If you are a SPI alum and would like to share your memory, words of wisdom or what your SPI experience meant to you, please send us a message. If you would, include your name, rank, department (or former dept. if retired) and the course attended along with your message.
Thanks to our alumni for posting their memories of the Southern Police Institute!
Major LaVita Chavous, 102nd AOC
"I would highly recommend this course to law enforcement executives who are trying to enhance their professional development for their agencies and future careers. I attended SPI’s twelve week Administrative Officer’s Course in 1999 as a sergeant on the graduate track. The course was informative and challenging. I enjoyed learning about leadership, legal considerations and critical issues in policing. I also developed a network of law enforcement executives across the country that I can contact to gain access to innovative strategies and other law enforcement information. This helps to increase my knowledge, skills and abilities in my law enforcement profession.
I continue to utilize the information I learned in the Southern Police Institute. I feel more confident as a command staff member in my organization. I have developed broad and critical thinking skills. My ability to problem-solve as a manager and come up with creative resolutions has increased. Many times, being a graduate of SPI has given me an edge in interviews for positions within and outside of my agency since they are nationally renowned. I had a wonderful experience attending SPI and will never forget the other law enforcement executives I met. I not only gained a law enforcement network, but made friends and created many memories with them and the staff of SPI. I would highly recommend this course to others."
Lt. Jessie Browning, 125th AOC
"John Dewey said, “we do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” As a graduate of the 125th AOC class at SPI three years ago, I find this quote very applicable. The process of learning new information about leadership, organizational philosophies, and evidence-based strategies was just the beginning. Being fully immersed in this three month program with law enforcement leaders from all around the nation sparked professional ideas and career interests in me that I never knew existed. Prior to the AOC class, my interest in the “big-picture” was limited. But I began to see the concepts taught at SPI taking hold in my agency, and I wanted to be a part of the growth. I have drawn on the information I learned along every step of the way. So here I am: a twenty-four year veteran, newly enrolled college student, with my eyes on future promotions; and, I truly attribute this to the AOC experience. All agencies deserve to have inspired leaders, and all leaders deserve to be this inspired."
Director Jay Fernandez, 22nd CODC
"I had the pleasure of attending the 22nd CODC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from March 16 - July 24, 1998. I enjoyed the challenging curriculum and learned a tremendous amount about command level police management and supervision. I give full credit to the CODC program and the excellent staff for preparing me to advance in my career where I was ultimately appointed Chief in Deerfield Beach, Florida. After retiring in 2010, I accepted the Director of Public Safety position for the City of North Myrtle Beach, SC. The best move in my career ever! Knowing how important the SPI experience was to my career, I wanted to provide the same experience to my command staff. Thus far, our Police Chief Phil Webster graduated from the 130th AOC in the fall of 2013 and just this past fall our Police Captain Mike Baldasarre graduated from the 132nd AOC. We already have plans to send another command staff member in the fall of 2015. I cannot thank the University of Louisville, Southern Police Institute enough for preparing me for advancement in my career and helping prepare our leaders here in North Myrtle Beach for tomorrow's law enforcement challenges."
Commander Esther Farmer,122 AOC
SPI’s AOC – A Valuable Tool
"As a newly appointed commander (February 2014), I rely on my training, past experience and fellow staff members for direction and guidance. SPI has proven to be a valuable tool to me. Today, I implemented a SARA model initiative, used by the Louisville Metro PD, to which I was exposed while attending the 122nd AOC at SPI. The research we conducted and studied have allowed me to develop policing strategies that are already proven so as not to reinvent the wheel. I definitely recommend SPI's AOC!"
Charlie Spillers, 60th AOC
"For me, as for many others, the AOC was a career changing professional education - one that benefited me throughout my career, first as a regional commander with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and later as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Attorney Advisor to the Iraqi High Tribunal and as the DOJ Justice Attaché for Iraq. In particular, AOC helped develop an expanded mindset and forward-looking approach to leadership with an emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and initiative, along with a constant openness to the ideas and contributions of others. The lessons I learned in AOC served me well in every position I have held and as an adjunct professor I now try to instill the same broad, dynamic approach in my students. To the staff and professors of SPI: Thank you and 'well done'."
