About the Southern Police Institute

Historical Development

The original idea for the establishment of the Southern Police Institute did not germinate in the mind of a police administrator or a practicing lawyer or a learned jurist. A Swedish economist developed the concept that such an institute would be both practical and beneficial. Gunnar Myrdal in his 1944 book, An American Dilemma (New York: Harper), planted a seed when he wrote:

"It is my conviction that one of the most potent strategic measures to improve the Southern interracial situation would be the opening of a pioneering modern police college in the south, which would give a thorough social and pedagogical training as well as a technical police training."

The late Joseph D. Lohman, formerly Chairman, Illinois Division of Correction; Sheriff, Cook County, Illinois; and Dean, School of Criminology, University of California, first suggested organizing the Southern Police Institute to the late Dean David A. McCandless during 1949. Mr. McCandless, who at the time was director of Public Safety with the City of Louisville, carried the idea through with a series of discussions with university and city officials until the proposal finally began to take root.

A short time later a committee was appointed to develop the plans for the institute. The committee, chaired by Howell V. Williams, then Dean, Kent School of Social Work, consisted of the following members: Donald Kemper, then assistant professor, School of Law; William G. Kiefer, then Superintendent, Personnel and Education Bureau, Louisville Police Division; with Mr. McCandless ex officio. The committee recommended the annual presentation of three twelve-week courses for 25 student-officers. The courses were designed primarily for an audience of commanding, supervising, and administrative police officers from southern and bordering states and commonwealths.

The critical ingredient in establishing the Southern Police Institute was attracting the students by publicizing the program. The first recruiting effort for the institute was launched by Colonel Carl E. Heustis, the chief of the Louisville Police Division, and Mr. McCandless. They visited prominent city and police officials in Charleston, Richmond, Raleigh, Columbia, Birmingham, New Orleans, Jackson, Memphis, and Nashville to acquaint these administrators with the institutes program.

After funding for the operation of the institute was assured by foundation grants and student-officers were recruited, people were needed to put the institute plan into operation. A screening committee selected Mr. McCandless as director of the institute. Mr. McCandless appointed Mrs. Dorothy P. Clore, who had worked for the University of Louisville since 1928, as secretary. After a nationwide search, Mr. Rolland L. Soule, a former police sergeant in Wichita, Kansas, was chosen as the first full-time instructor in the institute.

The SPI of the 1980s and 1990s

Professor Norman E. Pomrenke was appointed director of the Southern police Institute during 1977. Professor John Klotter remained as dean of the renamed School of Justice Administration. During 1981, after serving ten years, Professor Klotter resigned from the dean's position to devote more time to his teaching and writing. A national search was conducted to fill the position. Dr. J. Price Foster was selected to become dean of the School of Justice Administration during 1981. During 1983, the College of Urban and Public Affairs was established in the university and the School of Justice Administration became part of the new college. The new college was charged with the primary responsibility for the urban mission of the university. Dr. Foster became dean of the college.

As a result of Dr. Foster becoming dean of the new college, a national search was conducted for a director of the School of Justice Administration, the parent component of both the Southern Police Institute and National Crime Prevention Institute. The search culminated during 1986 with the appointment of Dr. William Pelfrey, a renowned academician and administrator. Dr. Pelfrey brought to the School of Justice Administration and the Southern Police Institute the talent to demonstrate that effective practice emerges from the application of established theory and that sound managerial skills must be coupled with the integrity of enduring academic standards.

Professor Pomrenke retired during 1987, and Dr. James Ginger was selected as director of the Southern Police Institute in 1988. Dr. Pelfrey accepted the position as Head of the Department of Criminal Justice at Western Carolina University during 1990. The faculty then selected one of their colleagues, Dr. Deborah G. Wilson, as Chair of the Department of Justice Administration. When Dr. Ginger returned to the Police Foundation during 1990, Dr. Forrest Moss became director of the institute until 1991, when Professor B. Edward Campbell was appointed acting director. During 1991, a recommendation was made to abolish the College of Urban and Public Affairs and to move the School of Justice Administration along with the Southern Police Institute and the National Crime Prevention Institute administratively to the College of Arts and Sciences. The school then became a department in the college. During July 1993, Dr. William F. Walsh, a graduate of John Jay College and Fordham University, became director of the Southern Police Institute. Dr. Walsh had retired from the New York City Police Department before joining the faculty of the Pennsylvania State University. He brought to the position of director the valuable combination of extensive police experience and recognized academic scholarship.

The SPI Alumni Association

One of the most significant assets of the Southern Police Institute is the Southern Police Institute Alumni Association. Created during 1951 by graduates, the association has grown into one of the most active alumni groups at the University of Louisville. 

Article courtesy of the University of Louisville web site.

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