In January 2018, Governor Ralph Northam appointed Colonel Gary Settle to the post of Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. Although Settle has 32-years of experience and insight to draw on, he believes that the 10 weeks he spent at the National Criminal Justice Command College (NCJCC)
were extraordinarily important in helping him develop the skills demanded by his current responsibilities. “As a law enforcement officer, attending the Command College was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” he says.
The Virginia State Police requires officers seeking promotion to captain to attend a rigorous management program. “When I arrived at the Command College, my first thought was that I had better things to be doing than spending 10 weeks away from my work,” Settle remembers. “It was soon clear to me how extraordinary an opportunity this was going to be.” Settle has high praise for the program’s instructors and the breadth of the course work—which includes such issues as leadership, management, and communication—but he is most appreciative of its emphasis on self-assessment. “The program compelled me to examine my leadership style and to evaluate my performance more analytically,” he says. “It helped me focus on ways to strengthen my leadership skills and led me to take a more critical look at operational issues.”
As an example, Settle notes that when he was starting out, individual local, state, and federal agencies functioned in their own silos, without significant interaction. At the Command College, Settle began not only to appreciate the benefits of collaboration but learned how best to build relationships across organizations. While at the Wytheville Division, this background helped him forge a more effective partnership among law enforcement agencies targeting major methamphetamine-trafficking organizations in Southwest Virginia.
The Command College’s emphasis on creativity and innovation has also served Settle well, especially now that the Virginia State Police has embarked on an ambitious strategic planning process. “Being open to change is a fundamental part of successful policing,” he says. “It was one of the most important lessons I brought back from the Command College and is no less critical today than it was 12 years ago when I graduated.”