Chief Mark Garnsey
"The networking between attendees cannot be overstated. I met Chief Troy Abney there, who soon became the chief of the Nevada Highway Patrol after we attended the class. I followed Troy's advice on several issues, and made a good long distance friend. His biggest suggestion was to make sure the job I took was a good fit, and it sure appears to be that way now."
Course Attended: Chief Executive Leadership
Captain (Ret) Donald Ferguson, 93rd AOC
SPI is a "Class Act"
"Breath taking!!!!!! There is no institution for law enforcement learning greater than "The Southern Police Institute". The "Prospectus," The "Syabi" Lol (Dr. Walsh.) A "Great" experience."
Chief of Police, Dennis Nelson, 111th AOC
SPI is the Place for Law Enforcement Professionals to Become Leaders
"My experience at SPI certainly ranks among the highest achievements in my law enforcement career. The training experience is second to none among professional training programs and I encourage anyone interested in advancing in their career or expanding their knowledge to get involved in this course. The instructors are practical experts in the field and teach on a level that all cops can relate to. The professional contacts are truly invaluable and the lasting friendships are priceless."
Major Stanley Lampkin, Retired, 103rd AOC
SPI - The Best Police Leadership Training
"Prior to attending the Southern Police Institute, I did not fully understand or appreciate the benefit of leadership training for upper level law enforcement management for someone who had been in law enforcement for more than twenty years. But, I found the training I received at SPI the most challenging, informative and invaluable training of my career. The training gave me the knowledge and confidence to provide reasoned and sound decisions as a leader and I truly believed it made a difference in my organization.
For any law enforcement agency that is considering a training program that educated their law enforcement managers and provides the needed leadership skills and knoweldge that will ultimately benefit their organization in the long run, I recommend SPI."
Lieutenant David Rushton, 123rd AOC
My AOC Experience
"I have attended many law enforcement training schools in my 20+ year career and the Administrative Officers Course is by far the best course I have attended. I spent 12 weeks learning how to be a more efficient and effective law enforcement leader while making many new friends in the process. Networking with all the other students from the different law enforcement agencies from around the country has proven to be a valuable resource as well. I returned to my department a more confident supervisor due to the high quality training I received and I felt more prepared to handle any future challenges in my job as a Sergeant. When the opportunity for advancement arose, I excelled in the Lieutenant’s assessment center and placed first out of all the candidates. It was pointed out to me by several people that it was evident that my training at SPI had paid off and helped prepare me for my promotion to Lieutenant."
Assistant Chief of Police Mike Cochran, 105th AOC
Highly Recommend the AOC
"The AOC program at the SPI was an exceptional one that gave me first-hand experience in being overloaded to the point that I thought it was not doable, but it was. The multitasking skills that the AOC helps develop have been invaluable throughout my career. The friends I made there were also exceptional and many of us still stay in touch. The academics at the AOC, particularly the graduate level options, are top notch. I strongly recommend sending people to the program that you want to develop for future leadership roles in law enforcement."
Captain (Ret) Jarvis Saunders, 60th AOC
"The education I received at SPI, along with the people I got to know has proven invaluable to me since my graduation. Not only, in my police career (retiring as a Captain) but, in my founding and heading the international non-profit organization, Project Lifesaver. This organization is grounded in working with law enforcement and public safety."
Chief Brian Phillips, 116th AOC
"In the first week of my attendance at the 116th AOC, one of my instructors - Alex Ferguson, asked the class if any of us would one day like to be a Chief or Sheriff and lead their agency. Alex then asked me directly if that was a goal of mine, and I was personally surprised at how quickly I responded “No.” The next question Alex asked of me was “Why not?”
