Certified Public-Safety Executive Program

Discover the Leader in You

APCO’s Certified Public-Safety Executive (CPE) Program is designed to:

  • Elevate professionalism
  • Enhance individual performance, and
  • Recognize excellence in the public safety communications industry

Participants may be managers, supervisors, agency executives or others whose work and life experiences have motivated them to learn the necessary skills to successfully lead organizations within the complex and ever-changing environment in which public safety agencies operate.

Drawing on resources from renowned leadership professionals and distinguished academic sources, the program allows participants to explore topics that include:

  • Management versus leadership
  • Models/theories of leadership
  • Leadership styles
  • Public safety leadership issues, and
  • Executing and managing change

Program instructors include master’s and doctoral level professionals in the field of organizational development and leadership who bring a wealth of academic and practical experience to the program.

Program Structure & Course Content

The program consists of two 12-week online courses and one 10-day capstone course at APCO headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The first of the online courses begins with an introduction to leadership concepts, leadership issues, models of leadership and leadership in the 21st century.

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CPE 101: Introduction to Executive Leadership | Online

This course focuses on foundational issues in the field of executive leadership, including: management versus leadership; models, theories and styles of leadership; issues specific to public-safety communications leadership; and ethical leadership in the 21st century. The course includes resources and selected readings from renowned professionals and distinguished academic sources that illustrate the core concepts of the course.

Course Topics

  • Management Versus Leadership
  • Model/Theories of Leadership
  • Public Safety Leadership Issues
  • Situational Leadership: Employee
  • Situational Leadership: Leader
  • Adaptive Leadership: The Self
  • Adaptive Leadership: The Organization
  • Leadership Styles
  • Ethical Leadership in the 21st Century

Duration: 12 weeks, online*. Students should expect to spend 3-4 hours each week on coursework.
This course is delivered via APCO’s remote learning platform, accessible 24/7/365.

The second course explores how leaders provide vision, manage change and ensure accountability.

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CPE 202: Defining Leaders | Online*

This course explores the various attributes, skill sets and attitudes that define successful leaders. Topics include the ways leaders define themselves, relate to others, understand their organizations, provide vision and initiate and manage change. The course includes resources from renowned professionals in the leadership field and distinguished academic institutions. Individual and group assignments and exercises during the course help cultivate an awareness among students of their own personal leadership style, strengths and challenges.

Course Topics

  • How Leaders Define Themselves
  • Leadership: Relating to Others
  • Understanding Your Organization
  • Providing Vision
  • How Leaders Take Responsibility
  • Identifying Problems and Recognizing Opportunities For Change
  • Leadership: Formulating Courses of Action
  • Executing Change
  • Managing Ongoing Change
  • Leaders in Action
  • Leadership for the 21st Century

Duration: 12 weeks, online. Students should expect to spend 3 to 4 hours each week on coursework.
This course is delivered via APCO’s remote learning platform, accessible 24/7/365.

The program culminates with the capstone course, during which participants draw on what they’ve learned during the program to tackle challenging case studies.

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CPE 303: Executive Leadership in Action | APCO Headquarters, Daytona Beach, FL

The culmination of the CPE program takes place at APCO headquarters in Daytona Beach, FL.  During this final course, participants put all the key points of the coursework together in a high-paced seminar featuring case studies of leadership in the public sector and insights from distinguished guest speakers with years of experience in the public-safety communications industry.

Duration: Ten days, onsite at APCO Headquarters, Daytona Beach, Florida.

*See requirements for online courses.

Graduates of the program earn the professional designation of Certified Public-Safety Executive (CPE) and are recognized at APCO’s Annual Conference & Expo in August of each year.



There are two pathways to meet eligibility for APCO’s CPE Program:

  • Current certification as an APCO Registered Public-Safety Leader (RPL) plus 6 years of experience at the supervisor, manager, or director level in public safety communications.
  • Graduation from a post-secondary degree program with at least an AA degree, or higher.

Admission to the CPE Program is highly competitive, and space in the program is limited. Due to the rigor of the curriculum, preference will be given to individuals who have at least a bachelor’s degree and significant experience in public safety communications or related occupations. Not all who apply will be admitted.

The CPE admissions committee will evaluate each application using metrics related to the:

  • Applicant’s level of education
  • Applicant’s length and types of experience in the public-safety communications industry
  • Quality of the CPE application (should be well-written in complete sentences and free from grammatical and typographical errors)
  • Quality of the applicants’ responses to questions regarding:
    • Personal and professional challenges faced
    • How they have overcome those challenges
    • The current state of public safety communications
    • What challenges they believe are facing the industry
    • How participating in the CPE Program will help them address these industry challenges

NOTE: No more than two applicants from a single agency will be admitted to a CPE class at any one time.

