Interview with Luther Reynolds, REDP Alumnus

Luther Reynolds

Chief of Police, Charleston, South Carolina

Please share what led you to public service? 
I always had a desire to work in the community and help others, and I have been blessed and helped by others. I quickly learned in college that I wanted to be out in the community helping people and making a difference, which led me to public service. 

Why did you choose the Regional Executive Development at The George Washington University, Center for Excellence in Public Leadership (GW-CEPL)?
Montgomery County had a good footprint in the program and alumni spoke well of it.  I had a good resume and a master’s degree, but I needed to strengthen my connectivity to the Metropolitan Council of Government (MCOG), the National Capital Region, and not just in the police community.  I needed to strengthen ties and be able to work across jurisdictions.

Did this program challenge you? What tools did the program provide you with? 
As an executive, it challenged me to “sharpen the saw.” For example, I learned how to improve interpersonal communication skills and how to be a more informed decision maker with a global approach.  I benefitted from all the perspectives throughout the duration of the program.  The rich discussions and instruction from practical, real-world leaders, excellent instructors, such as Dr. Natalie Houghtby-Haddon, and case studies about issues right here in our region were valuable in helping me with long-term planning, funding, and emerging issues.  The program far exceeded my expectations. 

Is there an example of a specific leadership challenge where the REDP benefited? 
I connected with another graduate from one of the REDP cohorts.  He was working in the special operations fire department.  Through REDP, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and MCOG, we went to Israel to learn about terrorism and public safety scenarios.  We brought back ideas and lessons learned and shared with other employees, which is a large part of what REDP and MCOG are about— to be engaged and to be part of the solutions.  The lessons brought back have influenced outcomes.  The ideas have been implemented in the field. 

Has your attendance in our REDP benefited your agency? 
REDP made me a more effective leader.  I learned more about employee development and succession planning.  There are other people who are now more involved in MCOG and are now thinking more about the regional approach. We exchange ideas and solutions by building relationships across jurisdictions and learning how we can work better together.

How have you used the REDP to progress in your career?   
Everything that I’ve done has been beneficial to achieving my current position, Assistant Chief of Police in Montgomery County. The REDP trainings have made me a better decision maker, and more confident to pick up the phone to call the right people.  REDP provided the comfort level to build the networks and relationships, and I am now on various committees and engage them in various topics. 

How do you foresee implementing the lessons learned in your new role? 
The biggest challenge going into this new job, Chief of Police in Charleston, SC,  will be developing relationships.  I’ve been in the Montgomery County for 30 years.  REDP has given me the knowledge of how we are interdependent.  Charleston has a network of resources. Even though I don’t have everything set up from the start, I know that I can reach out to anyone.  Charleston has great people and a strong value for policing and public safety.  I have a strong confidence level in the interconnected for our resources, partnerships, and collaboration to navigate systems.  I can look at the complex systems that I’m walking into and have the confidence to lead and navigate effectively. 

Would you recommend others to attendWhat would you suggest to them for their success?
I recommend others attend.  It’s a great program with a strong return of investment.  What you put in, you will get out.  I encourage conversations and dialogue with the faculty and participants.  Do not be intimidated, and sign up sooner than later.  I attended the program when I still had a lot of time left in my career, and it’s been close to 10 years since. It was a good value for my time and commitment.