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Public Safety Column

The IPSA's Public Safety Column is an opportunity for our members and corporate sponsors to provide thought leadership articles about all topics facing public safety. 

The articles we publish are not necessarily the views of the IPSA, rather they are opinions shared by each contributor.

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  • 25 Aug 2022 10:35 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    Video interviews with T-Mobile leadership provide additional insight

    Access to mission critical data is essential for first responders and T-Mobile just announced an important development regarding data prioritization at the FBI National Academy Associates (FBI NAA) Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Although this conference is comprised of command-level state and local law enforcement personnel, the prioritization of public safety data on mobile devices will be game-changing for all first responders, not just police. 

    T-Mobile Sr. Vice President George Fischer spoke to conference attendees and announced that, effective immediately, first responder agencies who have voice priority and preemption as a result of their enrollment in the Wireless Priority Service (WPS), will also have priority for their data on smartphones, hotspots and tablets. And in a situation where a natural disaster or major incident may impact service, T-Mobile will provide network resources to them first. Similarly, if a first responder is using data in a low-coverage area, the network will automatically reallocate resources to help maintain that critical connection. A press release was issued the same day that Fischer made this announcement.

    T-Mobile is the first and only wireless provider to add data priority in collaboration with the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which oversees the WPS process. T-Mobile has been working closely with CISA to streamline the enrollment process for all first responder agency customers. As a result, data priority will now be automatic, and there is no fee or requirement for additional registration.

    While at the conference, Fischer did a short video interview during which he emphasized the importance of data prioritization for public safety. “When there’s a major incident, often towers or parts of other networks are down,” he said. “The ability to prioritize data for the first responder means they get the available bandwidth that’s out there and they can operate effectively when it counts the most.”

    Also at the FBI NAA conference was T-Mobile Vice President Dave Bezzant, who has been a key part of the collaborative effort with DHS/CISA and has strongly supported providing WPS enrollment assistance to first responders. Bezzant also participated in a short video interview during which he stressed the importance of prioritizing data for public safety. “We teamed up with the Department of Homeland Security and T-Mobile launched data priority, which is part of our Wireless Priority Services,” Bezzant explained. “Tablets, mobile device terminals, whatever form of data that first responders want to use throughout the United States, will have priority data and it does not de-prioritize on the back end. That’s especially important because it works on 5G.”

    Bezzant also provided some insight on T-Mobile Connecting Heroes and the reasoning behind the program’s ten-year commitment to provide free, subsidized, and low-cost smartphone connectivity and technology assistance to state and local first responder agencies. “We did research and we looked at where government institutions needed assistance,” he said. “Far too many times, we saw that there were first responders who did not have the proper equipment or the proper gear to be able to do their job. We want to make sure that every first responder does not have to compromise on budget and has access to the tools that they need to keep America safe.” 

    Forward-thinking public safety leaders across the country are recognizing that empowering front-line personnel with mobile devices provides increased operational efficiency, improved safety, and more effective community engagement. The sheer utility of a smartphone is a game changer for first responders and the return on investment is quickly realized, especially when agencies are part of the Connecting Heroes program.

    You can learn more about how T-Mobile for Government is helping public safety agencies improve operational effectiveness and the Connecting Heroes program designed just for first responders by visiting

    Coverage not available everywhere & may be impacted by emergencies; check your response area. Video streams in SD. Capable device required for 5G. See for devices, coverage, and plan details.


  • 07 Jul 2022 6:30 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Dale Stockton

    Natural disasters can devastate communities, causing life-threatening conditions and dramatically impacting the government agencies that are expected to respond. Whether conducting a rescue or coordinating a large-scale evacuation, communication services are essential. Accordingly, it is critical that first responders have the right partners by their sides, partners who have been tried and tested to deliver on the promise of reliable and trusted communications.

    Man-made emergencies and natural disasters are occurring more often than ever before, anywhere and at any time. And as technology has evolved, so has public safety’s dependency on LTE and 5G networks for mission critical services. In line with its demonstrated commitment to public safety, T-Mobile for Government continues to invest heavily in the resources and personnel that support our nation’s heroes – the first responders who protect and serve our communities.

    Emergency Response Team

    The T-Mobile Emergency Response Team (ERT) is committed to delivering on the promise of trusted, reliable connectivity for our government and critical lifeline partners during all phases of business operations, continuity of government, and emergency response efforts. The ERT is comprised of a national cross-functional team of professionals experienced in multiple aspects of public safety, homeland security, emergency management operations, and mission-based support. The team is available 24/7/365. ERT engages in all phases of the planning, response, and recovery cycle by:

    • Integrating into agency-specific planning, drills, and training exercises
    • Helping customers identify and implement technology strategies
    • Coordinating communication resources for disaster response
    • Facilitating situational awareness and information sharing
    • Fostering partnerships across government and industry

    ERT personnel have helped first responders handle thousands of emergency and non-emergency situations during the last 20 years, providing support for man-made and natural disasters, as well as national special security, field training exercises, and other public-safety driven events. ERT members regularly partner with agencies and provide solutions that help first responders regain control of situations in the field.

    Insight from ERT Members

    T-Mobile Business Development Manager Rodney Cooper is a long-time member of the ERT. Hecredits his career in the telecommunications industry – with over twenty years’ experience deploying technology, crafting public safety programs, and developing policy - for preparing him for his role on the ERT. “I joined the telecom industry just three months prior to 9/11,” Cooper said. “I immediately found my passion working in the field, helping solve technical challenges for our public safety community. It’s the one area where I knew I could contribute.”

    When a derecho (a tornado-like storm that moves in a straight line) struck central Iowa in August 2020, it caused massive devastation and loss of communications due to downed infrastructure. Three community resource centers designed to help recover after major disasters needed connectivity to further their mission of providing resources to residents who had been impacted by the storm. Cooper arranged for a SatCOLT (Cell on Light Truck with a satellite dish built into the vehicle) and several routers to be brought in that would provide LTE connectivity and access to the T-Mobile network.

    “We supported those three disaster recovery centers for nearly three weeks and provided the community much-needed connectivity,” said Cooper. “Once people had access to communications, they were able to talk to loved ones, file insurance claims, request assistance from FEMA, request assistance from the state, and do their online banking.”

    Casey Muilenburg is the ERT member responsible for FEMA Regions 9 (California, Nevada, and Arizona) and 10 (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho). He’s been an ERT member for more than ten years and holds multiple FEMA and ICS certifications. He’s also a veteran of both the US Marine Corps and the US Air Force.

    We’ve done hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, super bowls, even presidential events. Whether it’s a disaster or something planned, we want to be a company that provides the best communications solutions along with redundant and resilient services to customers nationwide,” Muilenburg said. “And we try to look beyond just the incident and consider other needs like those people at a shelter might have. We want them to be able to look at their phone and see they have T-Mobile service.”

