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Chief Robert McNeilly on how early intervention can identify issues before they become problems

“When officers make mistakes in their career, 95% of the time it’s the fault of the department.”


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Managing police officers is a difficult task since the job is so multi-faceted and often fast-paced. We ask officers to do so many things, and in the process to be smart, thoughtful, judicious, efficient and thorough.

Some people make assumptions that an officer has complete control over their environment. Of course, this is not true. Officers can be well trained, yet may be challenged in dealing with individuals under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or in a mental health crisis. They are often asked to go into situations where people are in conflict or combative. In these cases, de-escalation may only be a theory, rather than an achievable act.

Many agencies use a system to help detect problems by looking at statistics accumulated in an early intervention system. In this episode of Policing Matters, host Jim Dudley speaks with Chief Robert McNeilly, Jr., about how an early intervention system can work best for agencies, officers and communities.

During Chief McNeilly’s 37-year career, he guided the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police through 10 of its most turbulent years, taking office one week after a series of lawsuits filed against the city by individuals and the ACLU led to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation and the first civil-rights “pattern or practice” consent decree in American history. He is the author of “Blue Continuum: A Police Chief’s Perspective on What’s Wrong with Policing Today and How to Fix It,” and a leading trainer and consultant in police management techniques.

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Policing Matters law enforcement podcast with host Jim Dudley features law enforcement and criminal justice experts discussing critical issues in policing