Friday, November 18, 2011

More With Less Part II – Training

Police senior management must ensure that diminishing budgets do not negatively affect, eliminate or curtail training.   Studies consistently indicate that the number one reason police departments are sued is due to failure to train or a departure from required training.  Police executives must maintain the training budget.  

Training is an investment; it is not an expense. Training must be continued.  If the doing more with less approach can be used, it should be. For in-house training, establishing standard curriculum prevents duplication of effort and factual errors. This practice also ensures that a pre-determined set of skills are developed based on the training.  All in-house training must be standardized, reviewed, authorized, and available via Powerpoint or other media so that a number of trainers can access it.  The days of a trainer coming in unprepared or flying by the seat of his her pants with notes on index cards is over.   
Each department should have a feedback method in which stakeholders can identify areas where training is needed.  Officers will have more buy-in for training if the curriculum is addressing questions they have had.
Departments can look at reducing travel costs, training in-house trainers, sharing training costs with neighboring jurisdictions, on-line training, distance-learning, video-conferencing, and eliminating unnecessary expense for fancy hand outs or meals.   The training must continue, however.  Training is the only way that officers remain standing.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Doing More with Less - Part One

Graphic courtesy of the Design On Talent blog 
Doing more with less is the new reality for police upper management.   Careful financial management has always been necessary. These days doing more with less is a critically-important component of successful law enforcement.  

Up until the very recent past, making budget dollars stretch was a short-term, Band-Aid solution, often deployed at the end of a physical year or possibly the result of some unforeseen and temporary circumstances.  In these challenging financial times, lean and entrepreneurial policing is now an integral part of policy and procedure.

Departments may not replace personnel lost through attrition. Sworn positions may be evaluated to determine if civilians can accomplish the same task.  Full-time personnel may be converted to part-time to save salary and benefit expense.  Departments may use interns and volunteers to save money.    Scheduling changes can often save budget dollars and increase officer job satisfaction.

Some departments are moving toward 12-hour shifts for uniform patrol.  This solution may not work everywhere, especially in smaller department lacking depth in personnel.  There are pros and cons to using 12-hour shifts.  Senior executives should carefully consider if this solution is appropriate.  They must carefully monitor injuries and vehicle accidents to ensure that officer fatigue does not negatively impact the department. However, 12 hour shifts do place more officers on the street at the same personnel cost. 

Departments may also evaluate whether a switch from the traditional police car paint job to decals is appropriate.  Police executives must carefully evaluate purchases made for them by other areas of city government.  It is a common practice for one municipal office to negotiate purchases for many city departments.  This often makes good financial sense, but such purchases and any resulting savings should be carefully tracked in financial reports.

There are no easy answers these days in police budgeting.  The competent police professional will ensure that all stakeholders are involved in preliminary budget discussions.  Rank and file employees must understand and cooperate with changes so that the implementation process is efficient and effective.   All personnel levels need to understand the problem. Senior police managers and executives should seek out the thoughts of subordinates as they initiate change.

Personnel must feel that their dedication and service to the department is appreciated.  Police executives must stress that that changing financial times have forced management to adopt a more with less approach, not any lack of respect for personnel. 

All staff members may not be persuaded to support the changes, but they will remember that management reached out. They will remember having input as stakeholders in the process. If morale is not maintained within a department, then more will not be accomplished with less.  Rank and file personnel must play an active role.

Effective management generates effective policing. Doing more with less will enhance the quality of policing.  Law enforcement will learn to streamline procedures, eliminate unnecessary paperwork, collaborate effectively with other agencies, and accomplish the tasks at hand on a professional level with fewer personnel.

At the end of each tour, each officer must remain standing when more is asked of them than ever before.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Armor of God Project

pic courtesy of the Armor of God website
Recently I ran across some information about a charity which addresses a need very close to my heart...officer safety. The very name of my blog, Officer Standing, speaks to the importance I place on ensuring that law enforcement officers return home to their families...standing.