    The McKenzie Fire in Oregon burned more than 173,000 acres in September 2020. After an area government agency reached out to T-Mobile requesting internet and cellular service support, Muilenburg worked to deploy a SatCOLT — particularly critical for a nearby medical facility — and coordinated 30 pre-lit devices for a community elementary school. “We set up a cellular bubble, established Wi-Fi, and provided handsets, including many for the medical facility,” Muilenburg said. “Schools were already struggling because of COVID and a local hotel opened its lobby for kids to use the Wi-Fi. The coordination between federal, state, local, and industry was just incredible. It was a powerful example of how we could come together to support the community.”

    Muilenburg was also involved in the ERT response to a wildfire that raged across the Lake Tahoe (California) area for more than two months during late 2021, destroying more than 220,000 acres, leveling more than a thousand structures, and decimating the small community of Grizzly Flats. “During a major evacuation, we were supporting the command post and there was an industry call where everyone was made aware of what different teams were doing,” Muilenburg explained. “We adjusted our cell sites to ensure evacuation routes were supported. Everything was moving very fast, so it was a challenge, and collaboration was critical. Again, an incredible example of different levels of government and industry effectively working together.”

    Both Muilenburg and Cooper have strong feelings about their ERT responsibilities. “When people can’t communicate, they feel lost. For ERT to come in and provide that temporary solution until the network is back online, it’s a great opportunity to serve,” explained Muilenburg.

    “When we talk about the mission of the T-Mobile ERT, that’s what it’s all about – we do what we do, because it’s the right thing to do. It’s simply a duty to our first responders, our communities, and the nation in whole,” Cooper said.

    24/7 ERT Hotline: 888-639-0020 and

    For more information on effective disaster planning strategies for public safety, check out the T-Mobile Emergency Response Team eBook.

    You can also learn more about how T-Mobile is helping public safety agencies improve operational effectiveness and the T-Mobile Connecting Heroes program designed just for first responders by visiting

    About the Author

    Dale Stockton is a 32-year-veteran of law enforcement, having worked in all areas of police operations and retiring as a police captain from Carlsbad, California. He taught criminal justice classes for more than 20 years and is the former Editor-in-Chief of Law Officer Magazine and Stockton is the founder of Below 100, an award-winning officer-safety initiative designed to reduce police line-of-duty deaths and has been involved in the presentation of the program across North America. Stockton is an accomplished technology practitioner and has managed major technology projects for public safety including personnel-locate devices, license plate recognition systems, and regional deployment of smartphones. 

  • 12 May 2022 8:00 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Dale Stockton

    Every year in May, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Technology Conference brings together public safety tech practitioners from across the country. This year, IACP Tech was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from May 24 through May 26. Attendance was approximately one thousand and the show provided a great mix of vendors with the latest tech innovations and workshops that clearly demonstrated the value of tech as a force multiplier.

    T-Mobile for Government was at the IACP Tech Conference and had a continual level of engagement with attendees. Many were interested in finding out more about the Connecting Heroes® program, a private-public partnership that is a ten-year commitment by T-Mobile to supply free, subsidized, and low-cost smartphone connectivity and technology assistance to state and local first responder agencies. Connecting Heroes has allowed many organizations to cost-effectively achieve full smartphone deployment to their sworn personnel.

    Joining T-Mobile at IACP Tech were two valued partners, Blueforce Development and Visual Labs. Mike Helfrich, the CEO for Blueforce, demonstrated the MOBILE Command Post in a Box that’s powered by T-Mobile. The unit is person-portable and is a turnkey solution that provides comms, sensor fusion, and a distributed common operating picture. It’s a powerful way to dramatically improve situational awareness during field operations. Mike was also a presenter in two workshops (see below).

    Visual Labs is an innovative organization known as the “body camera company that doesn’t make body cameras.” Visual Labs is actually a software company that has developed an effective way of using a smartphone as a body-worn camera, most often carried in a chest mount so that officers can operate hands-free. The smartphone remains fully capable of performing its traditional functions, providing incredible value and utility for agencies. Officer safety is improved by providing geolocation at an officer level. Bill Burleson, law enforcement liaison for Visual Labs provided demos and also participated in one of the workshops (see below).

    Workshops at IACP Technology Conference

    One of the benefits of attending IACP Tech is that there are always practitioner-focused workshops that provide insight to the many ways that agencies are effectively harnessing mobile technology. T-Mobile had a role in three of the workshops this year:

    Improving Efficiency and Community Engagement by Going Mobile

    This workshop was presented by Major Eric Schmitz of the Lenexa, Kansas Police Department. He demonstrated the benefits of issuing smartphones to all personnel and the synergy realized through effective integration with existing systems. The result is a connected officer with ready access to mission-essential information regardless of assignment. Using complementary technologies and applications as force multipliers, the smartphones are CAD-enabled, CJIS-compliant, and used for gathering evidence, managing body-worn cameras, and accessing CCTV devices and live drone feeds. The focus was on lessons learned and best practices. (Lenexa PD was also highlighted in a recent IPSA Webinar, A mobility-first approach provides powerful capabilities. An in-depth look at one agency’s operation.)

    A Look at What 5G Means for Public Safety

    Wireless connectivity facilitates real-time, effective communication and 5G is already opening new opportunities. Officer safety and effectiveness depend on fast, uninterrupted access to critical applications and data no matter the assignment -whether drone operation, tactical response, or search and rescue. 5G provides significantly improved data transfer speed and lower latency, delivering high volumes of data in near real-time and significantly improving situational awareness. Operational concepts like cross-sensor cueing and integration will be explained, and real use cases will be shared. Presenters for this workshop were John Mittmann, IT Manager, Post Falls, Idaho Police Department; Michael Helfrich, CEO, Blueforce Development; and Chief (ret) David Brown, Public Safety Advisor for T-Mobile.

    Going Mobile – Insight to Emerging Trends from Solution Providers

    Smartphones can serve as an effective force-multiplier, especially when paired with powerful applications that improve field capabilities and situational awareness. This workshop featured four representatives of proven mobile solution providers who presented powerful use cases and insight to emerging trends. Topics included smartphones replacing in-car computers, smartphones as body-worn cameras, a compact mobile command post, and ways to cost-effectively implement a mobile program. Presenters included Keith Redlin, Public Sector Innovation Leader for Samsung Electronics America; Bill Burleson, Law Enforcement Liaison, Visual Labs, Inc.; Michael Helfrich, CEO, Blueforce Development; and Assistant Chief (ret) Eric Olsen, Public Safety Advisor for T-Mobile.

