“God knows.”

February 2, 2010, 4:55 pm

These two words written on a Post-it note affixed to Dr. Luann Pannell’s desk is a constant reminder of what really matters.

Pannell is the Director of Police Training and Education for the Los Angeles Police Department and one of the world’s premier police training experts. But it would be difficult to know the genius of this NNU alumna (1989) unless you look at her record.

Since joining the LAPD in 2000, Pannell has played different roles, including police psychologist (2000-2005) as well as a member of the SWAT Crisis Negotiation Team.  There is, however, no role she relishes as much as that of friend and supporter.

“I work with some phenomenal people who will never ever ask for credit,” says Pannell, who is much more likely to talk about the achievements of her colleagues than about her impressive resume. “I wish some of the people I work with could get a front-page article rather than the public only hearing about those that fail.  “It is their efforts that have led the department to decrease crime levels for the last seven consecutive years.”

Since becoming the director of police training and education, a job that requires her and her teammates to design and implement the training for every police officer), the LAPD has seen policemen take to the streets better prepared to serve the community in ways that go beyond the traditional role taken by police.

“It’s not just issuing traffic tickets,” says Pannell. Instead, officers must be able to stand in front of an elementary school or speak to the press, in addition to performing the everyday job of law enforcement personnel.

After coming to an understanding that police work was more than arresting criminals and that the community expects more from their police force, Pannell and her team completely redesigned the way officers are trained in Los Angeles. What used to be a very militaristic, sterile learning environment is now transformed into an atmosphere of interactive learning, due in large part to Pannell’s leadership and discernment.

“We used to teach more to a test,” Pannell says. This led to little class involvement during trainings that translated into officers not fully grasping the material. Now, though, Pannell has incorporated traditional teaching techniques with scenario-based learning. She also uses what she calls ‘over-learning,’ which requires officers to explain every step of their reasoning so that each class session builds on the previous day’s material and all officers are given an opportunity to discuss their actions.

However, the job of a police officer is not just a day at the beach.

“Nobody calls a police officer or psychologist to tell them they are having a good day,” Pannell explains.

Because of the high-stress levels she and her colleagues work under, Pannell understands that her faith, a faith that was nurtured and matured during her time at NNU, plays a lead role in her day-to-day routine.

It is this faith, along with her incredible talent, that has won her the praise and respect of her peers, superiors and those under her command.

“I often see people at their worst, and I have to have a faith base or I could easily become discouraged and down,” Pannell says.

Pannell is quick to credit her time at NNU and the relationships she built there with creating a strong foundation for her faith. Because of her many student activities, including choir tours to Europe and Asia, she is able to interact with people from various backgrounds, allowing her to more fully embrace those she comes into contact with on a daily basis.

She also notes that the professors she met, including current psychology professor and dean of NNU’s School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Ron Ponsford, helped her discover her strengths and encouraged her to pursue her dreams, despite the fact she was not sure she could.  Even after graduating and leaving the area, support from Dr. Ponsford continued.  While attending Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, Dr. Ponsford helped find her a place to live—with his parents!

The relationships she built while attending NNU continue, Pannell says, and the importance that was placed on the growth of her faith has helped to shape her to this day.
“Growing up in Red Deer, Alberta, I never thought I would wind up here, but God did.”

Indeed, God knows.

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