The Denison Police Department announced Tuesday that two of its lieutenants were among the most recent graduates of the Leadership Command College. The program is taught through a consortium of Texas universities and provides law enforcement administrators with skills that can be used to effectively manage their agencies and officers.

Lt. Paul Neumann and Lt. Fred Tillman, who’s combined law enforcement experience totals nearly 40 years, completed the program as members of the Command College’s 80th graduating class. In a news release distributed Tuesday, the department said less than 3 percent of the 77, 712 law enforcement officers in Texas have graduated from the program.

“It was a grueling nine-week experience where we interacted with some really energetic and knowledgeable scholars from A&M, Texas Woman’s University and, of course, Sam Houston State University,” Neumann said. “Along with that, the curriculum was demanding, but the interactions that we were able to have with leaders from other agencies was invaluable.”

The program was founded by the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas in 1987 and is broken into three, three-week modules. The curriculum focuses on leadership skills, professional ethics and integrity, as well as communications, personnel management, current criminal justice system issues and domestic and international crime. Officers are also given the chance to study specialized topics of their choosing.

“There were many facets to our training,” Tillman said. “Everything from counterterrorism to organizational theory.”

Tillman said as the program’s name the might suggest, leadership was highly emphasized, but particularly so among new officers who enter might enter with mindsets and experience that differ from more senior department leaders.

“Strong leadership is absolutely crucial, especially in the future,” Tillman said. “With the come up of a new generation of officers, we have to find ways to effectively lead them, to help them self actualize, and ensure that the community they serve is getting the most out of their public safety professionals.”

Neumann said the emphasis on leading younger officers reinforced the value of technology to him as a means of both relating to officers and directing them.

“The biggest difference is probably the fact that they’re so technology savvy,” Neumann said of newer officers. “We came in with paper and then the computer. But you have to adjust.”

Both Tillman and Neumann said they were glad to have completed the program and would use the skills and knowledge they gained to better themselves and their fellow officers.

“If you don’t have good leadership, you don’t have a constructive department,” Neumann said. “Leadership is not leading from in front, it’s leading from behind. You have to set a standard, give the tools to the individuals that you supervise and let them go to work. You’re there for support, you’re there for guidance.”