Ever since she started 30 years ago as an undercover narcotics officer for the University of Virginia Police Department, Sgt. Tracie Craner has worked hard to hone her skills, both as an officer and a manager. In fact, she chose to work in an academic setting precisely because of the educational opportunities it would afford.
Craner's decision to attend the National Criminal Justice Command College is the latest example of her efforts to extend her proficiency. This rigorous 10-week program is offered by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies in partnership with the Virginia State Police.
“I had already gone through many phases of leadership training,” she says. “The Command College helps you take your skills as a supervisor to a new level.”
The program draws police officers from every law enforcement agency in the Commonwealth. Classes are held five days a week, seven to eight hours a day, from July to September—and graduates earn 15 hours of college credit from UVA. University faculty and top law enforcement officials instruct students on issues such as leadership, forensic science, collaboration and negotiation, and trends in criminal justice and law enforcement.
Craner cites three ways in which the program proved valuable to her. “You take away a toolkit of the best management practices,” she says. “You have more choices when responding to a given situation.”
She also found that the program prompted her to consider her strengths and weakness more carefully. One result is that she now finds herself listening to people differently.
And finally, she gained a network of experienced senior professionals with whom she could exchange ideas. “I feel I can turn to any of the 23 officers in the class for advice or insight,” she says.