Trending Topics

IACP 2022: How mindset can compromise situational intelligence

Stress-reduction techniques are critical to law enforcement officers interpreting and applying data from real-time policing sensors and sources


The application of data to real-time policing is filtered through our mindset, biases, cognition and influenced by the stress being experienced by law enforcement officers and the people with whom they are interacting.


DALLAS — Laura Brown, a learning and development expert, spoke to attendees of the 2022 International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, about the impact of mindset on the application of real-time policing information on situational intelligence.

Rather than instructing attendees on the operation of software applications or the installation of hardware sensors, Brown explored how learning, stress, cognition and emotions impact the perception, interpretation and application of data gathered through real-time policing.

Real-time policing is the use of safety critical systems that serve the objective of equipping officers with situational awareness by surfacing the right information at the right time. A breakdown of a safety critical system could lead to a loss of life, property damage or a decline in well-being.

Data sources for real-time policing include people, software and hardware sensors. There are many hardware sensors, such as ALPR, drones, body cameras, fixed cameras, dash cameras, as well as social networks, phone calls and text messages that gather data for law enforcement officers. There is a large and growing amount of this cloud-based information available to law enforcement agencies and their personnel.

Situational intelligence, according to Brown, is the ability to accurately analyze the factors making up one’s environment for the purpose of executing a strategy. Situational intelligence for police officers requires an unwavering focus on the objective, deep knowledge of proven strategies to accomplish the objective with well-trained skills and the ability to adapt based on changing circumstances.

applying mindset to real-time policing

Sensors, connected to cloud-based services, give police and other first responders increasing access to information while promising to improve officer safety, increase community trust and prevent devastating events from occurring. But the application of that data to real-time policing and situational intelligence is filtered through our mindset, biases, cognition and influenced by the stress being experienced by law enforcement officers and the people they are interacting with.

Brown, who serves as director of learning and development for Oracle, has explored the use of technology for law enforcement training since 2017.

Here are three top takeaways from Brown’s presentation:

1. Understand the risks of real-time policing data

Sensors gather and deliver to law enforcement a constant and increasing flow of data from sensors, from ALPR to doorbell cameras to next-generation 911. But the use of that data is not without risk. Two of those risks, according to Brown, are bias and deception. Brown described the reality of implicit and explicit bias, as well as how deception can complicate the interpretation and usefulness of data from sensors.

“Maybe you are sick of hearing about bias,” Brown said. “You have bias about bias.”

Brown then described the differences between implicit and explicit bias and how those might impact the use of real-time policing data. She also discussed several different ways deception is present in media and advertising, as well as how bad actors might manipulate video, social media and other types of sensor data.

Brown recommended several safe practices for mitigating the risks of bias and deception:

  • Don’t trust data that hasn’t been authenticated;

  • Keep the worst-case scenario in your working memory;

  • Don’t let your skills deprecate; and

  • Learn cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and hybrid threat response.

2. Think about the way you think

An individual officer may not be thinking about the way they think, but educators and advertisers use metacognition, which is the process of thinking about the way people think and learn. According to Brown, when people are under stress, they are easier to manipulate and deceive and more difficult to teach or de-escalate.

3. Manage your stress

Brown introduced the session by discussing how stress was ever-present during her childhood and her recognition that chronic stress influenced her environment, the person she became and the career path she chose. Stress, either as a constant in life or acutely in the moment, influences decisions, behaviors and actions. Brown encouraged attendees to be aware of their stress and its sources and regularly manage their stress. She recommended the ongoing importance and application of mindful meditation, as well as tactical breathing during moments of acute stress.

“Indulge yourself in de-stressors,” Brown recommended. Exercise or reading, for example, as a daily practice can reduce stress and help law enforcement officers have better situational awareness.

Brown also encouraged attendees to “metabolize any remaining stress daily.” Removing stress through journaling or other activities every day is good for the officer’s health and their ability to use real-time policing data. “Get the anger out,” Brown said.

Learn more

The Police1 health and wellness section is a great place to learn more about stress management, physical and emotional well-being and the connection between stress and police.

Here are two other resources mentioned during the presentation.

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1, EMS1 and Gov1. Greg has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, paramedic and runner. Greg is a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Ask questions or submit article ideas to Greg by emailing him at and connect with him on LinkedIn.