    T-Mobile for Government at Fire Department Instructors Conference

    A month before the IACP Tech Conference, T-Mobile was at the Fire Department Instructors Conference, one of the world’s largest public safety tradeshows. Members of the T-Mobile Emergency Response Team were there, along with their ruggedized Jeep SAT COLT that has responded to dozens of major disasters. Blueforce Development provided demonstrations and another partner, Longan Vision, showcased its incredible helmet-mounted smart visor that uses augmenting reality to provide enhanced vision and information sharing abilities, allowing firefighters to see through smoke, locate victims, and find fire sources.

    T-Mobile for Government understands the importance of public safety operations and is absolutely committed to working with its partners to improve operational effectiveness and safety for first responders. Check them out at the following upcoming conferences: National Sheriff’s Association in Kansas City, FBI National Academy Associates in Cleveland, Association of Public Safety Communication Officials in Anaheim, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Dallas. Find out more at

  • 27 Apr 2022 11:54 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Dale Stockton

    Law enforcement agencies are increasingly embracing the concept of connected officers, made possible by smartphone technology and powerful mobile applications. With full deployment of smartphones to field personnel, agencies can effectively expand capabilities and provide officers with ready access to mission-critical voice and data, regardless of their assignment or proximity to a patrol vehicle.  

    Although the sheer utility of smartphones can provide immediate operational benefits, most agencies have limited budgets and for some, it may be difficult to allocate funding for a mobile program. Recognizing this challenge, Mike Sievert, the CEO of T-Mobile, announced in 2020 the launch of an ambitious and unparalleled public-private partnership known as Connecting Heroes. The program is a ten-year commitment by T-Mobile to supply free, subsidized, and low-cost smartphone connectivity and technology assistance to state and local first responder agencies. This has allowed many agencies to cost-effectively achieve full smartphone deployment to their sworn personnel. Following is an example of one department’s experience.

    Livingston County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Office

    Livingston County is a rural county in northwestern Missouri with a population of approximately 15,000 and covering an area of about 540 square miles. Livingston County Sheriff Steve Cox is a lifelong resident of the county and has served in law enforcement for 35 years. He oversees an agency with ten authorized deputy positions, three of which are currently vacant. With this level of staffing, Cox, who was elected sheriff in 2001, is frequently in the field serving papers or performing bailiff duties at the court.

    Cox said his agency deployed smartphones as a result of starting a body-worn camera program. While at a conference, Cox heard about Visual Labs, a software company that turns a smartphone into an effective body-worn camera (BWC). Cox was intrigued and learned the company had partnered with T-Mobile to provide a cost-effective BWC solution using a smartphone that was part of the Connecting Heroes program.

    “I couldn’t believe the price of it,” Cox said, “and I wanted to make sure it would fit our needs. Two deputies did some field testing with the Visual Labs unit and a body-worn camera from another vendor that had all the ‘bells and whistles.’

    ”The deputies preferred Visual Labs for the quality and the ease of use,” Cox said. “We talked to the county commission about funding the project and we got some help from some nice people, plus, Visual Labs worked with us to make it happen.”

    Cox said the reps from T-Mobile and Visual Labs helped bring everything together, and the smartphones – Samsung A52’s with Visual Labs software - were rolled out in August of 2021. “I think it’s awesome that they can partner together,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about them. Our whole department is happy.”

    The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) now has several months’ experience with using a smartphone as a chest-mounted BWC and the system has been well received by the deputies and the courts. Deputies can quickly categorize incidents and easily locate relevant video evidence.

    “I’ve been in court when officers from another agency have had difficulty locating video that’s needed in a case. It doesn’t sit well with the jury,” Cox said. “With our system [Visual Labs], I’ve actually had defense attorneys compliment our deputies and their presentation of evidence. It’s so easy to use and sharing with the prosecutors is very straightforward.”

    LCSO has realized so much operational benefit from the rollout of smartphones equipped as BWCs, the agency is planning to add in-car video cameras using Visual Labs. “They have a great system that provides two-camera capability [front-facing and rear-seat coverage]. It will feed to the same cloud system that the body-worn cameras utilize and that the deputies use to send videos to the prosecutor’s office,” Cox said. “And it’s really cost effective. Honestly, I don’t know why everyone in the state doesn’t have this.”

    Equipping deputies with smartphones has significantly improved his agency’s engagement with the citizens of Livingston County, according to Cox. “Deputies regularly reach out to witnesses or victims using their smartphones for follow-up, and it saves a lot of time,” he said. “And we’ve found that people are much more likely to answer because the number isn’t blocked [i.e., deputies are not calling from the law enforcement center].”

    Reasons for going mobile

    Smartphones provide a high level of utility to field officers, saving time and facilitating quick communications. Tasks like contacting the parents of a runaway juvenile or checking space availability at a homeless shelter can be accomplished quickly, rather than tying up radio time and going through a dispatcher. A picture of a wanted subject or missing child can be distributed immediately among officers and a photo is significantly more effective than a description broadcast over the radio. Smartphones can also be used to gather photo or video evidence, enable report dictation, support e-citations, manage body-worn cameras, and remotely access agency-controlled CCTV devices. In short, the smartphone can effectively replace many single-purpose devices and provide officers with capabilities and information access they would not otherwise have.

    Agency-owned over BYOD

    Some agencies have allowed or encouraged their officers to use their personal smartphones for work purposes, but this approach is not ideal in law enforcement. Questions quickly arise regarding evidence and privacy. And if an agency plans to let officers use their own smartphones to search criminal justice databases, additional measures must be taken to achieve compliance with the security policy of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) division, as well as the rules set by the relevant state’s CJIS Systems Agency. In fact, CJIS policy discourages agencies from relying on a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) approach, citing the costly compensating controls and the imposition of security restrictions on private devices (CJIS Policy Appendix G4).

    Deploying smartphones to field personnel offers clear operational benefits, but many agency leaders assume that agency-wide deployment would be cost-prohibitive, partly due to the ongoing wireless service fees (often cited as the reason for choosing BYOD). Now, agency leaders have reason to reevaluate their position and run the numbers. With a free wireless service option and substantial savings on a wide range of devices, the Connecting Heroes program, which applies only to department-owned devices, helps to overcome budget challenges and presents a new opportunity for agencies to gain connected-officer capability.

    If you would like to learn more about how other departments are using the smartphone as an effective force-multiplier, check out Connecting Law Enforcement, a case study of five agencies using the T-Mobile Connecting Heroes program. To find out more about emerging technologies that will leverage 5G wireless service to improve future public safety effectiveness, take a look at Transforming Public Safety with Wireless Technology. For more information on Visual Labs and how they’re working with T-Mobile to deliver body-worn camera functionality, check out the recent IPSA webinar, How Mobile Technology is Transforming Law Enforcement Operations.

