Expanding the Scope of Leadership: Leading Through Publication
By Brian Boetig, M.S., M.A.
The fundamental qualities of effective law enforcement leaders include mentoring, sharing, and improving the overall professional environment of their agencies. Writing articles for publication in criminal justice periodicals broadens the scope of leadership impact to an audience much larger than your department or local community.
Law enforcement leaders should try to recollect novel, important, and effective programs they have read about in criminal justice publications throughout the years. Imagine the potential outcome of taking a lifesaving program or effective management practice that the department implemented successfully and sharing it with the criminal justice community—including both domestic and international agencies. Visualize conveying valuable career experiences, not only to rookies in the department but also to the entire future generation of law enforcement officers. The impact of publishing quality articles, akin to the impact of providing quality leadership, is difficult to quantify; however, it is undeniably valuable to the advancement of the criminal justice profession.
Writing articles and having them published provides numerous benefits for law enforcement officers. In some cases there is the possibility of monetary compensation, although, more important, being published in a professionally recognized criminal justice periodical enhances the author's credibility. For example, if a police academy instructor teaches a course on the proper techniques for conducting neighborhood canvass interviews and the handout provided in class is a published article authored by the instructor, it lends credence to the instructor’s breadth of knowledge on the topic and role as a leader in that particular field.
Being a published author is recognized universally as a professional development accomplishment. Think of attending a promotion interview and describing to the panel of evaluators how the new vehicle maintenance program was such a success at the department that a national criminal justice publication accepted your article on the program and shared the idea with thousands of other law enforcement agencies. If asked to highlight written communication skills, being published is a much greater example of your prowess than simply citing the infrequency of having accident reports returned for corrections.
Special Agent Boetig heads the FBI’s Buffalo, New York, Division.
Beginning the process of publishing an article is simple. First, become familiar with the target audience of the periodicals for which you are interested in writing. Are the readers primarily law enforcement managers, patrol officers, investigators, forensic examiners, correctional officers, fleet managers, or firearms range masters? The target audience of your article must coincide with that of the publication you choose.
Second, explore the topics covered in the periodical and the authors of the articles. Does the subject matter represent extensive academic research efforts, practical guidance from current and retired law enforcement personnel, or product reviews? Many publications have editorial calendars that list the subject for each issue. In addition to the topics, read the author biographies that coincide with each article to determine if you are in the company of your peers.
Finally, explore the author guidelines that each periodical provides to answer any questions. These standards will clearly articulate the desired length and other requirements for articles. The guidance often includes the formatting style, whether query letters or completed articles are preferred, how photographs are submitted, the necessity for sole rights to an article—not concurrently submitting the article to multiple publishers—and other important instructions.
Leaders and Authors
Two characteristics of both effective leaders and published authors are motivation and patience. If motivated, leaders will find noteworthy topics they can and should share. Use education, experience, training, and knowledge of current events, trends, and practices to evolve the information from mere thoughts to a coherent article. Throughout this process, seek the assistance of colleagues to peer review, edit, and possibly coauthor the article—seeking input from others is a notable characteristic of successful leaders. Once an article is written, patience—another strong leadership quality—with the article submission, review, and publishing process is necessary.
Effective law enforcement leaders mentor, share, and improve the environment of their organizations. Writing for professional publications can expand and enhance their impact on a population that far exceeds the department or local community. The steps to being published are not complex, and individuals can seek input and assistance from their peers to review or coauthor articles. Above all, motivation and patience will separate those who choose to lead through publication from those who do not.
For additional information Special Agent in Charge Boetig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Two characteristics of both effective leaders and published authors are motivation and patience.”