The Commitment

The CPE program is a rigorous, demanding endeavor that requires serious commitment by each participant. Students should be prepared to devote a considerable amount of time to coursework, including individual and group assignments and discussions. The program is fast-paced and reading-intensive, and demands that students keep pace with the workload and participate fully in both the online and capstone courses.

A lack of commitment will not only negatively impact the success of the individual student but of the entire class. For these reasons, applicants are encouraged to carefully consider their commitment to the program before applying.

Tuition & Application

Cost for the CPE Program is $3,500 per person and includes all course materials and distance learning fees. The cost does not include travel and accommodations for the two-week capstone course at APCO headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida.

A fee of $250 must be paid at the time of application.

Program participants may apply for tuition assistance through APCO’s scholarship program, which is open for applications from January through March each year. Scholarship funds may be used for tuition only and may not be used for expenses related to travel, food or lodging.

Application Process

The application process is designed to identify individuals whose professional goals align closely with the goals of the CPE Program. APCO is committed to selecting only those applicants who are fully committed to the successful completion of the program.

As part of the process, applicants are asked to reflect on personal and professional experiences that have influenced their careers and to articulate their interests, career goals, as well as obstacles and solutions to those goals. For this reason, applications must be submitted by the individual interested in attending the program.

An application fee of $250 must accompany the completed application form and associated documents. The fee will be deducted from tuition for successful applicants. Those not accepted to the program will receive a full refund.

Applications for the program are accepted year-round.

No one should submit an application until the applicant can positively affirm that:

  • His/her agency head has approved the applicant’s attendance
  • Full funding has been approved, and that payment of the tuition balance will follow within 45 days after the applicant’s acceptance.

CPE Graduates

Graduates of the Certified Public-Safety Executive Program

The following individuals have graduated from APCO’s Certified Public-Safety Executive Program.