During that first week, I lacked the confidence to lead an agency. But over the next three months I learned more than I would have thought possible; not only from the classroom instruction, but from all the time and discussions I had with my fellow classmates. I developed valuable knowledge and future professional contacts and personal friendships that I still have five years later.
I took Alex Ferguson’s question as kind of a professional challenge. A year after graduating with the class of the 116th, I had a new found confidence to retire early and accept a Police Chief Position in Colorado. I truly believe that I owe that confidence to the instructors and my classmates of the SPI."
Lieutenant Barry Madden, 100th AOC
"It was a great opportunity and experience to attend the Southern Police Institute's Administrative Officers Course. The curriculum and faculty definitely challenged each of us to focus on making our respective police agencies more effective and efficient. I found it interesting, regardless of the size or type of law enforcement agency, the challenges and issues are the same. The professional contacts and friendships are invaluable."
Executive Director Vernon "Frank" Adams, 87th AOC
Police Leaders for the 21st Century
"Graduating from the 87th AOC was truly a career changing event for me. I attended SPI almost 20 years ago and it changed my whole perspective of supervision, management and administration of a law enforcement agency. Since that time, I have recommended several young mid-managers from Nevada law enforcement agencies attend the SPI - AOC program and they too returned with similar experiences. Since retiring from the Nevada Department of Public Safety, I have had the privilege of serving in two other law enforcement related organizations and used the tools provided by SPI to assist me in the promotion of professional law enforcement practices. It is something that every potential law enforcement administrator should be required to attend. SPI will continue to produce excellent law enforcement leaders for the 21st Century."
Deputy Regional Director Mark Cranfill, 125th AOC
A Truly Unique Professional Development Opportunity
"Graduating from the Southern Police Institute’s 125th Administrative Officers Course (AOC) is one of the most beneficial professional development experiences I have participated in during my municipal and federal law enforcement career. The AOC is a challenging police executive level course of study that integrates research concerning the application of modern “real world” police best practices, foundational principles of the criminal justice system, emergent legal trends and the study of proven leadership models. The course provides attendees an opportunity to greatly enhance their ability to develop and implement complex crime reduction strategies in a variety of policing environments.
AOC classes are comprised of senior law enforcement personnel representing a cross section of police agencies nationally. This provided a rich learning experience in which classmates frankly discuss and consider current police practices and challenges within a unique learning dynamic. The professional affiliations I developed with AOC faculty and classmates endure beyond graduation and are extremely valuable personally and professionally. I strongly recommend the Southern Police Institute’s Administrative Officers Course to any senior law enforcement agency administrator who wishes to enhance their own executive leadership skills or develop those critical skills within their own agency."
Danny Miles (Ret), 102nd AOC
Covington Police Department
Leadership for Today and Tomorrow
"It's understood that only a few officers will get the opportunity for such a wonderful experience. The exposure to some of the top law enforcement officials from around the world, mixed with the outstanding staff and saturated with learning continues to serve me to this day. After retiring as a Captain with the Covington Kentucky Police Department, I went on to be appointed the Chief Deputy Kenton County Clerk. To this day I cherish the friendships and skills developed at the Southern Police Institute. While my formal education continued, I only wear the SPI ring. Happy Anniversary. Continued success."
Chief Bruce Davis (Ret), 77th AOC
The Best Available Police Executive Training
"When I attended the AOC I had already completed a Master Degree in Management. Despite that I found that the AOC course content was very challenging. The things I learned in the course were of invaluable help to me when I served as a project manager on several multi-million Dollar computer and communications project with the Hollywood, Florida PD. When I first decided to leave Hollywood PD to become a police chief it was clear to me in my first job as Chief that getting selected from 140 other candidates was certainly influenced by the reputation of SPI and my graduation from a number of SPI's management courses including the AOC. After serving as Police Chief in Liberty, MO for several years I was selected to start up a brand new police department in the Village of Pinecrest, Miami-Dade County. The coursework I completed at SPI was of invaluable assistance to me in this very complex task. After a very satisfying career, including teaching at a local college, I am now retired in Crossville, TN."
