Ashland's police officers are wrapping up their third week of intensive leadership training provided by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

"This is the first time we've ever done anything this intensive in terms of three weeks of leadership training," Police Chief Terry Holderness said.

Ashland is the first agency to conduct this training in Oregon, Holderness said. He had the chance to attend similar training sessions as police captain in Fontana, Calif., and he made it his goal to bring the seminar to Ashland upon accepting the chief position.

"It's the best leadership training I've ever attended," he said.

Previous options for leadership training included a week-long sergeant school hosted by the state and assorted three-day trainings. For the three-week session, both supervisors and senior officers attended to help shore up the accountability of the department.

"Leadership isn't just about positional leadership," Holderness said. "It's about informal leaders within the organization."

Robert White, the lead facilitator for the program from Flagstaff, Ariz., said he teaches people how to create environments where employees motivate themselves, which helps prevent cynicism and bitterness and leads to a better police force overall.

"Most people don't leave their organizations when they quit," he said. "They leave their leaders."

Police from around the Valley also joined in the training, including the chief from Central Point, several Medford and Phoenix officers and students from SOU's criminology programs. Those invitations recouped $18,000 of the $30,000 budgeted for the training.

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