Martina Alexander
Alexandria, VA
Melissa Alterio
Marietta, GA
Jeryl Anderson
Durham, NC
Meghan Architect
Alexandria, VA
Lysa Baker
Yukon, OK
Michael Banks
Akron, OH
Heather Barker
Winter Park, FL
Matthew Barstow
Framingham, MA
Peter Beckwith
Tacoma, WA
Douglas Bentley
Tucker, GA
Melanie Bergers
Topeka, KS
John Blalock
Rome, GA
Sheila Blevins
Catalina, AZ
Angela Bowen
Forsyth, GA
Rhonda Braudis
Marshalltown, IA
Julie Buck
Goldendale, WA
Tina Buneta
Aurora, CO
Kimberly Burdick
Fort Benton, MT
Douglas Campbell
Alexandria, VA
Mark Cannon
Daytona Beach, FL
Jessica Carter
Lawton, OK
Dorothy Cave
Daytona Beach, FL
Chris Chandler
Newark, DE
Michelle Clark
Gainesville, FL
Kim Codey
Fremont, CA
Jeff Cohen
Alexandria, VA
Stephanie Conner
Raleigh, NC
Gina Cortez
Homewood, IL
Sharon Crook
Sara Crosswhite
Bend, OR
Domonique Curry
New Orleans, LA
William Dameron
Denver, CO
D. Jeremy DeMar
New Providence, NJ
Gregory DeWolf
Jenna DiPlacido
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Daniel Donaldson
Portland, OR
Hope Downs
Wilmington, NC
Christina Dravis
Freeville, NY
William Duggan
Canon City, CO
Daniel Dunlap
Augusta, GA
Natalia Duran
Miami, FL
Jay English
Daytona Beach, FL
Joel Estes
Commerce City, CO
Charlene Fisk
Attleboro, MA
Charlynn Flaherty
Bowie, MD
Christopher Freeman
Benton, KY
Matthew Fuller
Denver, CO
Tiffany Fuller
Alexandria, VA
Doreen Geary
Daytona Beach, FL
Patricia Giannini Henry
Daytona Beach, FL
Tangela Gibson
Jonathan Goldman
Laconia, NH
Renee Gordon
Alexandria, VA
Kelle Hall
Dallas, TX
Shinar Haynes
Fort worth, TX
Jeremy Hill
Amarillo, TX
Sheri Hokamp
Biloxi, MS
Juana Holmes-Green
New Orleans, LA
Roberta Ivory
Arlington, TN
Jonathan Jones
Atlanta, GA
Jason Kern
Crystal Lake, IL
Joell Kight
Warrenton, VA
Jennifer Kirkland
Grand Junction, CO
Kevin Kleck
Fort Worth, TX
Cheryl Konarski
Joplin, MO
Farokh Latif
Daytona Beach, FL
Ryan Lawson
Vancouver, BC
Steve Leese
Daytona Beach, FL
Chris Lienhardt
Northbrook, IL
Jessica Lynch
Hutchinson, KS
Esmond Marvray
Alexandria, VA
Stephen Mawdsley
Portland, OR
Amy McCormick
Spokane, WA
Robbie McCormick
Tyrell Morris
New Orleans, LA
Margie Moulin
Central Point, OR
Christopher Mueller
Springfield, IL
Stephanie Noel
Hopkinsville, KY
Dominick Nutter
Raleigh, NC
Shantelle Oliver
Fort Worth, TX
Christina Ortiz
Orlando, FL
Russ Palmer
Savannah, GA
Eric Parker
Alexandria, VA
Ann Marie Piddisi
Woodbridge, VA
Diane Pinckney
Savannah, GA
Johnny Platt
Olathe, KS
Derek Poarch
Alexandria, VA
Kathryn Pompeo
Renton, WA
Christine Ponce
Arlington, VA
Ralene Poncelow
Greeley, CO
Tina Powell
Greeley, CO
Julie Ray
Orlando, FL
Mark Reddish
Alexandria, VA
Jennifer Reese
Beaverton, OR
Marietta Robinson
Alexandria, VA
Deborah Sands
Lynn Smith
Cornelia, GA
Mark Spross
Woodburn, OR
Susan Stowell Corder
Daytona Beach, FL
Anthony Stua
Valparaiso, IN
Mark Swiderski
Crown Point, IN
Ashlee Swilling
High Point, NC
billy test
Maitland, FL
Robin Tieman
Harrisonville, MO
Patricia Turner
Leesburg, VA
Lora Ueland
Kent, WA
Steve Usher
Lori VanGilder Preuss
Debary, FL
Charles Vitale
Rochester, NY
Nicole Webster
Washington, DC
Susan Webster
Hartford, CT
Tenesia Wells
Alexandria, VA
Anessa Westmoreland
Covington, GA
Maureen Will
Newtown, CT
Lisa Williams
Alexandria, VA
Erika Wilson
Albuquerque, NM
Christopher Wittmer
Robert Woodhull
Florence, AZ

CPE Program FAQs

How is the CPE Program different than the Registered Public-Safety Leader (RPL) Program? How many applicants will be accepted?

Enrollment for the CPE Program is capped at 20.

The RPL Program focuses on the skills needed to manage people and small teams. The CPE Program is focused on the skills and attributes necessary to lead organizations. For further clarification, see this comparison of curriculum topics between the two programs.

Additionally, RPL graduates must be recertified every four years. There are no recertification requirements for graduates of the CPE program.

Is there an application fee?

Yes, there is a $250 application fee. The fee will be deducted from tuition for successful applicants. Those not accepted to the program will receive a full refund.

Are there costs for textbooks or other course materials?

Tuition for the CPE Program is $3500/person, which includes all course materials. The only additional expenses for the program are for travel, food and lodging for the capstone course, CPE 303.

What about travel, lodging and food for the capstone course?

APCO International reserves blocks of rooms at select hotels at negotiated reduced rates, typically ranging from $96 to $115 (plus tax). We book at locations within five minute’s drive to our headquarters. Information on the block reservation goes out three months before the capstone seminar and rooms are held up to roughly three weeks prior to the seminar. The recommended per diem for meals and incidental is $60/day. Roundtrip airfare is estimated at $500/person.

Several airports serve the greater Daytona area:

What is the total estimated cost for the program, all inclusive?
Tuition $3,500
Airfare (estimated, round trip) $500
Lodging $1,200 – $1,400
(includes tax)
11 nights; rates vary seasonally
Food $333 11 days @ $30/day
Incidentals $333 11 days @ $30/day
Total (estimated) $5,793
If I apply and am not accepted, can I apply again in the future?

Yes. Unsuccessful applicants who meet the admission criteria may apply in the future.

Is there a waiting list for the program?

Yes. Wait-listed students will be considered first for the next iteration of the program.