Armor of God is a non-profit organization founded by law enforcement officers to see that body armor is available to all.  Many smaller departments of under five officers do not have the means to purchase this equipment.  Working with donated vests and a shoestring budget, the volunteers who administer this program are able to do miracles with very little.

You can learn more about the Armor of God program by reviewing this video:

or checking out their website:

Friday, October 21, 2011


Leadership is a quality which continues to evolve and refine itself within the effective police professional.  Leading is an action verb which is constantly developing within the character of senior law enforcement officers.   Leaders are never satisfied to stay at the same level, but strive continuously to improve and better themselves personally and professionally.
Today’s leaders are those who can stand their ground as they bend.  Demonstrating flexibility within the law while maintaining professional integrity is a key factor which fosters efficiency, effectiveness, and professionalism in police executives.   Commitment to integrity and professionalism is one way that individuals lead by example.  There is no other way to run a police department.  Junior officers watch your every move and you must be equal to their scrutiny
The most effective leaders are readily recognized. They do not talk as much as they listen.  True leaders are secure enough in their own competence that they feel comfortable in reaching out to others to lean on their expertise.  Taking the time to gain the insight of someone more knowledgeable than oneself regarding a certain topic is also a sign of wisdom and maturity.
A truly efficient and effective leader is someone properly focused on the issue at hand.  He or she has the ability to choose wisely in spending time on the really important issues, rather than being controlled by the tyranny of the urgent, yet less important. 
Effective leaders are also comfortable in delegating tasks as appropriate.    Some police executives believe that they are needed if things fall apart when they are gone.  The mark of superb leadership is an executive who trains and delegates so effectively that the department runs seamlessly in his or her absence.
Police executives may have to make excellent decisions which are at the same time unpopular.  Nevertheless, the action is must be taken and any unfavorable reactions are dealt with professionally.
True leaders understand policing is a profession. It is not a job. Policing is a challenge. It is not a task.  Policing is a privilege only experienced by a very few.
Police leaders need not be the biggest, strongest, fastest, bravest, best educated, or most skilled individual s representing our police departments. Yet, if you merge these traits together as one you have your leader.   These ingredients, combined with one’s own character, create a leader.  This is not something which can be practiced or taught. It is one’s personal identity which shows itself in the role of community service, often under pressure.
The effective police leader does what needs to be done to keep all officers standing in challenging times.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Victimization: The Key Characteristic of the Active Shooter

All criminal justice professionals should understand victimization. A currently Active Shooter or an individual in process of one of the phases of the Active Shooter has the mindset that he is a victim in some way. Logic does not have a role here.

The combination of being ashamed, embarrassed, humiliated, depressed, and angry all serve as fuel to the fire which motivates the Active Shooter over time.  It makes no difference if the victimization is real or imagined. It is very much real in the mind of a potential Active Shooter. Victimization simply serves as motivation and justification.

All information available about Active Shooters is relevant because it helps us understand them.  However, each incident is particular to itself. I conducted a study and wrote a thesis for my Masters about the correlation between crime and victimization. My finding was that victimization precedes criminality. The youth who participated in the study all indicated each was tired of being the victim so they acted out.  Once they acted out, all felt power and control never sensed previously.

Just as there are no born criminals, there are no born Active Shooters. Until each school system and university has a liaison officer in communication with the local law enforcement agency, the Active Shooter will continue to show himself. There must be a marriage between law enforcement and the Department of Education or University Police Departments.

In order to accomplish this, the following is needed:

·         Each school system can monitor and address non-criminal incidents in house.

·         Law enforcement will address criminal conduct.

·         At times, a local school or university may need to team up with law enforcement to take appropriate action together as one to offset the possibility of an Active Shooter incident.

