Celebrating 10 Years of SPSCO with Lin Krohn

 SPSCO course director Lin KrohnJan. 30, 2024 – After more than 27 years as a NUCPS instructor – and nearly 15 of those years in online education – course director Lin Krohn is the doyenne of the School of Police Staff & Command Online. She joined the NUCPS family as a SPSC instructor in 1997, nine years before retiring from her 27-year career with the Wisconsin State Patrol, and was instrumental in helping bring Supervision of Police Personnel online in 2011. She followed up that success with helping to develop the SPSC Online program, which went live for the first time in January 2014. Lin’s connection with NUCPS, though, goes back to 1987, when she graduated SPSC as a member of Class #16.

Our conversation with Lin – appropriately enough, online – began with her take on the most significant evolution in law enforcement since her career began 1977, that of participative leadership. Simply put, command staff listen more now to their communities and their own employees. “When I began it was very militaristic and very autocratic,” explains Lin. “I've seen that become a source of major change. The level of service to the community has grown immensely. There's an inner partnership that there never was before. There was ‘us and them.’ And now it's us, all of us, incorporated.” Lin attributes these cultural changes to a more educated law enforcement workforce.

The Online Learning Environment

Her success as an online course director is the result of her own dedication to continuing education. “When we began (developing) SPP online, the consultant who helped John Fay (a long-time NUCPS adjunct management instructor) and I put it together highly recommended that we take a course for online instructors. The instruction course we took was with other Northwestern University professors to get acclimated and acquainted with what the expectations are for the students as well as the organization. It was an enlightening course leading us to successfully engage the online methods of instruction and education. When we sprung Supervision of Police Personnel Online, John and I knew exactly what we needed to do and how to do it.  The same good principles were applied to School Police Staff and Command Online.”  

While teaching SPPO, Lin was tapped to help develop SPSCO. “Shelly (Michelle Camden, now director of NUCPS) surrounded herself with staff who wanted to see SPSC online,” explained Krohn, “and she gave us the tools. I like to say she suited us up, and we broke through that door of online leadership management training with the School Police Staff and Command, the first online version of a leading course for police managers and administrators. The course continues to evolve because law enforcement is always evolving.”

January 2024 marked the opening of the 62nd SPSCO class, and the program has far surpassed its earliest expectations. According to Lin, preliminary thoughts were that “we were going to be able to give those in small departments who can't leave to go to a course the opportunity to go to SPSC. But it expanded beyond that. We have people from large departments — even chiefs from large departments -— that say they much prefer to do online courses.” Continues Lin, “What really surprises me is how many students we get online from all different branches of the federal government.” She underscores the unique perspectives that the interaction of these students from such varied agencies offer, giving participants the benefits of understanding law enforcement from different angles and connecting with leaders from different professional backgrounds. 

Dale Call (SPSCO Class #381) joined Westport (CT) Police Department in 1981 and became Chief of Police in 2011. He retired from the department in 2016 and joined Lin as a second SPSCO course director. Lin and Dale assist students in acclimating to the SPSCO environment. Much of their individual guidance is accomplished through phone, text, and email. “It really makes a big difference to them,” says Lin. “For instance, Dale has been a student of SPSCO. They're very appreciative of his experiences as a student because he can tell them what it's like from the perspective of a student.” She and Dale work closely with the online instructors and mentor students coming on online with how to make it work their experience work. “I commend our instructors for going above and beyond during their weeks of instruction. They're always available via text, email, and phone. They are immediate in their responses and sincere in their assistance. You know, you just don't get that one-on-one connection in most learning environments. Some of our online instructors get really concerned when students don't show up or don’t show up adequately. They immediately get a hold of the director, thinking something has happened to them. They care, and they are there personally as well as professionally.  They are dedicated to the program and all participants.” 

Lin believes that SPSCO offers the highest quality class participation and cohesion. “The students really gel during the discussions because they feel comfortable.” She notes that students take advantage of the 24 /  7 ability to communicate and discuss. “They become very communicative when it's on discussion boards. They don't have to limit what they're saying.”  

Of course, the benefits of SPSCO were never more apparent than during the pandemic. “When the pandemic hit, everything shut down but us online. We kept on going. We had students sick. We had students who were overworked, who couldn't even go home. We had students with family members who died. We kept on going. We kept on plugging through. We never shut down. We were kind of unique in that sense. We were able to be very accommodating and work around the things that were happening to (students) – and be sincere about it. We (instructors) were all law enforcement so we knew what students were going through.”

Lin emphasizes that SPSCO’s success has been a collected effort by instructors, Sandra Mayfield (SPSCO Program Coordinator), and all of the NUCPS staff, under the professional guidance and direction of Shelly Camden. “It's the Sandra Mayfields. It's the Shellys. It's everybody, collectively, all dedicated to the same goal and purpose who makes these courses successful.”   

Confidence in Competence

Labor relations, budgets, statistics, grant writing . . . all are part of an intense academic curriculum with lessons that students can immediately implement in their agencies. Besides the knowledge shared during the courses, Lin hopes students pay the good forward and promote professionalism and integrity. “In the many years that I have been at NUCPS, we have received evaluations and personal letters from students, sharing how the course has positively impacted their careers and their professionalism. Lin firmly believes that SPSC helps students learn how to maintain their professionalism and integrity by making them “more confident in their competence.” She explains that professionalism and integrity are, in great part, rooted in confidence and competence. “They learn how to stand up for what is RIGHT. They learn how to work with people in-house and externally.” She states that confidence through education helps professionals know “how to work with their superiors, their peers, people that work for them, as well as people within other bureaus/organizations and their community – all leading  to being the best that they can be with people and getting the best from people.  And that's what we really strive for in this course, too. That's going to add to the main reason why we are in law enforcement: We're an organization to protect and serve. And we do that through our professionalism and our quest for excellence in service. And the way to do that is through competence and confidence. It is a joy to see when it just clicks for the student.”

In Lin’s experience, SPSC leaves a student wanting more. “What I hear most from students is that there's so much that they learned that ‘they didn't know that they didn't know.’ The class opens their eyes to ‘How much else don't I know that I should know?’” Confidence in their learning compels many students to further their formal education. SPSCO graduates understand a degree is doable for them. “It's not just a career that we're helping them with,” says Lin. “I can't tell you how many students, after they have graduated, have said ‘I want my master’s, I'm going on to my Ph.D.’ Those who haven’t completed their bachelor’s degree tell us that they are going back for it. SPSC Online opens the door for them to reach for more.”

Back to top