welcome applications from officers throughout the United States and those from foreign countries as well. In addition, the SPI faculty and staff are prepared to take seminars to any location in the country.

The SPI Alumni Association

One of the most significant assets of the Southern Police Institute is the Southern Police Institute Alumni Association. Created during 1951 by graduates, the association has grown into one of the most active alumni groups at the University of Louisville.