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Crisis Management in Unstable Times
MICHAEL HERRERA & RICHARD LONG | November 17, 2020
As everyone who has ever stubbed their toe knows, the world can be a dangerous place. Business is not immune to this reality. In fact, sometimes it seems to have a big target painted on its back. Crises and emergencies happen all the time in the world of business and organizations. Equipment catches fire, chemicals leak, roofs collapse. Storms hit, sinkholes open, and people on company premises trip and are injured or become ill. Sometimes people representing the organization act inappropriately or unlawfully, bringing bad publicity and the attention of law enforcement. Sometimes disturbed people perpetrate acts of violence, turning…
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Michael Herrera is the CEO of MHA Consulting, a leading business continuity planning and information technology consulting firm. Herrera is the founder of BCMMetrics, which specializes in business continuity software designed to aid organizations in developing and executing business continuity programs. ... Richard Long is a senior advisory consultant and practice team leader for MHA Consulting, where he has successfully leads international and domestic disaster recovery, technology assessment, crisis management, and risk mitigation engagements.
Public services being provided by police departments to citizens in our nation’s cities are changing rapidly. This is due to the changing ethnic composition of our society, the national enhancement of police services, the greater use of new technologies by our police departments, and the increasing diversity of police departments. These are taking place to reflect the citizens being served.
Some of these evolving best practices are described below. Depending upon the nature of these service changes, the funds needed to implement them, and the staffing required to do so, many of these changes can be implemented directly by the chief of police, while other changing services might require approval of the city manager and possibly the city’s elected officials, especially if additional funding is required. The evolving best practices of police departments in America are highlighted below.
Increasing public outreach to citizens by police officers is rapidly taking place via social media, video applications, and other digital technologies.
Police departments are developing “police-to-citizen” (P2C) websites to empower citizens with information about their community’s police services. This information is made available for citizens to access 24 hours a day on their personal computers.
Police departments are starting to use the nation’s “Wireless Emergency Alert System” (WEAS) to solicit citizen feedback on recent crime incidents and to encourage citizens to help facilitate the location of the people who caused them.
Police departments are increasingly using “encrypted radio systems” (ERS) so criminals can’t use smart phone applications to monitor a police department’s emergency response to a citizen’s local 911 call-for-service.
The increased use of “domain awareness systems” (DAS), primarily surveillance cameras used to monitor school entrances and downtown intersections, as well as other important locations, is on the increase. The general usage of such digital surveillance technologies is increasingly being developed and applied by police departments nationally.
Police departments in some cities are developing “Coffee with a Cop,” “Hike with a Cop,” or “Pizza with the Police” programs to provide citizens with the opportunity to meet their local police officers and personally get to know them.
The improved diversity of many police departments is taking place in cities throughout our nation so the workforce can properly reflect the evolving ethnic composition of their respective communities.
More police departments are requiring their police officers to wear and use body cameras so they can take instant video pictures of crime incidents. Citizens can also videotape such incidents on their cell phones for immediate transmission and dissemination.
Many police departments are increasingly holding “police-community forums” (PCF) to help educate their citizens about the services officers provide and to answer any questions the citizens may have about these services. Many of these programs are being provided annually and sometimes even more frequently.
Many police departments are requiring officers to use non-lethal weapons when they respond to selected crime scenes. The type of weapons they have available depends upon the type of crime of which is being responded. These police officer operational guidelines are usually called “use of force policies” (UFP).
School resource officers (SROs), only a few years ago, were primarily assigned to high schools. Now SROs are increasingly being assigned to all local public schools -- elementary, middle, as well as high schools. Students and teachers throughout a community personally benefit from such police service programs.
Police officers, typically SROs in public schools, are increasingly providing anti-drug educational programs and services to the students. Such programs, which are also sponsored by a school’s administration and its teachers, have been on the increase in recent years in public schools throughout Ameica.
Many police departments are also holding workshops for school officials, parents, and students on the use of social media so they can instruct and guide young students on the appropriate use of available internet resources. Some departments are even holding “social media awareness nights” (SMAN) to facilitate this educational process.
More and more police departments have “ride with a cop” programs to help educate citizens and students on the types of services provided to them by the police officers in their community.
More and more police departments are also holding a “citizens police academy” (CAP) to properly educate their citizens on the types of services provided in their community.
There is an increase in the number of neighborhood police officers (NPOs) who are assigned to work with citizens to help reduce crime in their city’s respective neighborhoods. The number of neighborhood associations in cities throughout the nation is on the increase, as well as the number of police officers assigned to work with them.
Police departments are increasingly forming neighborhood initiative units (NIU) so police officers can get to know the citizens they serve such as businesspersons, homeowners, and renters, in their neighborhoods. This program facilitates the formation of NIUs, which are similar to neighborhood associations in other communities.
There is an increasing number of police department neighborhood sub-stations in cities everywhere to help deal with and resolve neighborhood police issues and to work with local merchants and citizens to help accomplish this goal.
There is a trend to create or expand the number of “police explorer programs” (PEP) to help educate and train young students on police services. These are especially great programs for young people who are thinking about possibly joining a police department later in life.
Many police departments are holding annual “public safety festivals” (PSF) in municipal parks and open spaces to help educate their citizens and students on their police programs and services, as well as how they can access and use these services throughout the year.
There are more “police bike patrols” (PBP) and “police walking patrols” (PWP) in downtown neighborhood school areas in cities throughout the country. Such police services make police officers more visible to local merchants and citizens as well as commuters in their inner-city neighborhoods.
Police departments are increasingly working with their local housing authorities to ensure U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules and regulations which govern the use of Section 8 housing are being enforced. These rules preclude and can be used to force out any tenants who do not meet the rental standards under the Section 8 Housing Act.
Police department officials are enhancing their department’s working relationship with higher levels of government – counties, states, and the federal government. They are seeking police technical support and available police program grants when such programs and funding are available.
Some police departments have created “safe exchange zones” (SEZ) where citizens can pick up items which are purchased online from a stranger in the area. Many police departments are making portions of their parking lots available for this purpose, because police officers are present, parking lots are illuminated, and citizens and students feel safe during such pick-up processes.
These state-of-the-art best police department practices represent many new and evolving police-community services being developed and implemented by police departments in cities throughout America in recent years. Police chiefs, as well as their respective administrative staffs and their police officers, are continually working together to build an improved police-community network to assist them in relating to, educating, and receiving information from the citizens who receive those services. Their goal is to improve the services they provide.
Our nation’s many municipal law enforcement officials – chiefs of police, administrative staffs, and police officers – should be congratulated for their ongoing efforts to achieve these admirable police service goals in police departments throughout our nation’s local governments.
Roger L. Kemp, MPA, MBA, PhD, ICMA-CM, is a career city manager who has worked in and managed council-manager government cities in California, Connecticut, and New Jersey during his public service career. Dr. Kemp is a practitioner in residence at the University of New Haven and a distinguished adjunct professor at Golden Gate University. You may contact him at [email protected]