National Police Week Spotlight – Chief of Police Sekou Millington Dedicated to Protect and Serve
As Chief of Police in the city of Tracy, California, Sekou Millington lives by the motto, “Fairness, Integrity, Respect, Service, and Teamwork.”
The 21-year law-enforcement veteran is an innovative leader and proud of his profession. He exudes confidence and enthusiasm about police and community relations. Chief Millington believes that the pillars of 21st Century Policing are the fundamental building blocks of a contemporary policing agency today. He trains his department in the Six Pillars:
- Building Trust and Legitimacy
- Policy and Oversight
- Technology and Social Media
- Community Policing and Crime Reduction
- Training and Education
- Officer Safety and Wellness
Chief Millington welcomes open dialogue and encourages the public to be part of the change they want to see in police and community relations.
“Be part of the solution. Serve on police advisory boards to craft policies and procedures, participate in a ride-along, attend your local community police academy and discover career opportunities in criminal justice. “Be a part of the change you want to see.”
Chief Millington believes that open dialogue and communication are the keys that lead to trust between police officers and the communities they serve. Below is an interview with Chief Millington about his career and the law enforcement profession.
Why did you choose a career in law enforcement?
“I was going to college with the intent of pursuing a career in engineering or some related field while working part-time as a Loss Prevention Agent where I would encounter a police officer from time to time. One of the officers I regularly submitted citizen arrest reports to said I should apply with the police departments. I looked into the profession and found the philosophy of service matched with my upbringing and belief system. I found my passion, you might even say my heart, in law enforcement.”
Did you always want to be a Chief of Police? If so, why?
“I definitely did not begin my career in law enforcement envisioning myself as the Chief of Police. I was committed to being a student of my craft and becoming the best police officer I could be. Things changed as I ascended the ranks and learned from my mentors what it meant to be a true leader. As I rose through the ranks of leadership, I was encouraged by the same mentors to achieve my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Having worked a variety of challenging assignments with the Oakland Police Department, my knowledge, experience, and abilities sharpened and I knew then I was ready to assume the role of Chief when the opportunity presented itself. The final piece of the puzzle was to ensure that my family was ready for such a drastic transition in my career. I discussed it with my wife, who fully supported me throughout all of the achievements in my career. She has always been my greatest supporter and for that I’m thankful. After knowing she was supportive of me, I knew I was ready to be a Chief of Police.”
How did COVID affect your department?
“We had to adjust our approach to policing and adapt quickly to a pandemic of epic proportion. As law enforcement professionals we train to respond to most natural disasters like earthquakes, fires, floods, etc. This was a unique challenge, one that is driven by a rapidly spreading illness with no immediate cure. We had to think outside the box, modify our schedules and be extremely careful in our approach as we continued to serve our communities 24/7. I needed to ensure that our officers and professional staff were as safe as they could be while interacting with the public and one another. Managing our stored supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) was yet another challenge we had to overcome. Technology played a major role in being able to communicate effectively internally as well as externally with the public. We learned to utilize a variety of virtual meeting platforms in addition to increasing our social media footprint. We screened calls for potentially COVID positive cases and increased our online/phone reporting process. My department was fortunate to have an ample supply of PPE on hand so that we could effectively get the job done and be available to our community. In dealing with any crisis, flexibility and adaptability are key.”
How important is a higher education degree in moving up the ranks in law enforcement?
“Education is extremely important as you pursue a career in law enforcement. Research has shown that among other things, a college education improves ethical decision-making skills, knowledge and understanding of the law and the courts, openness to diversity, and communication skills. An advanced degree shows that you have the ability to improve yourself and the willingness to put in the work to be the best you can be. Law enforcement is an ever-changing profession and we must be creative, innovative, and forward thinkers. Achieving your degree is an investment in YOU, it’s an accomplishment that no one can ever take from you.”
Why did you choose Union for your bachelor’s and master’s?
“One of my mentors told me I was the future of our organization and it would be beneficial for me to go back to school and complete my degree. He had graduated from Union and encouraged me to try Union. He put me in contact with Sandra Lee, Recruiter/Western Region Welcome Center, CJM & ESM, who I am honored to say is a dear friend of mine. She assured me the Criminal Justice Management degree was the right program for me. I was working full-time and Union is flexible in its scheduling. The program is designed to help officers move up the ranks into supervisory, management, and executive positions. I especially liked that classes were developed and taught by law enforcement professionals. I would not be where I am today without my Union degrees.”
The police are under national scrutiny as never before, what do you want the public to know about using force in arrests?
“I would offer that force should only be used when appropriate and no more than is necessary to affect an arrest, overcome resistance or prevent escape. Our community expects that we not only protect them but act appropriately at all times and operate within the parameters of the law. Our officers receive training now more than ever before on use of force and de-escalation. I think what people want is not only to have safe neighborhoods absence of crime and the fear of crime but they also want to see the presence of justice.”
How can the nation move forward with trust in the police especially in neighborhoods of color?
“The issue of trust or lack thereof in neighborhoods of color is a complex matter. There is a misunderstanding of the history of policing in America on both sides of the spectrum. As law enforcement have to be willing to listen, to understand that trust has been broken, and be willing to connect to fix the fractured relationships. A necessary component for us to continue moving forward in regaining that trust is embracing the tenants of Procedural Justice which begin with giving individuals a voice, being neutral and transparent in our decision making, treating all people with dignity and respect, and conveying trustworthy motives. If we can implement these tenants nationally, we’d see improved relationships between communities of color and the police officers who serve in those communities.”
If you could tell the public one thing about the police that they don’t understand, what would you say?
“Police officers are human beings too. We have families and we’ve joined this noble profession to serve and to help others. We all want to go home safe at night and be safe while in the field protecting our communities. We’re a part of every community we serve and I think that’s sometimes forgotten. We’re here to not only protect and serve but to defend the constitutional rights of all people in this great country.”
Chief Millington earned both a B.S. and a master’s degree from Union. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management in 2009 and his Master of Organizational Leadership in 2015. He also earned a certificate of achievement in criminal justice education from the University of Virginia while attending the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy. He is a two-term chapter president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Discover the many career opportunities with a Union Institute & University Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management and a Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership.