Craig Goralski is a “lifetime student,” using his degrees in criminal justice, law and business in his law enforcement career.
For 29 years, Goralski worked for the Houston Police Department on patrol, in the jail, in supervisory positions, in civil recruitment, as a supervising attorney for the Police Chief, and finally as head of the pension board. Two years ago, he was named Assistant Chief of the Houston METRO Police Department, an agency charged with protecting the public transit system in and around the Houston metropolitan area.
With 31 years on the job, Goralski said he still has 20 more to go and hopes one day to be a Police Chief and to teach.
“I am a lifetime student, and I really enjoy academic learning,” said Goralski. “I have learned a lot in the 31 years. I like to learn, reflect and apply it.”
After getting a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, a law degree and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston, Goralski said he got “his capstone” with the Master of Criminal Justice Leadership and Management from Sam Houston State University, College of Criminal Justice in 2011.
“It synthesized all the experience and education I had received,” said Goralski. “It allows me to reflect on what I had done and to improve on how I supervise and lead.”
Goralski is no stranger to leadership. As a Captain over patrol and investigations in the Northeast District at the Houston Police Department, Goralski commanded 500 officers. At Houston METRO, he supervises 191 officers and 40 to 50 civilian employees in patrol, investigations, dispatch, internal investigations and plainclothes.
“Leaders influence others to get the job done,” said Goralski. “My job is about 90 percent leadership to create the procedures that are not only effective, but get the work done.”
To jump start that process at Houston METRO, Goralski led a strategic planning process that involved and motivated all levels of the department and trained top level leadership. It now serves as the “compass” for the department and has buy-in from the chain of command.
“That means more to me than anything,” said Goralski. “What you leave behind are the people and how good they are.”
Because of his diverse background, Goralski’s career has taken some interesting twists and turns. After beginning his career in patrol and becoming a supervisor in the jail and in patrol, Goralski was named lieutenant over civilian recruiting, in charge of hiring the 2,400 non-police workers in the department.
With a background in law, Goralski also became the supervising attorney for the Police Chief, overseeing five lawyers who dealt with legal issues in the department, such as employment law and reviews of internal investigations. Finally, with his MBA, he served as the head of the Houston Police Officers Pension System, which handles investment of more than $3.5 billion and offers pension benefits to members, their families, and beneficiaries.
As a supervisor Goralski said it is important to remember officers that serve on the frontline.
“Don’t forget the officers on the ground,” said Goralski. “They are the ones who are dealing with fellow officers, the public and criminals. Treat them well and show them by example. Also treat the public well and justify the trust and authority they have given you.”