January 6, 2023 3 min read
Lone Star College Police Department Improves Culture and Retention with Guardian Tracking
Chief of Police
When Chief Paul Willingham began his tenure at Lone Star College Police Department, he found a significant amount of wariness among his officers. Due to a departmental culture that lacked trust and transparency, many officers had grown to expect reprimands rather than coaching and positive feedback.
“There was no system for documenting and acknowledging the good stuff; everything was handwritten,” said Chief Willingham. “And the only time anyone wrote anything was when something negative happened.”
Plus, with 207 personnel distributed among four patrol districts and 1,400 square miles, it was particularly challenging to have insight into the day-to-day events and reach everyone regularly throughout the decentralized area.
To effectively improve the culture, Chief Willingham knew he needed a solution that would help him reach all personnel—from sworn officers to dispatchers to administrative assistants.
Moreover, Chief Willingham wanted a solution that would be transparent to both supervisors and officers.
With Guardian Tracking’s accessibility and focus on positive recognition, the solution was aligned with his goals of fostering trust, providing more feedback and encouragement, and creating an environment where people wanted to work.
After implementing Guardian Tracking, Lone Star College PD began the hard work of building a culture of positive recognition.
“We pushed the supervisors to catch their people doing good things and document it. I wanted to see a 3:1 ratio of positive inserts over negative counseling.”
Chief Willingham has made a point to consistently review the Guardian Tracking entries and write encouraging messages.
“Guardian Tracking gives me insight into the day-to-day work, the challenges, but also a lot of successes,” said Chief Willingham. “It’s helpful for morale when they know the Chief knows they are doing a good job.”
The department has also used Guardian Tracking to enable a values-based recognition program called the “Core Value Coin” awards. When an officer receives a positive write-up, it is recorded in Guardian Tracking and automatically tied to the relevant value.
When an officer does something outstanding tied to a value, the department holds a ceremony and presents the officer with a certificate and challenge coin. This is also noted in Guardian Tracking, and if an officer receives a coin for all five core values, the officer is eligible for an additional reward—such as extra administrative leave.
“We’ve established strong retention and more interest in leadership,” said Chief Willingham. “I used to get 2 out of 90 eligible to apply for supervisory roles. Now, we have a robust amount of folks interested.”
While the primary intent of Lone Star College PD is to increase positive recognition, the system has also been invaluable as a transparent digital personnel record system when issues inevitably arise. When anything is added to an individual’s file, they are notified and can review in Guardian Tracking at any time.
This feature is used in many agencies for coaching and early intervention but has also been invaluable in defending agencies against false allegations. During a lawsuit raised by a former Lone Star College PD officer, the department used Guardian Tracking’s audit trail to show that the officer had been informed repeatedly of conduct issues leading up to termination.
To read more client testimonials, check out our Success Stories.