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Growing Leadership with an Online Public Service Degree

First Responders

The Changing Needs of Public Service Leaders and How a College Degree Can Help

From the opioid epidemic to cybercrime and mass shootings, these high profile national public safety threats are changing how our public service leaders approach emergency preparedness situations. Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services units are challenged to manage increasingly complex incidents in a world that’s highly connected and always looking for answers. Responsibilities that wouldn’t have been anticipated five or ten years ago have become essential components of public service positions.

Together, these forces are having a significant impact on the role of public service leaders while unveiling qualities that are essential for thriving in this environment.

Expanded Roles: How is Public Service Changing?

We sat down with two public service leaders to gain their perspectives on the changing landscape of their field. Mike Allen earned his bachelor's in public service management and master's in project management at Granite State College. He's the former Chief of Police in Rochester, NH, and current Director of Security at Frisbie Memorial Hospital. Brenden Burns is a District Chief for the fire department in Manchester, NH, and he earned his bachelor's in applied studies - management and master's in leadership at Granite State College.


Emergency response plans once focused on incidents such as fires or chemical spills. Today, these plans take an “all-hazards” approach which considers natural, chemical, biological, explosive, traumatic, and radiological-related events concurrently. In response, new training was developed to help police, fire, E.M.T.s, municipalities, hospitals, and other stakeholders work together to plan and maximize resources should such a severe or tragic event confront the community.

Social Media

"Social media has changed the fire service and public safety. Today when we go to an incident, there are often groups of people taking videos on their phones. There’s just a much higher level of public accountability,” shared Brendan '15, M.S. '17.

Public service leaders are leveraging this technology into something useful for communication with the general public. Mike Allen '11, M.S. '12, implemented social media communications into the department as a result of his graduate capstone project.

“Social media is a huge resource for the department to build trust in the community and solve crimes,” shared Allen.


In New Hampshire, a key component of the Governor’s 2016 Comprehensive Response to the opiate/opioid crisis involves public safety. Creative solutions, such as Safe Stations in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, and other communities, serve as safe environments for individuals seeking assistance and looking for treatment to start their path to recovery. Nationally, law enforcement is changing their response to drug overdoses and now prioritizes addressing the addiction instead of the drug offense.


“About 80% of our operations involve administering Emergency Medical Services (E.M.S.). When I was hired in 1994, I was asked if I would become an Emergency Medical Technician (E.M.T.). Now, we look to hire firefighters that are paramedics, which carry an even more advanced knowledge base of E.M.S. practices. We need to be skilled and trained in both aspects,” said Burns.

The Case for Leadership

In order to effectively tackle emerging challenges in public service, departments will need tactical expertise and strong leadership. Earning a bachelor’s degree can help you demonstrate leadership and gain skills in the administrative side of management-level positions. This will help you stand out as a highly qualified candidate when you’re ready to pursue your next big promotion, which leads to increased responsibilities and earning potential.

 Advance Your Public Service Career Request Information Today!