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 Sgts. Mathew McLean and Brandon Dowty stand at their graduation ceremony May 24. The program they graduated from was held for 10 months at the Troy Police Department Training Center.

Sgts. Mathew McLean and Brandon Dowty stand at their graduation ceremony May 24. The program they graduated from was held for 10 months at the Troy Police Department Training Center.

Photo provided by the Shelby Township Police Department

Shelby Township officers graduate from staff and command school

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 10, 2019

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Two Shelby Township police sergeants graduated from the School of Staff and Command at Northwestern University’s Center for Public Safety May 24 and will be moving up to take on leadership roles in their department.

Sgts. Matthew McLean and Brandon Dowty were among 44 law enforcement professionals in the state who graduated from the 451st class of the Center for Public Safety School of Police Staff and Command.

The program was hosted by the Troy Police Department at the Troy Police and Fire Training Center and ran for the past 10 months.

“The Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command is arguably the top leadership program in law enforcement in the United States,” Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide said via email.

The experience provides upper-level academic instruction; the students studied topics including leadership development, strategic planning and decision making; and it culminated with a staff study paper.

Dowty was hired by the department in 2008 and has served as an evidence technician and field training officer. He currently is a member of the Tactical Response Unit and the honor guard. Upon his promotion, he was assigned as the sergeant of the traffic bureau and the Community Policing Team, and he will serve as an Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, or ALICE, trainer, which deals with active-shooter response.

“I am very proud of my accomplishment. The biggest challenge I faced was time management,” he said in an email.

“Throughout the program, our class was assigned multiple papers, exams and group projects. Sgt. McLean and I are both very involved in the department, and balancing work with school was a challenge that I will not miss. Some classes were more demanding than others, but Northwestern University provided some of the best instructors that I’ve ever had,” said Dowty.

He said he enjoyed the leadership topics the most.  

“Throughout the program, we did multiple assessments to identify our strengths and personality traits. Based on these identified traits, we were given the opportunity to develop our own leadership strategy that will exploit our strengths and in turn better lead our officers. The program offered the most current and best leadership and management practices, with emphasis on techniques to lead different generations. It also encouraged a lot of class participation from our own experiences. Being able to interact with leaders from our neighboring jurisdictions was a great benefit,” he said.

Dowty said the program offered a wide range of courses, including applied statistics, finance, employee relations, leadership and contemporary policing.

“I think this program guides you to think on a more global level, which will overall help with fulfilling our organization’s mission and vision,” said Dowty.

“This profession is constantly reacting to the evolving trends in society. It would be much harder if our department had to reinvent the wheel when implementing change. The networking aspect of the program is one of the best parts. Moving forward, I have 43 classmates, now friends, that I can share ideas with,” he said.

McLean was hired by the department in 1996 and is a third-generation police officer. He was a field training officer for 19 years and a use-of-force instructor for 17 years. He now serves as the commander in charge of training, the firearms program, and is an ALICE trainer. He is also a member of the Tactical Response Unit, serving as the team leader.

“I do think of this as an accomplishment. I was nervous at first because I wanted to complete this successfully and it appeared to be difficult,” he said in an email.

“The hardest part for me was to stay focused on the school along with not letting my other job responsibilities fall behind. Initially it was stressful, but as the weeks progressed, the work seemed to level out. Northwestern School of Staff and Command is a great opportunity for supervisors in my department, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend,” said McLean.

He said being able to see different points and opinions from the instructors and the other 43 students was beneficial.

“There are some skills that I have learned in staff and command that I will use daily. There were other things that I will not. The high level of instruction given by Northwestern School of Staff and Command allows you to take in a lot of new ideas and shows you different ways to handle problems. These things will allow me to be better prepared as a supervisor in the Shelby Township Police Department,” McLean said.

Shelide said that he, Deputy Chief Mark Coil and Capt. Jason Schmittler, in addition to some commanders, also graduated from this program.

He praised McLean and Dowty for their work.

“Sgt. McLean and Sgt. Dowty are both outstanding and valued members of our organization,” he said.

“They both understand the importance of emulating excellence in leadership. Both of these sergeants are everything we expect in our frontline supervisors: professional, knowledgeable, prepared and driven to excel. Matthew McLean has an extremely sensitive position within our department as he is tasked with leading our training unit. I cannot stress enough how important this position is and Matt does an excellent job for us,” said Shelide.

He said that during his time as chief, he has made it a point to establish certain units, one of which Dowty is now in charge of.

“During the tenure of my administration as chief of police, I have made it a priority to establish a Community Services Unit. We are now up and running and functional. We have placed Brandon Dowty in charge of this unit because of his talents and unique skill set,” he said.

“I, we, expect great things from these men,” said Shelide.