    About the Author

    Dale Stockton is a 32-year-veteran of law enforcement, having worked in all areas of police operations and retiring as a police captain from Carlsbad, California. He taught criminal justice classes for more than 20 years and is the former Editor-in-Chief of Law Officer Magazine and Stockton is the founder of Below 100, an award-winning officer-safety initiative designed to reduce police line-of-duty deaths and has been involved in the presentation of the program across North America. Stockton is an accomplished technology practitioner and has managed major technology projects for public safety including personnel-locate devices, license plate recognition systems, and regional deployment of smartphones.

  • 18 Mar 2022 7:47 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Dale Stockton

    Ask any law enforcement leader to prioritize his or her responsibilities and it's virtually certain that officer safety and wellness will be at or near the top of the list. When an officer is seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, there is tremendous impact on the agency. And when an officer is lost to suicide, it’s devastating to the organization and lives are forever changed. Regardless of the cause, the physical, emotional, and financial consequences are incalculable. There is growing realization that leaders have an affirmative responsibility to equip and train their personnel to emotionally cope with the challenges of a job that society continues to redefine. Accordingly, command staff personnel around the country are taking steps to address this issue and, for many, smartphones are emerging as a powerful tool to improve both officer safety and officer wellness.

    Officer safety benefits of smartphones

    Smartphones provide incredible utility to field personnel, empowering them with real-time access to mission-critical and mission-essential information. Officers sometimes live or die based on the quality and timeliness of information, and smartphones ensure that all field personnel can be more situationally aware, regardless of their assignment or proximity to a patrol vehicle. Smartphones can provide geo-location at a person level, which can prove critical in foot pursuits or situations where an officer may be unable to communicate, and they can serve as a backup communication device to conventional radio systems. 

    Officer wellness and the role of smartphones

    Although officer safety has long been recognized as a basic tenet of the profession, the concept of officer wellness is relatively new, and is an effort to address the cumulative stress borne by those who stand in the gap for society. Unlike many professions, people coming into law enforcement commonly go through extensive screening, including physical exams, psychological testing, and in-depth background investigations. As a result, those entering police work generally exhibit a high level of resiliency. Nonetheless, the toll of ongoing exposure to physical and emotional trauma can prove overwhelming to many, resulting in career burnout, chemical dependency, and even suicide.  

    As agency leaders seek solutions, smartphones are proving to be a valuable tool by providing 24/7 access to helpful resources. The traditional approach for many agencies has long been to have some form of peer support, a system that relies on officers seeking help from other officers. Although this can be effective, it often falls short. There are several reasons for this, including limited resources, insufficient training, and an understandable reticence to seek help from a coworker. Smartphones are providing a powerful option.

    Dr. David Black is a psychologist who has worked with law enforcement for twenty years and is a widely recognized expert on officer wellness. He is the founder of Cordico, which developed a mobile app now being used by hundreds of police, fire, and EMS agencies across the country. Cordico allows first responders to use a smartphone to access resources that support mental and emotional well-being. Dr. Black readily acknowledges that the ubiquity and utility of smartphones have played a key role in providing this powerful wellness tool to first responders.

    “Mobile is great because you have it with you all the time and it’s allowed us to take all things needed for wellness, put it in their hands, and they can get to it 24/7,” said Black. “All these resources that were so difficult to access – a vetted therapist or a dedicated chaplain, or how to save your marriage - we’ve taken all of that and put it directly into the hands of first responders.”

    Black says that first responder wellness is an issue that every agency faces. “These people come in tough and ready to serve, they’re physically fit. Then we see them subjected to the stressors of the job and it just compounds. This [officer wellness] is important – it’s about the preservation of life.”

    Officer health: Smartphones can help  

    In addition to specialized applications like Cordico, smartphones provide officers with access to apps that can facilitate a healthier approach to life – both on the job and off. Many officers now use their smartphones to keep track of their daily steps, sometimes even comparing them with co-workers and working towards an activity goal that will ensure a baseline level of activity. Other apps can assist with getting sufficient rest, providing nutritional guidance (even tracking food intake), or suggesting the best alternative when choosing a fast-food menu item on the graveyard shift. Speaking of the graveyard shift, smartphones can be used to alert the user to a prolonged period of inactivity – such as sitting in a car for extended periods – and encourage a stretch or activity break.  

    T-Mobile’s commitment to public safety

    In May 2020, Mike Sievert, the CEO of T-Mobile, announced the launch of Connecting Heroes, an ambitious and unparalleled ten-year commitment to a public-private partnership that supplies free, subsidized, and low-cost smartphone connectivity and technology assistance to state and local first responders. Continuing that commitment to public safety, T-Mobile for Government proudly sponsored the IPSA webinar, Why Command Staff Needs to Prioritize Officer Safety and Wellness, presented by Nicholas Grego, the author of many wellness articles and the president and founder of C3 Education and Research, Inc. Everyone can view the recording here.

    About the Author

    Dale Stockton is a 32-year-veteran of law enforcement, having worked in all areas of police operations and retiring as a police captain from Carlsbad, California. He taught criminal justice classes for more than 20 years and is the former Editor-in-Chief of Law Officer Magazine and Stockton is the founder of Below 100, an award-winning officer-safety initiative designed to reduce police line-of-duty deaths and has been involved in the presentation of the program across North America. Stockton is an accomplished technology practitioner and has managed major technology projects for public safety including personnel-locate devices, license plate recognition systems, and regional deployment of smartphones. 

    Related Content

    Why Command Staff Needs to Prioritize Officer Safety and Wellness

  • 02 Mar 2022 7:55 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Dale Stockton

    Wireless connectivity facilitates fast, effective communication and 5G is where mobile networks are headed next. Few technologies have received as much attention as 5G, but we are just beginning to realize the ways that public safety is likely to benefit. Officer safety and effectiveness depend on fast, uninterrupted access to critical applications and data no matter the assignment, whether it’s a rapidly evolving tactical situation or a search and rescue operation during a natural disaster. With 5G, data transfer rates will significantly increase, and latency will be substantially reduced. This means high volumes of data can be delivered in near real-time and overall situational awareness will be expanded and improved significantly.

    Some examples of areas that are likely to utilize 5G include real-time video feeds for evolving critical incidents, facilitated emergency response based on timely assessment of vehicle location and routing (green wave), and live-streamed, on-demand, body-worn camera feeds during an emergency. Expansive single-pane-of-glass command centers will be able to display levels and quality of information that dramatically improve decision making.

    Making a difference with sensors

    Another area where 5G has great potential is in sensor utilization, and there is a unique aspect that merits consideration for public safety tech planners, especially within the context of smart cities. Orthogonal sensor cueing refers to a situation where one sensor tells a second sensor to execute an action or initiate a process. Conventional 4G transmissions can introduce a degree of latency during which a situation could change and make the action of the second sensor inconsequential. Imagine a ground sensor that detects vibration and notifies a pan/tilt/zoom camera to move to the affected area. With low-latency 5G, the subject is captured on video in near real-time and the image can be immediately reviewed (by a human or AI-assisted video analysis) for criteria such as carrying an object or being armed with a long gun. In this example, any significant degree of latency could result in missing potentially critical information. Suffice it to say that 5G will allow for a much wider deployment of integrated and intelligent sensor networks that will help public safety professionals operate proactively and mitigate risk.

