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21 on 2021: A police leadership playbook

Strategies for success in 21 key areas of policing

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The 2022 police leadership playbook is now available. Click here to access.

As we close the books on 2020, it is time to reflect on the lessons identified during one of the most tumultuous years for law enforcement in recent history. From the coronavirus pandemic to civil unrest to the ongoing police recruitment and retention crisis, the 366 days of this first year of the 2020s put all of public safety to the test.

Police1 asked 21 law enforcement experts to outline solutions for the ongoing and emerging issues facing police leaders and officers in 2021. Following are a few excerpts from “21 on 2021: A police leadership playbook.”

For a PDF of the complete playbook, fill out the form below.

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Assistant Chief Martine N. Materasso


2020 was a tumultuous year for law enforcement nationwide and as we enter 2021, we are still dealing with remnants of those issues. However, it is important to remember that all officers need to practice resiliency and remain vigilant. This is especially true for officers who perform counterterrorism duties.

Protests, attrition rates and complications of COVID-19 have caused counterterrorism personnel to expand upon their normal duties. The balancing act of maintaining counterterrorism deployments with regular police service or mass civil disobedience is critical for police leaders. If this is not done correctly, we are leaving ourselves open to the social and economic consequences of terrorism. Resiliency and vigilance are paramount in combating terror – and police leaders must instill these virtues in their officers.

Read more: How family terror networks impact investigations

Assistant Chief Martine N. Materasso is the commanding officer of the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau.

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Captain Toni Roach

Mental Health Outreach

Police leaders can improve community mental health outreach programs through purposeful partnerships.

Both law enforcement and behavioral health organizations work tirelessly to serve this vulnerable population but often find themselves working parallel and even duplicating efforts. Working together as a team can exponentially improve success with this population using consistent communication to discuss needs, gaps and trends.

Through this collaboration, the behavioral health community can provide much-needed training to law enforcement to help recognize crisis and techniques to successfully de-escalate. Law enforcement agencies provide a perspective on crisis emergency response that the behavioral health community often doesn’t see. Strong partnerships help facilitate progress in the community, as well as trust and respect.

Read more: How to develop a successful mental health intervention program

Captain Toni Roach oversees the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Health Intervention Team.

Police Reform

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Chief Art Acevedo

As a strong proponent of relational policing, I believe communication is vital for a successful community relationship. On-going, open and transparent communication strengthens the bond between departments and the communities we serve.

Relational policing is a mindset and commitment to a spirit of service that starts with the realization that every human interaction is a relationship. True reform cannot be achieved unless respect is the cornerstone for each contact we make. As departments interact with our communities to understand their needs and priorities, we must commit to transparency, respect, engagement and accountability to build emotional capital with the communities we provide services to.

Police reform must continue to be a national conversation. Law enforcement leaders need to acknowledge that there are issues, but we also need to provide context to the conversation.

Lastly, we must have a standard for the use of deadly force wherein the force used is objectively reasonable AND necessary. Necessity of force must be at the forefront.

Read more: Reforming law enforcement starts with law enforcement

Art Acevedo is chief of police for the Houston Police Department and currently the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

For a PDF of the complete playbook, fill out the form below.

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Experts featured in “21 on 2021: A police leadership playbook”

For a PDF of the “21 on 2021: A police leadership playbook,” fill out the form below.