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Leadership with an Enduring Impact: The Legacy of Chief Burtell Jefferson of the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C.

Authors


Brian N. Williams is an assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia. His research explores race, policing, and the coproduction of public safety and public order. He is the author of Citizen Perspectives on Community Policing: A Case Study in Athens, Georgia (State University of New York Press, 1998). His research has appeared in Public Administration Review, Teachers College Record, Police Quarterly, and other academic journals.
E-mail:bnwillia@uga.edu.

J. Edward Kellough is a professor and director of graduate programs in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Georgia. His most recent books include Understanding Affirmative Action (Georgetown University Press, 2007), The New Public Personnel Administration (Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007), with Lloyd G. Nigro and Felix Nigro; and Civil Service Reform in the States (State University of New York Press, 2006), edited with Lloyd G. Nigro. His research has appeared in numerous academic journals.
E-mail: kellough@uga.edu.

Abstract

On January 13, 1978, after nearly 30 years of public service, Burtell Jefferson became the first African American to serve as chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C. This profile describes his personal and professional journey and describes—from the perspective of a cadre of active and retired police chiefs and chief executive officers—the impact of Jefferson’s career on the Metropolitan Police Department and policing in America more broadly. Jefferson’s story, an exemplary illustration of public sector leadership, has profound implications for contemporary efforts to ensure the equality of employment opportunity. Jefferson’s career provides a model of effective leadership that is applicable across organizations and sectors. He not only led his organization well but also encouraged and developed generations of future leaders.

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