    Important considerations regarding 5G  

    As public safety agencies consider the wide array of potential use cases, it’s instructive to understand the different frequency bands that comprise 5G. There are three general bands of 5G frequency - low, mid, and high. Unless you’re a communications engineer, this is an area that can be confusing and it’s important to not focus solely on the incredible data transfer rates made possible by the high-band frequencies of millimeter-wave (mmWave) transmissions. Although mmWave can deliver incredible speeds, it has limitations. It does not effectively penetrate structures or other physical objects such as glass or even trees, and it has very limited range. This means that the use of mmWave technology is most appropriate for situations like a large stadium where the density of mobile devices is extremely high or on an open street corner with very heavy pedestrian traffic.  

    At the other end of the 5G spectrum is low-band, also commonly known as the “coverage layer” because it is used to deploy substantial 5G coverage effectively across large areas. This is the approach used by T-Mobile to leverage the 600MHz spectrum nationwide and has resulted in the nation’s largest 5G network. A low-band cell site can cover hundreds of square miles. It’s also very effective at passing through buildings and is a practical and effective way to provide solid coverage to rural areas that previously lacked effective broadband coverage. Critical incidents can happen anywhere, including small rural communities. T-Mobile’s rollout of 5G to these underserved areas is commendable and will allow many agencies to effectively leverage cellular technology to improve operational capabilities.

    In between the high and low-band layers is, not surprisingly, the mid-band spectrum and it delivers long range for broad coverage. Mid-band offers a balance of speed, capacity, coverage, and penetration that’s especially suited for densely populated urban areas where connectivity demand is high. This is why mid-band has often been called the “sweet spot” spectrum and it is especially well suited for many public safety operations.

    T-Mobile’s high-capacity wireless network utilizes both mid-band 2.5 GHz and low-band 600 MHz frequencies to deliver broad reach with signals that can penetrate structures and provide data transfer rates that are substantially faster than 4G networks. The vast amount of spectrum and wider set of spectrum bands available to be stacked together are unique to 5G, allowing network flexibility and effective functionality in a variety of operational environments.

    The largest network advantage

    After the recent merger with Sprint, T-Mobile has a great variety of spectrum across all three bands, with significant holdings in the low- and mid-bands needed to deliver 5G far and wide. These are the same 5G bands that will be most beneficial to public safety. The potential is clear: first responder agencies will have the opportunity to expand operational capabilities and improve overall information access and exchange. Although it won’t occur overnight, many areas of public safety will be impacted in a positive way and it’s likely that 5G will be transformational, with new capabilities emerging as agencies begin to leverage opportunities made possible by this new generation of wireless networks.

    You can learn more about how public safety agencies are improving operational effectiveness and the T-Mobile Connecting Heroes program designed just for first responders by visiting the T-Mobile for Government web site.

    About the Author

    Dale Stockton is a 32-year-veteran of law enforcement, having worked in all areas of police operations and retiring as a police captain from Carlsbad, California. He taught criminal justice classes for more than 20 years and is the former Editor-in-Chief of Law Officer Magazine and Stockton is the founder of Below 100, an award-winning officer-safety initiative designed to reduce police line-of-duty deaths and has been involved in the presentation of the program across North America. Stockton is an accomplished technology practitioner and has managed major technology projects for public safety including personnel-locate devices, license plate recognition systems, and regional deployment of smartphones.  

  • 22 Feb 2022 6:11 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Sarah Guenette, IPSA Mental Health and Wellness Committee Member and IPSA Mental Health Section Member

    Being constantly aware of surroundings can save a first responder’s life. When going in to stressful and often dangerous situations it’s necessary in order to protect themselves and others from harm and to enable them to quickly assess a situation so that they can respond to it quickly. This ability is reinforced through regular training and recertifications and by first responder culture. It is imbedded in the minds of responders that one mistake, one misperception could mean the difference between life and death for them and others.

    While this ability can be integral to a responder’s safety, it can also have negative effects over time, particularly if the first responder finds themselves in a continued heightened state even when not on duty. Hypervigilance in and of itself can be lifesaving, but can also have negative consequences to health and quality of life through the continual stress its cycles impose on the mind and the body.

    Hypervigilance is “the necessary manner of viewing the world from a threat-based perspective, having the mindset to see the events unfolding as potentially hazardous”. When any first responder steps from their vehicle into an unknown situation they must approach it with this mindset and they must go through their own safety protocols in their minds. Most experienced responders will automatically shift into this mode and don’t even have to consciously think about it anymore, they automatically stand in a certain place, take a certain stance or keep equipment close that they think they may need. Every situation is dangerous, potentially lethal, until proven otherwise.

    Hypervigilance is rooted in biology

    Every living being is driven to fight for its own survival. The brain is never more tuned in than when it perceives a threat and has to respond. It sends out signals to the body to prepare it for possible fight, flight or freeze. This process is completed subconsciously and faster than any of us can recognize, the brain takes care of it for us. In times of threat the brain will send signals to the body triggering certain physical reactions including changes in pulse, breathing rate, temperature and various other functions such as blood pressure. Most people have felt this when something scares them, even if it’s just a scene that makes you jump in a scary movie. These physical changes allow the body to access heightened survival techniques such as increased vision, increased hearing, faster reaction time and energy to be used to fight for survival if necessary. 

    Most people have experienced this reaction to something that is frightening, but first responders not only experience this during times of danger, but, through their training, they consciously trigger this when entering an unknown situation in order to be alert to threats. Given the fact that this heightened state has such a big impact on biological functioning, it is easy to see how it could have an effect on the psychological and physical health of first responders over time as they enter this state daily, if not multiple times a day. Sometimes the body loses the ability to return to the state it was in before the appearance of the possible threat, the flight/fight/freeze state and its inherent biological side effects remain. This can lead to post traumatic stress disorder which requires more in-depth treatment. This article is in relation to the day to day managing of hypervigilance that is not at the level of PTSD.

    Managing hypervigilance   

    The challenge with addressing hypervigilance in first responders is that it cannot be eliminated, nor should it be. It is necessary not only for them to protect themselves, but also for them to protect others. Agencies can’t simply stop emphasizing hypervigilance in training exercises, it needs to be so embedded in the first responder’s reaction process that they don’t even have to think about. However, prolonged hypervigilance and its accompanying side effects can affect health and relationships. It becomes the lens through which first responders view the world, they are trained to see potential threat in every situation and can’t just “switch that off”. Since this cannot be eliminated, the key to combatting the effects of long-term hypervigilance is for first responders, agencies and first responder families to increase understanding of it.