Understanding what makes Active Shooters tick will help to keep officers (and civilian victims) standing.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Law Enforcement and 21st Century Communication

Recently, Jack Ryan, an attorney, for the PATC Legal & Liability Risk Management Institute brought to light a situation which law enforcement officers needs to understand. Quite simply, it is the position of the higher courts that members of the public have a fundamental right to utilize a cell phone to record law enforcement officers in a public place or any place the citizens have the right to be.   Here is a link to Jack's article:
Jack further indicated that the police need to get over it. I agree. Why not rethink the situation?
If citizens may record officers involved in an arrest, why not use this as a tool?  Law enforcement’s greatest weapon is communication. It demonstrates good faith and professionalism. Why not be recorded where one’s actions be observed simultaneously with verbal directives, such as:
Police Officer! Freeze!                                                                                                                               
Police Officer! Don’t move!                                                                                                                   
Police Officer! Stop fighting! 
Police Officer! Cooperate! We don’t want to hurt you!                                                                                               
Police Officer! Show me your hands!         
Police Officer! Drop the gun!   
Police Officer! Drop the knife!
Expect to be recorded, expect to be filmed, and be prepared to identify any individual with a cell phone on scene who may be able to provide a recording of the incident. Let’s turn a recording of officers by an onlooker into evidence in support of an arrest rather than a means of initiating an action against the police for wrongful conduct. Officers are to do what needs to be done as per the circumstances at hand. Recordings as tools are not to be feared. They are an aid to help ensure throughout the USA there are - Officers Standing!          

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11 Rembered by a Ground Zero Responder

Twelve miles separates my community from the northern boundary of New York City. Twelve miles and, then again, light years and worlds apart. On the one side, a teeming metropolis. On the other, a village. Skyscrapers and the center of the world on one side, green grass, a peaceful harbor, and a small town feel on the other.

I was a sergeant on September 11, 2001, a sergeant conversing with his chief in our small department’s headquarters. The first plane had flown into the Twin Towers. A small television sat in that office. He and I watched in horror as the second plane completed its evil mission. There was no doubt America was under attack.

Less than twenty four hours later, teletype requests for mutual aid reached the Chief. Just about every member of my department took turns responding. My opportunity came the next night, when the 4/12 tour finished up, my squad responded. 

As we drove that 12 miles, I entered into another world. A world I never thought to see and sincerely hope to never see again. There was little chitchat as we drove. Never in all of my professional life had I considered that my small department of 50 sworn officers would respond to a call for help from the 40,000 sworn officers of NYPD. Yet there I was. As with many other things that evening, it was surreal.

Images from that evening revolve in the windmills of my recollection of that time. Hundreds of ambulances from numerous jurisdictions lined up in the Bronx, ready to assist victims as requested.   At that time, no one realized, there was almost no one left to save.

I stood waiting to sign in at the Ground Zero command post and looked at the horror below me, smoke made up of unspeakable things rose in a miasma, surrounding the workers. Firefighters were lined up in massage chairs taking a break. They were covered with residue. Was it diesel fuel? Vaporized human remains? Asbestos? Paper? Wood, or a combination of each together as one? The firefighters were bent and weary. Their faces were lined with grief and that pervasive evil dust. That dust rose as large equipment moved rebar and girders to find someone, anyone left alive. I heard the rumble of bulldozers and earthmovers and the beep, beep, beep of the vehicles backing up, there in the middle of the night. That pallor of the dust made me feel like I was on the moon.

I quickly realized we were not prepared to be on scene, We did not have the right equipment. I called my officers to me and moved along with signing in. That dust made me cautious. I instinctively knew that it was good to be as far away from it as possible. My fellow officers and I were assigned a security detail at a gas station.  The owner, of  middle-eastern descent, was giving the gas away to any city volunteers that needed it. There were a lot of ordinary New Yorkers, unsung heroes, who did things like that.
I went home to my family that night. We all did. Sixty of my fellow Port Authority and New York City police officers did not. 343 paramedics and firefighters never returned home on September 11, 2001. Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers who courageously said “let’s roll” and crashed the plane in Shanksville, PA never returned home. Numerous others have since contracted cancer or died as a result of their exposure to that dust.

Let’s remember all our heroes of 9/11, respect all our heroes. Remember those known to us, as well as the unknown, and those we have yet to hear about. We must honor what happened in the past by doing what is being asked of us today. We must learn the lessons provided by 9/11 and use critical incident management and scenario-based planning to ensure that all first responders remain…officers standing.