Cooper capitalizes on strategic thinking in new post

The Center for Homeland Defense and Security provided Jesse Cooper with a crucial ingredient to furthering his career: strategic thinking.

The 2015 graduate was named Police Administrator with the Phoenix Police Department in October, a position that coordinates the agency’s communications system. He’s quick to cite his CHDS education as a solidifying factor in landing the new job.

Jesse Cooper

Jesse Cooper

“Over the past few years, I’ve really shifted my focus away from tactical thinking to more thinking strategically,” Cooper said during a phone interview. “I think that’s what provided me with the resources to get the promotion and be in this position.”

Cooper oversees about 300 staff in a division responsible for smooth operation of the 911 radio dispatch network, radio equipment and the department’s wireless network. Cooper also works on regional interoperability efforts for the city and 18 suburban agencies and supports the region’s fusion center communications.

“Critical infrastructure protection is important for us because that infrastructure supports the 911 system,” Cooper said. “That’s the public’s way of reaching emergency services. I spend a lot of time ensuring we have resilience and redundancy in the system. I spend a lot of my time working on policy-level decisions, on how on the strategic level we address crime, response and officer safety.”

That job becomes increasingly important as the city hosts an assortment of special events such as college football bowl games, the NBA  League All-Star game and, just last February, Super Bowl XLIX.

A CHDS education was helpful as, like the job, it necessitates working with partners from varied disciplines and all levels of government and the military. That was proved during the planning stages of last year’s Super Bowl. Fellow CHDS cohort member Jeffery Murray, a DHS Protective Security Advisor (PSA) in Albuquerque, provided insight and feedback to Cooper during that time.

“Just understanding what he does and what DHS has assigned to the region was helpful,” Cooper recalled. “I had a relationship with our local DHS PSA but didn’t really know what their job or capabilities were. He came out here from New Mexico for a week helping out. It was phenomenal to study with someone and then work with them professionally. I know more about what tools they had available and what their skills sets were.”

CHDS coursework has been helpful in unforeseen ways. The Psychology of Terrorism course provided insight into how communications can be received by the public and exposed him to concepts with which he was previously unfamiliar. He has used lessons from the Comparative Government class to look at policies from the rest of the world as he works in a regional capacity.

“Those were two courses that when I first saw them, I wasn’t sure about the applicability, but I got more applicability out of those classes than I ever expected” Cooper said. “I really understand certain things I would have never through about had I not been in the program.”

The thesis process, while grueling, has provided one of the most visible benefits, he said, especially when called upon for written reports, he added. His thesis, “Building a Collaborative Governance System: A Comparative Case Analysis,” examines the governance of establishing a multi-jurisdictional communication system that could potentially be applied to other cross-jurisdictional structures.

However, the composition of his cohort has been the lasting impact.

“I really learned from my cohort as much as from the formal instruction,” Cooper said. “For me it was informative in understanding the roles of all the various professions in my cohort.”

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