    There is a “lower phase” of the hypervigilance cycle which kicks in usually after the first responder goes off duty and this is the phase that has the most impact on relationships. After being in a heightened state while on duty, the first responder can often slip into exhaustion, apathy, detachment and isolation when at home. Over time the body can find it challenging to return to a healthy median level of arousal when off duty and tends to exist only in the two extremes of highly vigilant and indifferent.

    If left alone the body will return to a state of balance. If the first responder allows themselves time to rest and interact with their loved ones, the symptoms of the counter effect of hyper vigilance will be alleviated within about 18 to 24 hours. The first responder needs to be aware of this and allow themselves a healthy amount of time in order to recover.

    However, some are either uncomfortable staying in that part of the recovery process or are eager to get back into the excitement and energized world that they experience at work. This is something that junior first responders are particularly prone to as the job roles are very exciting when you are new to them. But it is important to set a healthy recovery routine early in a career so that it can be maintained. If not, it can lead to broken relationships and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

    Dr Kevin Gilmartin has identified the following symptoms that first responders and their loved ones should be aware of as they indicate that hyper vigilance is not being managed well:

    • The desire for social isolation at home
    • Unwillingness to engage in conversations/activities that aren’t work related
    • Reduced interaction with non-work friends
    • Procrastination in decision making that is not related to work
    • Infidelity
    • Non-involvement in children's needs and activities
    • Loss of interest in hobbies or recreational activities

    These can all lead to the first responder eliminating anything not job related from their lives and that is not healthy. It is important for them to have balanced interests and social circles in order to manage hyper vigilance in a healthy way.

    Agencies should ensure that they are training first responders not only in how to be hypervigilant, but also how to return to a healthy state afterwards. They should also strive to ensure that responders have an adequate time to recover prior to having to return to work. This can of course be a challenge with issues such as staffing, but will promote longer term health and morale for members. This should not just be a focus for new members, but training and awareness should be promoted throughout a responder’s career so that hypervigilance doesn’t wear them down over time.

    Families and loved ones also need to be educated on what is going on and what the officer needs as support during that time after work when their body is returning to a healthy state. Loved ones can be supportive and encouraging in promoting balanced interests and hobbies.

    Tips to overcome the negative effects of hypervigilance:

    • Exercise can relax the body and the mind and can counteract the effects of the adrenalin rush brought about by hypervigilance.
    • Maintain non work social circles. This allows for the first responder to enter into conversations and activities that are not directly related to their work and allows them to detach.
    • Stay involved in a variety of activities and hobbies that are relaxing and generate positive energy. This can help alleviate hypervigilance and can also help balance out the cynicism about the world that long serving first responders can sometimes develop.
    • Practice good time management and book beneficial activities ahead of time and stick to that schedule even if the first responder doesn’t feel like it or have the energy. It will be beneficial in the long term.

    About the Author

    Sarah Guenette, MA, spent over 16 years working in the public safety field. Sarah has a background in   9-1-1 and dispatch spending over 10 years working in these roles in the city of Calgary. She ended her career there overseeing the Learning and Development section for 9-1-1 and Bylaw Services. This included training, health and safety and quality improvement.  She implemented and oversaw the Peer Support team for these groups for over 8 years. Sarah is passionate about creating and maintaining a healthy workplace for public safety members. She is also the proud wife of a Calgary Police Service officer so is focused on what loved ones and family can do to support first responders.

  • 25 Jan 2022 8:43 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Gregory L. Walterhouse, Associate Teaching Professor, Bowling Green State University

    What is benchmarking?

    Simply stated, benchmarking are points of reference from which measurement are made. There are several types of benchmarking, the first being corporate style benchmarking, predicated on the belief that superior results are the product of best practices that can be emulated from others. The second type is visioning initiatives whereby a vision is established leading to the creation of results-oriented targets. Visioning initiatives are like strategic planning. The third type of benchmarking, and the focus for this article is the comparison of performance statistics. In this type of benchmarking, an organization compares their own statistics to either national standards or data sets from other similar organizations.

    Benchmarking can identify top performers within a data set and highlight relative strengths and weaknesses within an organization but does not identify best practices. However, there are some challenges to benchmarking. Relative to the public sector, the inconsistency in the ways that municipalities measure and report their data can make benchmarking challenging. Another challenge is turning benchmarking data into actions to improve service. This will require data-driven decision-making and transitioning from traditional models of service delivery to more innovative models, in other words, change, which is often difficult for some, particularly in the fire service to embrace.  

    Another challenge is the interpretation of data. For example, a higher cost per incident rather than a lower cost may seem counter intuitive. Nevertheless, a city that has fewer incidents will have a higher cost, perhaps because prevention efforts receive more funding indicating a more efficient use of available funds. One report suggests that comparing one fire department to another may not be the most accurate metric due to different demographics and that comparing response service to prevention service within the same agency may provide a more accurate measure of efficiency.

    Benefits of benchmarking

    Several benefits can result from benchmarking. First, benchmarking helps develop standardized metrics against which a department can evaluate their performance. Second, benchmarking assists in developing performance expectations for the department. Next, benchmarking helps establish a culture of continuous improvement for fire departments and provides a basis for department administrators to identifying and correct performance gaps. As elected officials are becoming more data driven, benchmarking can provide the data needed to support budget and staffing requests, equipment purchases, and new or expanded programs. Benchmarking is also a useful tool when developing strategic plans.

    National standards

    The National Fire Protection Association “Standard (1710) for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments” provides national consensus standard metrics that departments can use for self-evaluation.

    NFPA “Standard (1720) for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments” provides similar metrics for volunteer and on-call fire departments. Some examples of standardized metrics contained within the NFPA standards include alarm processing time, turnout time, travel time, total response time, staffing and more.

    Another of several examples is NPFA “Standard (1410) on Training for Initial Emergency Scene Operations.” This standard provides required performance metrics for deploying hand lines, master streams, automatic sprinkler system support, and truck company operations. Bearing in mind that national standards are minimum standards of performance, comparing a department’s performance to similarly situated departments at the regional, state or national level may be more informative regarding efficiency of operations.


    Compiling a data set for comparison is complex, as well as time, and labor-intensive. Employing an existing data set will simplify the process of benchmarking.

    One source is the ICMA that offers free open access benchmarking that is a software-neutral data set with over 20,000 data points that facilitates comparing local government performance metrics. ICMA’s benchmarking service focuses on key performance indicators, with corresponding definitions. Some examples of operational performance indicators for fire and EMS include total BLS and ALS responses, average response times, total expenditures for fire/EMS personnel and operations, percentage of residential fires confined to object or room of origin, and percentage of cardiac patients with pulsatile rhythms upon delivery to a hospital.

