Ronald Lowenberg, who heads a $4.2-million Cypress-based operation with nearly 80 full-time employees, found himself taking a two-day management training course last July on "Leadership and Styles."
That may not seem unusual until you consider that the course was sponsored by General Telephone of California for its own personnel, a description that Lowenberg doesn't fit. In fact, Lowenberg isn't even a businessman--he is Cypress' chief of police.
"I think they found it intriguing, and I certainly found it that way," Lowenberg said.
More and more, gray-flannel executives are mixing with men (and women) in blue as part of a fledgling management training project to give public sector law enforcement personnel a chance to learn private sector management techniques.
The program brings together the State Assns. of Chiefs of Police and a variety of Fortune 500 companies, "from AT&T to Xerox," said Michael Shanahan, chief of the University of Washington Police Department and chairman of the SACOP committee that developed the project.
A corporation provides a seat in its classroom for the police officer, identified as "upwardly mobile," and may pay expenses, Shanahan said. Or, the officer's department might pick up the tab, he said.
"You see a lot of stuff about 'Support Your Local Police,' " Shanahan said. "This is an extension of corporate citizenship.
"You can see where a corporation can help a hospital or get involved in community organizations," he said. "It's very difficult for a corporation to help a police department (and yet) law enforcement is one of the fundamental services that government gives citizens 24 hours a day."
Relationships built during the training courses, which might run for as long as a week, are of long-term benefit to both the police department and the corporation, Shanahan said. "The business community has got some built-in reservations about reporting corporate victimization," and trust developed during training sessions could help solve some corporate security problems, he said.
"We think it's a good program," said Tom Leweck, General Telephone's public affairs director, adding that a "cross-pollination of ideas" occurs during the training sessions. "We have always thought we had an obligation to the community that far exceeds providing telephone service," he said.
The project has taken particularly strong root in California, where the California Police Chiefs Assn. has pushed the program, said Lowenberg, who is coordinating the state association's efforts.
Seven California officers have taken training courses since mid-1985, when the program began. That is about half of those participating nationwide.
"It's still in its infancy, but we felt that the important thing was to enjoy some small initial success," Shanahan said. SACOP intends to expand the program, he said.
Among the corporations providing training are General Telephone, AT&T, Burroughs, Chevron, Xerox, Citibank, Hartford Insurance Group and Monsanto, Shanahan said.