Leadership in Turbulent Times

A Report from the 2018 Public Safety Summit

Download the Full Report >

The complete version of this report is available as a PDF


As the pace and power of social, political, and technological change accelerate in the world, citizens and stakeholders expect everything to happen faster – including the transformation of public safety and policing organizations.

This pace of change also creates a turbulent environment in which policing leaders have to manage the “political economy” surrounding them – including the competing demands of stakeholder groups, the need for delivering innovative new policing models, and the mandate to improve public trust and safety.

At The 2018 Public Safety Summit: Leadership in Turbulent Times, convened by Leadership for a Networked World and the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard in collaboration with Mark43, public safety leaders showed how they have been able to improve operationally, learn valuable lessons about their communities, and begin to chart a pathway forward for modern policing.

At the Summit, leaders grappled with tough questions including:

  • How and where can policing structures, systems, and processes support sustainable operations but also innovation?
  • What innovative data, analytics, and network-enabled solutions can bring newfound speed and agility to public safety operations?
  • How should recruitment, hiring, and training of human capital change, and how can organizational culture become an enabler of progress?
  • Finally, how can public safety officials manage the political environment to ensure legislators, elected officials, and stakeholders are aligned?

This report synthesizes the key findings from the Summit. In particular, it contains special sections sharing insights on policing in a politicized environment and the promise and peril of predictive policing. The report also delves into two case studies highlighting leadership in public safety organizations striving to build capacity, introduce new policing models, and develop dynamic organizational cultures:

  • In Washington, DC Chief Peter Newsham and Deputy Chief Matthew Bromeland recognized that they needed to improve data available to both police and the public. By partnering with technology providers and creating a new civilian investigative team, the police department is better able to respond to crime and provide better information to residents.
  • In New Zealand, police have shifted to a community-centric form of policing that cuts down on volume in the court and provides resources to citizens to help them stay out of the system and find the services they need. The transformation from a prosecutorial view of policing to a community-driven one has led to many positive outcomes.

We hope this report offers new ideas, strategies, and insights to public safety leaders, their organizations, and their partners around the world.

A letter from the Executive Director

Dr. Antonio Oftelie, Executive Director of Leadership for a Networked World, reflects on this year's summit and it's implications.

Read his letter here. >

“How ‘hot’ can your organization run? How much change and growth can your people handle? As a leader, part of your role is to enable people to ‘turn up the heat,’ and increase their capacity to change and transform.”
Thomas R. Eisenmann
Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Report Insights

  1. Integrating New Technology and Fresh Perspectives to Enhance Investigations in Washington DC

    Over the last several years, the Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department has embarked on a capacity- growing journey integrating new approaches to both human capital and technology. During their presentation at The 2018 Public Safety Summit: Leadership in Turbulent Times, Chief Peter Newsham and Chief of Staff Matthew Bromeland shared their story of collaborating with Mark43 to introduce new technology that provides real-time, essential data to their officers in the field and reduces the time spent on documentation. They also described how they simultaneously created a new civilian position for criminal research specialists to compile and analyze multiple streams of data to support detectives in the field in a timely manner.

  2. Launching a Predictive Analytics Initiative: Ten Key Leadership Insights

    As demands for greater policing accountability and outcomes continue to increase, police departments across the nation are embracing predictive analytics to not only increase efficiency in operations, but also improve crime prevention and response. Yet with all the potential, most leaders struggle with critical start-up questions such as: How do we start? Where should the methods be applied? What is the impact on the community? How do we test and scale the initiatives? During The 2018 Public Safety Summit: Leadership in Turbulent Times, Evan Levine from the New York Police Department, Jonathan Lewin from the Chicago Police Department, and Sean Malinowski from the Los Angeles Police Department shared lessons learned on implementing emerging data science and “predictive policing” into public safety strategies. The following synthesizes some of the most important leadership lessons learned.

  3. Transitioning to Community-Centered Policing at the New Zealand Police

    Guided by a “Prevention First” operating strategy, a more mobile New Zealand Police workforce has achieved impressive productivity gains, and helped build enhanced public trust and confidence. During his presentation at The 2018 Public Safety Summit: Leadership in Turbulent Times, the principal architect of this new policing model, Commissioner Mike Bush, introduced his organization’s shift from a prosecution to a prevention mindset, and from a largely offender-centric approach to one where the needs of victims are at the center of policing.

“We have to look at our outcomes in terms of community expectations, and make that something that we’re able to use to shape how we teach, how we train, how we learn, and how we develop our policies.”
Sheree Briscoe
Major, Baltimore Police Department


To prepare their organizations for the future, public safety leaders must effectively address a variety of new challenges ranging from increased demand for services, to closer public scrutiny, to greater complexity, to leading cultural change around how policing should be conducted, and more. The police departments featured at this year’s Summit are charting the way forward by rethinking how they work with the public and experimenting with new technologies that can improve information sharing and public safety.

The future of policing looks a lot like the future of all public service - collaborative, technology enabled, and outcomes focused. By joining with the community, police departments of the future have a critical role to play in improving civic life and helping citizens find the resources and support that they need to thrive. New technologies can help officers with that effort by serving as a force magnifier in the field, as well as enabling the analysis of disparate data sources to help uncover patterns and support more informed incident response. Finally, as the velocity of change continues to accelerate, model police departments will continue to focus on achieving the outcomes that matter most to citizens, partners, and communities.

The Executive Leadership Group

Leadership for a Networked World, and the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard would like to thank the Executive Leadership Group for their vision and ideas that aided the development of this Summit.

Art Acevedo
Chief of Police
Houston Police Department
Brandon Del Pozo
Chief of Police
Burlington Police Department
Michael Harrison
New Orleans Police Department
Chris Magnus
Chief of Police
Tuscon Police Department
Tom Manger
Chief of Police
Montgomery County Department of Police
Brian Manley
Chief of Police
Austin Police Department
Jim McDonnell
Los Angeles County
Peter Newsham
Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department, District of Columbia
Kathleen O'Toole
Executive Leadership Group; Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland
Dermot Shea
Deputy Commissioner, Operations
New York City Police Department
Erika Shields
Chief of Police
Atlanta Police Department
Scott Thomson
Chief of Police
Camden County Police Department
Chuck Wexler
Executive Director
Police Executive Research Forum

In Collaboration with

Mark43’s mission is to empower communities and their governments with new technologies that improve the safety and quality of life for all. The Mark43 platform unites a set of software tools securely in the cloud, already delivering 80% efficiency gains in reporting to officers on the street. With a vision to reinvent the lifecycle of public safety data, we continue to build new and unique products. Mark43 is based in New York, with offices in Los Angeles and Washington D.C., and has been recognized as the new leader in law enforcement tech by Forbes, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Fox Business News, and CNN. Learn more about us at www.mark43.com.

Hosted by

Leadership for a Networked World’s applied research, student innovation challenge, and on-campus summit programs are an initiative of Dr. Antonio M. Oftelie, Innovation Fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard (TECH), part of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. TECH is a hub for students, faculty, alumni, and government and industry leaders to learn together, collaborate, and innovate. LNW accelerates these efforts by connecting leaders across sectors and developing cutting-edge thought leadership on innovation and organizational transformation.

© 2020 Leadership for a Networked World. All Rights Reserved.