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23 on 2023: A police leadership playbook

Strategies for success in 23 key areas of policing

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While 2022 didn’t being the unprecedented challenges of a COVID pandemic combined with widespread civil unrest, police departments were tasked with battling rising violent crime at a time of historic staff shortages.

Police1 asked law enforcement experts to outline solutions for the ongoing and emerging issues facing police leaders and officers in 2023. We hope this playbook will serve as a roadmap to help you successfully navigate the path ahead. Following are a few excerpts from “23 on 2023: A police leadership playbook.”

To download the complete playbook, complete the Get Access to this Police1 Resource box on this page.

Active shooter response

Following the horrific attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, active shooter response has again become a priority for many agencies. As agencies update their preparations to deal with these attacks, two key issues must be addressed.

The first is that training to respond to these attacks must be a continuous effort. It is not enough to send your officers through a two-day class, check the box, and say you are ready. Many of the officers who responded to Uvalde had received this type of training, and it clearly was not enough.

The second is that law enforcement agencies must get better at operating under the incident command system (ICS). We still want the first wave of officers to rush to the scene to confront the attacker and stop the killing, but after that first wave has hit the location, the second and later waves of officers must operate under incident command. If not, the hundreds of arriving officers become a blue tsunami that will swamp the scene and hurt our ability to save lives. Officers not in the first wave must begin building out the incident command structure.

The key to this is setting up a staging area that all officers not in the first wave report to. This enables those arriving officers to be deployable assets instead of randomly appearing problems. Failure to establish effective incident command was a major factor in the failure to confront the attacker for more than an hour at Uvalde.

Resource: Uvalde school shooting response analysis

Dr. J. Pete Blair is the Executive Director of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center and a professor of criminal justice and criminology at Texas State University.

Evidence-based policing

Gun violence threatens officer and public safety, strains police resources and devastates vulnerable communities. Gun violence surged in many jurisdictions in 2022, but there is good news: research offers solutions to gun violence hot spots.

Police leaders juggling demands for gun violence reduction, reform, and improved officer safety and wellness, need access to effective, evidence-based strategies in 2023. Place Network Investigations (PNI) is a strategy designed to reduce gun violence, strengthen police-community relations, protect officers and decrease the need for officer use of force.

PNI investigators rely on two facts. First, crime is concentrated. Every cop knows which specific places drive neighborhood crime. Second, and most importantly, high-crime places are part of a larger crime-place network. When we attack visible crime places, offenders retreat into the rest of the hidden network. The offenders, and gun violence hotspots, return after police redeploy resources elsewhere. The proverbial “whack-a-mole” game ensues, and officers are asked to repeatedly return to dangerous locations.

PNI investigators work with communities to identify crime-place networks (building meaningful police-community relationships), and cities prioritize resources to block offenders from using them (producing significant and sustainable violence reductions). PNI eliminates our most persistent violent hotspots without over-reliance on traditional saturation tactics (putting officers at risk) and widespread arrests (straining community relations).

Experts: Place-based strategies are effective, central to police reform

Tamara D. Herold, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Senior Research Advisor at the National Institute of Justice. She is a crime scientist, crime prevention strategist and co-architect of the Place Network Investigation violence reduction strategy.

School threat assessments

Protecting the youth of our community will always be a top priority for law enforcement. Mass shootings and violence on school campuses have parents on edge. They are looking to us for proactive solutions on how to keep schools safe when they send their children out the door each morning.

In Orange County, we have found success through the development of a program created more than two decades ago, the School Mobile Assessment Resource Team (SMART). The goal of SMART is to identify threats before they materialize and provide resources to the school or student to reduce the possibility of a violent event. Early intervention can save lives and stop troubled students from going down a destructive path. SMART is a partnership among law enforcement agencies, probation, the district attorney’s office, school site personnel and mental health clinicians. SMART evaluates and assesses each incident individually to effectively resolve the matter through the least intrusive means available (while still maintaining safety and security in the school), and ultimately return the staff and students to their daily routine.

For the 2021-2022 school year, Orange County SMART handled approximately 300 threat assessments and calls for service. These 300 incidents may have developed into something more serious without notification and early intervention. Key to the effort is training school staff on how to recognize and report threats, as well as working with law enforcement to take appropriate action. To date, we have trained nearly 1000 school site personnel and peace officers.

Early intervention and violence prevention are not possible without collaboration, engagement and willingness to break down bureaucratic barriers. This can involve a great deal of time, effort and resources, but nothing is more worthy of that investment than the safety of our children.

Listen: How Orange County SMART averts violence

Sheriff Don Barnes was elected the 13th Sheriff-Coroner for Orange County, California in November 2018. He leads the 4,000 sworn and professional men and women who serve in areas as diverse as patrol operations, criminal and special investigations, and the county’s crime lab and courts, as well as those who serve in Orange County’s five jails that collectively comprise one of the nation’s largest jail systems.

Experts featured in “23 on 2023" A police leadership playbook”

  • Accreditation by Major Steve Runge
  • Active shooter response by Dr. J. Pete Blair
  • Conflict management by Sergeant (ret.) Jason Lehman
  • Crisis communications by Chief (ret.) Christopher Mannino
  • Digital evidence management by Steve Paxton
  • Disaster response by Chief Tracy L. Frazzano
  • Diversity, equity & inclusion by Chief Timothy Longo
  • Early intervention systems by Chief Robert McNeilly
  • Evidence-based policing by Tamara D. Herold, Ph.D.
  • Female officer recruitment by Kym Craven
  • Fentanyl by Ben Westhoff
  • Field training by Sergeant Dan Greene
  • Fusion centers by Lt. Jeff Keck
  • Mental health outreach by Melissa Stone, LSW
  • Officer safety by Gordon Graham
  • Officer wellness & human performance optimization by Mandy Nice
  • Real-time crime centers by Sergeant Dalton Webb
  • Recruitment by Officer Nate McGee
  • School threat assessments by Sheriff Don Barnes
  • Tactical disengagement by Lt. Ruben Lopez
  • Technology by Captain Miriam Foxx
  • Training by Scott Savage
  • Transparency by Shaun Ward, D. Mgt.

Click here to view last year’s playbook.

To download the complete playbook, complete the Get Access to this Police1 Resource box on this page.