Assistant Chief George Orr, 106th AOC
Big Orr and My Time at SPI
"The knowledge and the life long friendships that I have developed since attending the class are the greatest things I took away from class. It was the most challenging thing that I have ever done in my life. I would take nothing for it."
Deputy Chief Steve Smith, 100th AOC
A Proud SPI Alum!
"My SPI AOC experience is one of my fondest memories, and was the most significant developmental opportunity in my career. The coursework was challenging and expanded my thinking tremendously as a new leader, and I made many new friends in the profession from around the country. The Graduate Option gave me my first graduate-level university credits, which motivated me to go back to school and earn my masters degree in 2003. My SPI experience continued to build me years after I left!"
Chief Charles T.C. Kamai, 99th, AOC
"The most challenging course I ever attended, but well worth the gray hair and weight loss. I was promoted to Chief within a year of graduating. I have used, bench-marked, copied and implemented everything I learned from the AOC."
Captain Jeff Eason, 102nd AOC
This Was a Great Experience for Me
"I truly learned more than I could have imagined. It was great getting to meet fellow officers from all over the country. It was a very challenging course but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything."
Lieutenant James Heady, 124th AOC
I Feel Blessed!
"I feel blessed, not only for getting through the training, but also for being given the opportunity to go. The Southern Police Institute professors, guest speakers, and instructors are top notch and they are very knowledgeable of the material.
In the AOC, through the combination of class work, studying, group projects, presentations, papers, stress, dorm life, examinations, and more, I formed a special connection with my SPI associates. The friendships and bridges that you build during the AOC will not only help in your career, but will last a lifetime. I miss everyone and hope they are all doing well.
When thinking of SPI, I often relate it to an encouraging quote from my former Colonel Robert Milligan, "This is a great opportunity for personal and professional development that has applications far beyond your career progression. The long term rewards far outweigh any short term inconveniences."
I hope someone finds those words of encouragement and signs up for AOC. It is a great experience!
Lieutenant-Retired, Bobby Ratliff, 94th AOC
A Great Lifelong Achievement
"What a great experience to be associated with such an elite Institute and the many members to which I have become acquainted!
My greatest memories are not only from attending the 94th AOC, but from being a part of the SPI Alumni Association (SPIAA) and the SPIAA National President from 2004 through 2005.
The Williamsburg re-training conference was a huge success as a result of many long days of fund-raising and organizing by some of the greatest people I have ever worked with.
I want to thank my wife, Linda, for many long hours spent supporting me during this challenging time and for always standing by my side.
Dr. Bill Walsh will always, in my mind, be a legend of the Southern Police Institute. He issued many academic challenges that we as students of the 94th thought could never be met, but – thanks to his guidance - were achieved.
May the SPIAA National and Virginia Chapters forever be strong and committed to broadening the minds of all National and Virginia alumni with continued quality and superb training.
As you can see from the photo, the many Harley Davidson raffles were a big part of our fundraising activities from 2001-2005."
Sheriff Joe Browning
Small Agency Management
"I attended the Management of the Small Law Enforcement Agency seminar in May 2001 and consider it one of the better courses I have ever attended on Law Enforcement management. I hope to return and complete the NSA Executive Leadership Program. SPI is first rate in training! Thanks again."
Course Attended: Management of a Small Law Enforcement Agency
Rick Pleasants (No Photo Submitted), 64th AOC
What an Experience!
"There are so many memories of this experience. First, the dormitory life was something I had never experienced (except in the Army), and will never forget!"
Lt. Donna R. Ogden, 57th AOC
"I am proud of my affiliation with SPI and University of Louisville, and gained so much through the contacts made with my fellow classmates and instructors. In fact, our class held a "reunion" last year, and one is in the works for this year. The course taught us some old things in new ways, and gave us a new way of thinking, to bring our agencies forward."