When you stand 6 feet 8 inches, it’s easy to see how Lt. Buck Wilkins of the Bossier Sheriff’s Office tends to get noticed just about everywhere he goes. But he is getting noticed for something different after he and fellow deputy, Lt. Scott Crawford, graduated from a highly-intense national leadership program.
The National Command & Staff College conferred MAGNUS Star Performer status on Lt. Wilkins and Lt. Crawford and 21 other law enforcement leaders during a graduation ceremony July 23 at the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office Training Center and Special Services Complex in Luling, La.
“It was a great experience and taught you how to be a better leader for your department and your community,” Lt. Wilkins, a 27-year veteran with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office. He and Crawford were part of Session 12 of the Leadership Education Program that lasted eight weeks and included online and in-person training sessions. “There was nothing easy about it…it was hard,” Wilkins admitted.
College President Anthony Normore, Ph.D., said candidates read seven books, participated in more than 320 hours each of blended graduate level online and classroom learning, discussed numerous best practices, exceeded all requirements for essays, case studies and discussion boards, participated in scenario-based interactive simulations, and in teams researched and presented to the class a Capstone Research Project based on a current law enforcement topic.”
Lt. Crawford serves as the assistant warden at the Bossier Medium Correctional Facilities. He admitted the program was intense, saying, “It was a daunting task at first, with a lot of writing and lectures.” But he says he is better equipped to be an even better leader.
“It’s an honor that I was selected to attend, and I owe Chief Evans (Corrections Division assistant chief) and Sheriff Whittington a debt of gratitude for having the faith and belief in me to send me to the program.”
The 23 officers in the school hailed from nine law enforcement agencies in Louisiana, as well as an agency from New Mexico and one from South Carolina.
“You got to meet folks from all over, and I made some great relationships,” said Lt. Wilkins. “What they teach you is to become a Magnus leader, one who can lead anybody,” which will aid Wilkins as he serves as D-shift lieutenant on Patrol. He has also served in Corrections, Transportation, Dispatch, D.A.R.E., Civil, and Detectives.
Dr. Mitch Javidi is the founder & CEO of the National Command & Staff College.
“The demanding nature of the program is designed to promote a sense of true accomplishment among participants,” said Javidi. “We are very proud of our graduates and MAGNUS Star Performer conferees. These remarkable individuals light the way for others in law enforcement and represent a commitment by their respective organizations to develop individual excellence, ensure agency effectiveness and improve community impact.”
Having Dr. Javidi teach one of the classes was encouraging to Lt. Crawford.
“On one of the days of our classroom training, Dr. Javidi taught the class, and he was an inspiring man,” said Crawford, who joined the Bossier Sheriff’s Office in 2011. “Hearing his story how he came over to America as a young boy with his family from the Republic of Georgia, and the education and knowledge he has achieved was encouraging. He has a passion for this program he started, and he was certainly an inspiration.”
“Our leaders at the Bossier Sheriff’s Office set the tone for the departments and teams they lead, and it’s very important they have the tools they need to excel in their supervisory roles,” emphasized Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington. “Lt. Wilkins and Lt. Crawford now have a renewed commitment of service to not only the Sheriff’s Office, but the residents of Bossier Parish we serve.”
One of the leadership traits both deputies emphasized learning was how to deal with toxic employees, as well as ensure you don’t become a toxic leader. Wilkins also explained the importance of staying involved.
“Don’t just be a leader,” Lt. Wilkins said, “Get involved with your officer’s lives. Find out more about them, what they do on and off duty.”