    Demographic performance indicators include, residential population served, square miles served, median household income, percentage of population below the poverty level, percentage of vacant housing units, respondent ratings of fire service quality and more.

    There are also performance indicators related to fire service human resources including, hours paid including overtime, sick leave hours used, turnover rates, and worker’s compensation days lost due to injury. 

    Though less focused compared to the ICMA data set, the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) at the U.S. Fire Administration offers a free data set of more than two million fire incidents annually. The data sets are available on CD by request and include categories of all incidents, fire incidents and fire and hazardous materials incidents. Though the data will facilitate a comparison to national data, it is not conducive to making comparisons to individual departments. Users of this data must also be aware that participation in NFIRS is not mandatory and therefore is not a complete census of all fire incidents and NFIRS is prone to reporting errors, though the National Fire Data Center performs internal quality checks to identify and correct errors. 

    Third parties

    With many departments struggling with reduce staffing and budget constraints, finding the time and resources to perform benchmarking can be challenging.

    One solution is a benchmarking analysis performed by a third party. The Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI), which is the consulting arm of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has teamed with ISO to produce the Community Fire Service Performance Review for Structural Fire Protection. This is a peer-review benchmark analysis that fire departments and municipalities can use to make comparisons. The review compares a department to 15-25 accurate peer organizations along with regional and national averages based on 32 data points. ISO compiles the points into four main sections: emergency communications, fire services, water systems, and community risk reduction. The focus of this third party benchmarking analysis is narrower in scope focusing on how departments can improve their ISO Public Protection Classification rating. 


    In summary, benchmarking is important to the fire service. As data is increasingly driving decision-making in the public sector, comparing fire service delivery to both national standards and similarly situated municipalities is critical to providing cost effective and efficient service. Benchmarking identifies areas of needed improvement, strengths, and helps restore trust in government by using data to make decisions and uncovering innovative ways to elevate performance. Benchmarking also provides information that may lead to mid-course adjustments or terminating programs that are not producing intended outcomes. Data-driven decision-making leads to greater accountability and transparency, encourages continuous improvement and improves consistency.

    About the Author

    Greg Walterhouse is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Fire Administration and master’s in public administration programs at Bowling Green State University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Oakland University, a Master’s degree in Legal Studies from the University of Illinois, a Master’s degree in Management from Central Michigan University, and a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from Bowling Green State University. Before joining BGSU, Greg had over 35 years’ experience in various aspects of public safety with 18 years in upper management. The author may be contacted at

  • 25 Jan 2022 8:17 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Dale Stockton

    Public safety agencies across the country are benefiting from mobile technologies, most often smartphones and tablets, because they result in connected first responders. In law enforcement, that means officers who can better engage with the community because they’re no longer tethered to a computer mounted in a patrol car. In fire services, going mobile allows for better command and control, and utilization of powerful situational awareness tools. For EMS, mobile technology dramatically improves patient care with quicker access to essential patient information and near-instant transmission of vital signs.

    The Launch of Connecting Heroes

    In May 2020, Mike Sievert, the CEO of T-Mobile, announced the launch of Connecting Heroes, an ambitious and unparalleled ten-year commitment to support public safety agencies by providing free unlimited talk, text and smartphone data to local, county, state, and tribal agencies that provide police, fire, EMS, or PSAP services. In a special introductory video, Sievert emphasized Connecting Heroes is not a temporary promotion and will remain available to first responder agencies for ten years. Even though agencies provide (or acquire) the mobile devices, the savings have proven to be substantial. There are also plans that are discounted and provide free 5G devices. Sievert estimates the budgetary savings for emergency service agencies that use Connecting Heroes could amount to $7.7 billion over the duration of the program.

    The Public Safety Team

    Connecting Heroes was designed to help agencies make the most of their technology budgets, acquiring mobile capabilities that serve as true force multipliers. And T-Mobile for Government has brought in a team of veteran public safety leaders as a resource to help departments effectively engage. Craig Martinez, a retired Utah police chief, is the Senior Public Safety Administrator for T-Mobile and coordinates four other public safety veterans, all of whom have more than 30 years of public safety experience. Members of the team include Amy Sinnott, who served in Florida law enforcement; Eric Olsen, who worked for NYPD and New York State University Police; David Brown, a retired Kansas police chief; and Gary Giles, who served with law enforcement agencies in Texas and Utah. 

    “It’s an honor to work with these professionals,” said Martinez. “The depth and breadth of their experience is incredible and they’re helping agencies to participate in the Connecting Heroes program. It’s a gamechanger for public safety and makes it possible for more departments to leverage mobile technology and become more effective.”

    Connecting Heroes Helps Two Agencies Go Mobile

    Some of the biggest challenges in delivering public safety services can be found in rural areas where first responders are often challenged with limited cellular coverage. Such was the case with the Hampton Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department  in Tennessee.  Frustrated by the limited coverage of their previous carrier,  the agency contacted T-Mobile about trying out devices and services after hearing about Connecting Heroes. The coverage was found to be solid, making it possible for nearly 40 firefighters to stay connected to each other and their headquarters in areas they previously considered dead zones. Each firetruck is now equipped with a T-Mobile-powered smartphone that runs ATAK (Android Team Awareness Kit). Operating on the T-Mobile 5G network, ATAK allows firefighters to locate each other easily and have real-time access to critical data like elevation tools, heat maps, and routing options. “The T-Mobile Connecting Heroes program is amazing, knowing that there’s a company out there looking to have your back – that’s huge for us,” said Firefighter Amos Halava.

    Like many small agencies, the Bay Minette Police Department in Alabama must carefully manage their budget to ensure the basics get covered. BMPD worked with a non-profit foundation, Spirit of Blue, to acquire smartphones and then used the Connecting Heroes program to obtain free unlimited talk, text, and data on those devices. BMPD Chief Al Tolbert says that the idea of having officers equipped with smartphones was previously unachievable but now officers are using the phones extensively, including managing their body worn cameras. He has been especially pleased with the operational benefit for the school resource officers (SROs). "Four of the phones went to SROs," Tolbert explained. "Previously, we were unable to get cell coverage inside the school buildings due to the type of construction – the signal just wasn't getting through. The smartphones running on T-Mobile's network are working really well within the school properties and buildings and this allows dispatch to contact the officers with ease,” he said.

    The Largest 5G Network

    A month before the announcement of Connecting Heroes, T-Mobile finalized its merger with Sprint, resulting in an opportunity to combine cellular networks. It’s now America’s largest 5G network, offering robust performance and supporting capabilities like real-time sensor notification, facilitated emergency vehicle response through congested traffic, and the potential for autonomous drone operation. T-Mobile for Government also understands the importance of a network that’s reliable and offers priority access and preemption to any first responder agency that has qualified for the Wireless Priority Service administered by the Department of Homeland Security.


