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6 New Year’s resolutions every cop should make

Police1 publishes a lot of content every year – here are some professional changes to make based on articles penned in 2019

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Here’s a summary of some of key learning points from just a few of the nearly 600 articles published on PoliceOne in 2019.


I have reviewed nearly 600 articles featured on Police1 in 2019, including dozens I have penned. That’s a lot of information.

In case you didn’t get to read them all, here’s a summary of some of the key learning points for you to incorporate into your New Year’s resolutions. Raise your right hand and repeat after me – I hereby resolve to:

1. Go to a trade show

By my calculations and classifications, more than 15% of articles on Police1 involved police products. A number of those reports were derived from trade shows. The big three are SHOT Show, ILEETA and IACP.

The Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade show (from whence the SHOT acronym is derived) is purely a trade show and restricted to users and purchasers for law enforcement, military and outdoor products. It is the only show I haven’t been to, although I’m hoping to rectify that this coming January in Las Vegas.

ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association) hosts an annual training conference for its members. The 2020 conference is in St. Louis in March and features a product and equipment show from major makers and suppliers of law enforcement equipment and technology. If you want to hear the leading police trainers on relevant topics and see the latest in cop stuff, ILEETA should be worked into your personal or department budget and calendar. Several episodes of the Policing Matters podcast this year featured interviews with ILEETA instructors.

The IACP conference is in New Orleans in October 2020 and, while the conference is for members only, the trade show is open to law enforcement with credentials after registration for a pass, regardless of whether you are an IACP member or attend the conference sessions. You’ll see everything from holsters to helicopters, as well as informational exhibits on services and agencies you can network with for your agency’s success. If you are a trainer or have purchasing authority, you don’t want to miss this expansive trade show if you have the opportunity. Check out PoliceOne’s coverage of IACP 2019 here.

Top police training tip from the Importance of being a ‘predator’ in a deadly confrontation, ILEETA 2019:

A lot of different scenarios police officers learn in response to aggression used to be and still is, unfortunately, to step back and to create distance or reactionary gaps. Although there may be a time when this is appropriate, normally we operate in very close proximity to the subject. And oftentimes it’s too late to go backward. When you start going backward, you begin to act like prey. Unfortunately, when you begin to act like prey, things go in one direction: from bad to worse.

2. Boost my career

With over 80 articles on leadership and career success, a scan of content from writers who know the keys to get hired, promoted, assigned and performing as a police leader offers nuggets worth their weight in gold for getting you where you want to be. You’ll find good counsel for solid, ethical service that will give a boost to anyone’s career and provide guidance for your police retirement.

If you’re already in leadership, you’ll find the voice of experience of police leaders who have been at the boss’ desk or supervisor’s squad car. With every decision being scrutinized for a reporter’s explosive headline or a malcontent’s viral video, you’ll want to hear from PoliceOne’s writers on topics in the news.

Top police training tip from How to improve your odds for promotion in 2020:

If I were a chief executive today, I would evaluate promotional candidates on their knowledge and understanding of the issues that create the greatest challenges within the geopolitical arena. For example, a clear understanding of de-escalation and less-lethal force options would be critical to a police leadership role in the year 2020 and beyond.

3. Get more fit and resilient

I’m proud to be associated with Police1 for a lot of reasons, but attention to holistic physical and mental well-being is over 5% of the website’s content and Police1 has been a leader in exposing and presenting these issues.

Officer suicide, police fatigue, stress-related maladies, healthy relationships and care for injured officers are all topics worth revisiting. As a police veteran, I can testify that open discussions of these issues are relatively new to the police profession. Staying current on best practices to keep yourself and your brother and sister officers healthy and serving well is a survival skill, not just a warm feeling.

Top police training tip from How to enjoy your life while avoiding death by a thousand cuts:

Some officers never learn to accept positive critique. Instead, they become defensive and internalize anger toward anyone who has the nerve to try to make them better cops. If you can learn to appreciate constructive criticism from FTOs, assistant district attorneys and supervisors instead of letting it anger you, it will eliminate a major irritant in your life. It may also make you a better cop.

4. Keep in touch with my community

Few academics or law enforcement executives agree on what community policing is or looks like, or how it should be managed.

I’ve heard it said (sometimes out of my own mouth), that before the 1990s when federal dollars followed anything labeled “community-oriented policing and problem solving,” we just called it “police work.”

However it is articulated or put into practice, it means connecting with the people you serve in a way that builds trust and solves problems. Take a look at the dozens of articles featuring community policing and social media tips to see if you find a new way you can connect.

Top police training tip from 4 ways officers can improve neighborhood relationships:

I cannot say enough about the importance of volunteering in the community you police. People who volunteer are active in their communities and are the type of people we need spreading the truth about our profession. Being a public servant should not stop when you take the uniform off – volunteering keeps you connected to the community you are policing.

5. Be a better crime fighter

One of my observations over the years is that no knowledge is lost in police work. I remember a former meat cutter turned deputy sheriff who was able to solve a poaching case due to his knowledge of how the game had been field dressed, a cop who was a coin collecting hobbyist whose knowledge was key in solving a burglary, and a farm boy who spotted a stolen farm implement that an urban officer might never have recognized.

With at least 10% of Police1 articles providing investigative and technology insights, something might just solve a case.

Top police training tip from Writing effective case summaries:

One of the best ways to introduce an investigation is by writing an effective case summary, which lays out your investigation and findings succinctly and in an orderly, logical and easy to read format. This allows the prosecutor to quickly gain a solid understanding of the facts of the case, as well as any potential defenses.

6. Be even safer

In keeping with its mission, a full quarter or more of PoliceOne’s digital pages are devoted to issues related to tactics, training and legal updates around the use of force and officer safety.

Writers give significant attention to active shooter, ambush and major incident response. Because these events are statistically rare but could happen to any agency or even a single officer, a review of this knowledge base is time well spent.

Top police training tip from 5 tips for preventing active shooter drills from going sideways:

It’s not uncommon for a drill to be executed then simply ended without a plan for a thorough, all-encompassing debrief. Make sure you have a debriefing plan in place so you can identify what went right, spotlight what can be refined and learn from what may have gone wrong.

Keep reading in 2020

I’ve been reading and writing for Police1 for about 15 years. The arc of my career shifted a few times during those years, but I always kept reading and writing. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of the greatest trainers on the planet who are contributors and am in awe of being in their company. When tens of thousands of readers take time to check out an article, we want to make sure we say something worthy of their attention.

You can put your hand down now.

Joel Shults retired as Chief of Police in Colorado. Over his 30-year career in uniformed law enforcement and criminal justice education, Joel served in a variety of roles: academy instructor, police chaplain, deputy coroner, investigator, community relations officer, college professor and police chief, among others. Shults earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri, with a graduate degree in Public Services Administration and a bachelor degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Central Missouri. In addition to service with the U.S. Army military police and CID, Shults has done observational studies with over 50 police agencies across the country. He has served on a number of advisory and advocacy boards, including the Colorado POST curriculum committee, as a subject matter expert.