Welcome to the launch of our new quick interview series called Connect Four
. This series highlights leaders from different segments of society gleaning insights into their leadership experiences and perspectives. The Connect Four
format includes three questions plus a rapid fire "Top 3-2-1 List".
Our inaugural guest is Chief Greg Garner of the Selma, California Police Department. Chief Garner is celebrating his first year as Chief of Police for a growing community of over 25,000 people in central San Joaquin Valley. Prior to this position, Chief Garner retired as Captain from the Fresno Police Department where he commanded the city's South Bureau. Fresno is the fifth largest city in California, with a population of over one-half million. The department has approximately 1,000 employees.
Chief Garner is also noted for his commitment as a facilitator for the Tools for Tolerance for Law Enforcement training program at Museum of Tolerance, in Los Angeles, CA where he presents in such topics as Cultural Diversity and Supervising Line Staff.
Welcome Chief Garner to Connect Four
. Thank you for joining us and letting us celebrate with you your first anniversary as Chief of Police.
1. What were your leadership expectations before you took on your role as Police Chief for the City of Selma?
: Prior to taking the job, I had heard from many sources that there had been a "leadership void" at the department for several years. I was replacing an "Acting Chief," who had been in that role for nearly three years. Not knowing his long-term status, it was easy to see why he didn't do much to move the department forward. I expected to find a willing group of department members, anxiously awaiting direction, which was exactly what I found. That anxiousness translated into a willingness to take part in forming that direction collectively, based on shared values.
2. What are the most important lessons you've learned about leadership this year?
: I learned there is a thirst for honest, strong leadership, certainly in this profession. I also learned what can happen to an organization that is forced to suffer an absence of leadership for extended periods of time. The effect it has on personnel and the culture of the department as a whole.
3. Leadership-wise, what is the biggest difference in working in a fairly large organization such as the Fresno Police Department to a smaller one like Selma Police?
The number of personnel with what I would describe as "natural" leadership skills is much smaller, although the percentages are similar. I would estimate about 5% of the 800+ sworn officers at my former department would fall into this group, the same percentage here in Selma. Using "natural leaders" within an organization to help define a vision is essential. With a 45-person department now, its much more difficult to rely on the 2-3 individuals here that possess those qualities.
4. Now we've come to the Rapid-Fire portion of the interview where we ask you to share your 3-2-1 lists:
Top 3 reasons people should come visit the Central Valley of California
1. The life-blood of the state can be found here, both in its people and its products.
2. Spirit of community. People care and look out for each other.
3. Tremendous potential for positive growth.
Top 2 things you like to do while off-duty (which we know never really quite happens for a police chief)
1. Spend time with my now-adult daughters
2. Avid Major League Baseball fan. Follow the fortunes of my favorite team.
Favorite inspirational quotation
Nearly all men can stand up to adversity. If you want to test his character, give him power.
Thank you, Chief Garner for joining us in our first Connect Four
. We appreciate you sharing your insights into your experience. We wish you and your city all the best.