    Going mobile dramatically expands capabilities and improves efficiency for public safety agencies. T-Mobile’s commitment to support first responders is clearly demonstrated by the Connecting Heroes program and the personnel dedicated to this effort. You can learn much more about how to enroll in the Connecting Heroes program and discover how other agencies are improving operational effectiveness by visiting the T-Mobile for Government web site.

    About the Author

    Dale Stockton is a 32-year-veteran of law enforcement, having worked in all areas of police operations and retiring as a police captain from Carlsbad, California. He taught criminal justice classes for more than 20 years and is the former Editor-in-Chief of Law Officer Magazine and Stockton is the founder of Below 100, an award-winning officer-safety initiative designed to reduce police line-of-duty deaths and has been involved in the presentation of the program across North America. Stockton is an accomplished technology practitioner and has managed major technology projects for public safety including personnel-locate devices and license plate recognition systems.

  • 25 Jan 2022 8:11 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Juan Pereira Volunteer First Responder with Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support, IPSA member

    Studies document that women in law enforcement continually face a variety of obstacles, including discrimination, sexual harassment and negative attitudes by their peers. Disparities continue to reveal this despite a long history of positive reforms in law enforcement.

    These imbalances delay the long-existing efforts toward positive reforms in policing. Even though minor challenges still exist, Canadian law enforcement has committed efforts to bridge gender disparities, thus offering good grounds for a benchmark.

    Recent reports and commentaries on women reveal a nationwide outcry over disproportionate enjoyment of freedom, and often, overt gender and racial discrimination galvanize demands for more committed efforts towards police reform. 

    Below are three specific challenges facing women in today’s police force.

    1. Gender disparities: Gender disparities in law enforcement result from socially prescribed norms of police personality, male officer resistance, discrimination and job promotion, and advancement. These attitudes develop during everyday interactions. Society generally perceives law enforcement as a gendered occupation or a complete form of hegemonic masculinity because the occupation demands physicality, an aggressive and violent character, competitiveness, heterosexual orientations (such as patriarchal views and terminology on women), and strict and clear in-group/outgroup variations. These behavioral norms and cultural expectations end up discriminating against women entering law enforcement. They make it difficult and stressful for women’s full integration. The dominance of inferior attitudes about women and gender stereotypes in the policing occupation further hamstrings the profession’s ability to hire, retain, and promote women officers.

    2. Unequal representation in the workforce: The first time a major American police department had a woman chief was in 1964 when the Portland (Oregon) Police Bureau appointed Chief Penny Harrington. Throughout her career, Harrington, who found only twelve women officers in the department, faced widespread challenges, including sexism and blatant harassment. Hundreds of her gender discrimination lawsuits and complaints in Portland, Oregon, initiated changes significantly. The Rodney King beating of 1991 in Los Angeles resulted in the founding of the Cristopher Commission. The Commission largely reformed the Los Angeles Police Department, including a proposal to hire 50 percent women in the department that increased women's representation for several years.

      Legislation such as the Federal Equal Employment Law, Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, Justice System Improvement Act of 1978, and Equal Employment Opportunity Act have forced many employers to adopt affirmative action measures to create equal employment
      opportunities for both women and marginalized groups in policing. As a result, the number of women and racial minorities employed in the police force has improved. Nevertheless, scholars continue to regard U.S. law enforcement as one of the most gendered occupations in modern society. The percentage of sworn women officers (13 percent of the law enforcement) is way under the general labor force. Policing organizations not only underrepresent women; they are also underutilizing them. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) reports that despite women making up more than the U.S. population, the U.S. justice system usually deploys most of the 13 percent women officers in urban areas, large law enforcement agencies and communities with high levels of ethnic and racial diversities. Certain populations tend to lack trust in law enforcement because they feel a lack of equal representation in the system.

    3. Diverse community settings: The behaviors and interactions that occur within the canteen culture also promote expressive talk encouraging racist and sexist canteen (backstage interaction area) banters. In a highly masculine, white, heterosexual police force, these behaviors contribute to differential treatment of women officers. These officers continue to re-express the attitudes held toward the formerly recognized marginalized groups, thus forming the interior culture. Sexist and racist behaviors within the informal police interactions develop two sets of dominant perspectives. On the one hand, the heterosexual, male officers resent institutionalized diversity. On the other hand, the women, minority, ethnic, lesbian, and gay officers hold a persistent imperious, male, heterosexist view. These deeply rooted perspectives and practices continually influence police organization and culture.

    Two possible interventions

    1. Understanding of the context of police work: Various scholars on diversity in law enforcement have suggested possible interventions to decrease barriers and challenges women encounter in policing. On December 3rd and 4th, 2018, approximately 100 women researchers attended the Research Summit on Women in Policing in Washington, D.C., and suggested, among other measures, support networks, sponsorship, mentoring, and enforcing and strengthening harassment policies. The Women’s Leadership Academy in Newark, New Jersey is successful support to enable women applicants to meet academic and physical fitness requirements while enhancing peer networks of women officers supporting individuals’ success. Building networks increase peer support and mentorships, which have been essential in retaining women, African American, and Hispanic officers in Nevada, Las Vegas, and the Southeastern U.S .within law enforcement.

    2. Policy development: Research repeatedly identifies Canada as an example of a country committed to removing gender barriers in policing. The country has introduced affirmative action plans which establish positive discrimination by providing special opportunities from minority groups. For example, the Equity Employment Act of Canada mandates employers to proactively seek minority candidates (including women, aboriginals, and visible minorities) as a measure to increase workplace diversity. The employment equity and affirmative actions that target employment equity by recruitment of visible minority candidates have increased diversity in law enforcement.


    Women entering policing services are at a disadvantage because of their gender and racial or ethnic backgrounds. Studies have shown that the greatest barriers for women in law enforcement are the attitudes and perceptions of women. Law enforcement agencies establish policies aiming at increasing the number of women in policing while overlooking the longstanding barriers remaining within. As the two groups have learned throughout history, change is a long process that needs persistence and full success needs persistence. More importantly, women are vital assets to any law enforcement organization and through dedication and hard work to recognize their contributions, they need to receive equal respect as their male counterparts do. Therefore, women ought to recognize and acknowledge the significant victories in their endeavor to realize fairness and recognition within the law enforcement profession.

    About the Author

    Juan Pereira received his education background in Police Foundations from Centennial College. He is a student at Wilfred Laurier University working on his BA in Criminology and Policing he hopes to complete his bachelor’s and to dive into his Master of Public Safety with Wilfred Laurier University. He has seven years of experience as a volunteer first responder in various public safety organization. He has also been a volunteer with Police Organizations and Crime Stopper Programs. He also has taken on Youth Coordinator Positions and Youth mentorships with other organizations. Email him at

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