Alumni Spotlights
Executive Master of Public Administration Alum
July 21, 2020 |

Alum Tackles Social Problems With Public Policy

Kerry Jackson, EMPA 2012, believes organizations are only as good as their policies. He uses the skills he gained at GGU to help public agencies be more effective.

By Jenny McKeel

Kerry Jackson, EMPA 2012, was one of the first African-American hires at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department to rise to the rank of administrative captain. His responsibilities included overseeing administrative contracts and leading the Motorcycle Unit at the Oakland International Airport. Among his proud accomplishments is the excellence award the Sheriff’s Office received under his watch from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), a body that accredits agencies that follow best practices to promote effectiveness and efficiency.

Another proud accomplishment is earning his Executive Master of Public Administration from GGU.

Public Policy Training at GGU

“Graduating from GGU enabled me to have greater insight as to how policy really governs and guides organizations to be the best they can be,” reflected Kerry. “I think you are only as good as the policies you have in place.”

Today he’s head of security at AC Transit, an Oakland-based transit agency serving portions of Alameda and Contra-Costa counties, and an adjunct instructor in the EMPA’s Law Enforcement and Security concentration . On top of that, Kerry assesses other agencies that wish to become accredited with CALEA, a program he believes can make a meaningful policy impact on excessive use of force by police that have sparked nationwide protests. Kerry believes effective policy can help combat police brutality, along with hiring good leadership, executing disciplinary measures when needed, and rooting out implicit bias.

“CALEA includes 484 standards that were created by law enforcement practitioners throughout the nation and accredited agencies must comply with all of them,” explained Kerry. “There are standardized policies that say how you can apply force and there’s also an early warning standard that requires interventions for officers who have used force a certain number of times. These are just a few examples of policies that allow you to head issues off at the pass before something serious happens like in the George Floyd case.”

CALEA is an excellent management tool that allows executives to know what’s going on their agencies. Kerry’s seen, first-hand, poor-performing agencies gain accreditation and make great strides in terms of use-of-force cases and other issues.

“When you look at some of the things that’s happening right now,” said Kerry, “it’s just amazing that our country cannot get a grasp and embrace what’s happening and say we can do better.”

Policy Matters

Good policy-making is something Kerry learned at GGU.

“I gained a practical education and I’m able to apply it not only as a CALEA assessor and head of security but also when I was with the Sheriff’s Office, being administrative captain.”

At GGU, his capstone project focused on succession planning, the process of preparing for the transition when staff members leave an agency. Using what he learned, he implemented a program at the Sheriff’s Office that is still in place. When he started at AC Transit, Kerry found his GGU education was directly applicable to the policy review he conducted. He discovered that the parking policy was out of date, for example, and revised it so that employees could become eligible for the limited number of parking spaces.

Paying It Forward

That’s why Kerry refers others to GGU every chance he gets.

When he enrolled at GGU, Kerry spread the word to other colleagues and spoke at information sessions, which led to a whole cohort of students enrolling.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for folks to get together who had an interest in higher education and obtain a master’s degree,” explained Kerry. “We had folks from outside of the Sheriff’s Office join the cohort, folks from Alameda County Probation Department, Oakland Police Department, couple people from Kaiser Permanente. It kind of grew legs.”

Today, he regularly speaks at information sessions held at AC Transit.

“If someone asks me about getting their masters, I say, ‘Have you thought about Golden Gate?’ For working adults, it’s a great opportunity to get a higher education and work at the same time. It’s practical to what you are doing at the EMPA,” said Kerry.



Leave a Reply