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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 2017 11:49 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Tom Joyce, Vigilant Solutions, an official IPSA Supporter

    Recently, a mainstream media outlet reported that a small town in Pennsylvania is stunned about the deaths of four men at the hands of a monster. I, however, am not. I can also venture to guess that no other law enforcement officer, active or retired, is either. At least I hope not. My experience with working on thousands of criminal cases has led me to this simple but profound truth: Anything can happen, anytime and anywhere. In fact, the mainstream headline about the possible tragedy in Pennsylvania reminded me of three other cases: one in bucolic Spring Lake, NJ, and two other related cases in my adopted hometown of Charlottesville, VA.

    In October 2001, a month after 9/11, the Police Chief of Spring Lake, New Jersey came to my office wanting to visit Ground Zero. My boss and I obliged, hopped aboard two ATVs with hard hats affixed, and drove to the site. That experience was raw and visceral, even for me having been a first responder on 9/11, and working the World Trade Center site on numerous occasions over the past month. But the relevant part for this blog happened afterwards. While sharing goodbyes, I offered, as any good cop would, to help the Chief of Spring Lake in the future in the event one of our “regular customers” visited this sleepy Jersey shore town. He laughed and said, “Tom, clearly you don’t know where Spring Lake, NJ is. I don’t think I will be needing your help anytime soon.”

    Review of abduction cases

    A month later in November 2001, Anna Cardlefe was abducted off her front lawn in Spring Lake. The irony was her family relocated to Spring Lake after they were displaced from Battery Park City in New York after the World Trade Center towers fell and the debris and dust forced them out. Fortunately, Anna was recovered safely about a week later. But I called the Chief after the dust in Spring Lake had settled and asked him, “Chief, will you ever say never again?” His response predictably, “Hell, no!”

    In the summer of 2011, I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, home of Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia (UVa), and tens of thousands of smart, ambitious young adults. Prior to relocating here, I closely followed the case of Morgan Harrington, a Virginia Tech student who disappeared from UVa’s John Paul Jones Arena after a Metallica concert on October 17, 2009. Being a former cold case investigator, the facts of this case intrigued me a lot. Instinct told me this perpetrator had likely offended previously and, if not caught, would strike again. In just a tad over 5 years, that somber prediction came true when Hannah Graham, a British citizen studying at UVa, crossed paths with Jesse Leroy Matthew when she was out socializing one night. Sadly, Hannah would never be seen again.

    Jesse Leroy Matthew would eventually answer for the murder of Hannah, Morgan and others. The community was relieved that he was brought to justice and put behind bars, but what really struck me was the denial that this could happen in this progressive, historic and affluent town. I heard comments such as “These things don’t happen here, and the fact that something like this actually did means it could never happen again.”

    To add insult to injury, I enjoyed a personal relationship with the Police Chief who, without specificity, asked for crime fighting technology and was denied. That technology may not have saved Hannah or Morgan, but I know from the investigation it would have generated a significant lead. Thankfully, the Charlottesville Police Department, Albemarle County Police Department and the Virginia State Police identified Jesse Leroy Matthew soon after Hannah was killed.

    So, I repeat: Anything can happen, anytime and anywhere. Municipalities and agencies not thinking this way are sticking their heads in the sand. Communities must also accept this truth, and push for and support funding for agencies so that they can be armed with the best crime prevention and investigation tools. I am not suggesting that every agency must deploy the most sophisticated technology at all times, but please don’t be in denial.

    About the Author

    Tom Joyce is a retired member of the NYPD in the rank of Lieutenant Commander of Detectives. He commanded the NYPD Cold Case Squad upon his retirement and additionally held many other roles within the detective and organized crime bureaus. Tom often lectures on various subject matters relating to Homicide Investigations and has published numerous articles on criminal investigations. Tom is currently a member of the International Homicide Investigators Association’s Advisory Board.

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  • 21 Aug 2017 2:48 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Columbia Southern University, an official IPSA Supporter

    For men and women in the fire service, leadership is a necessary skill to save lives—from fellow firefighters to citizens to those facing deadly flames. For firefighters, planning and careful decision-making is a regular part the job, however, there are a lot of times when firefighters must make critical decisions very quickly.  

    For firefighters seeking to advance in their careers, academic and workshop training is necessary to becoming a strong leader and reliable fire officer. This can be done in many ways, particularly as it applies to the subject matter or job position or the individual seeking to learn. Whether it’s classes in fire science, organizational leadership or business administration, firefighters can learn a great deal about what it takes to make a department function smoothly.

    Administrative leadership functions

    A formal education can also teach students the aspects of work that they may not have been exposed to along the way including budgeting, evaluations, metrics, scheduling and staffing. These are just a few of the behind-the-scene responsibilities for firefighter leaders. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association’s 4th Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service staffing is a vital area of concern.  

    Workshops and training opportunities such as webinars or specialized seminars are areas of academic learning that allow firefighters to commit to learning a concentrated topic. These classes are handy for students who already have a fire science or appropriate academic degree but are interested in becoming leaders. One popular workshop is Columbia Southern University's Company Officer Academy.  

    “What we do is provide the attendee with the knowledge and information to not just lead better, but to be a better company officer through real life and values-based leadership training,” said Rick Lasky, veteran fire chief and author who is also one of the instructors for the academy.

    Lasky, along with John Salka, also a retired fire chief and author, guide attendees through various discussions of some of the key issues in leading a firehouse. From performance evaluations to disciplining to mentoring, the academy covers a broad range of topics to help fire officers become effective leaders.

    In addition, the CSU also features online continuing education classes that offer CEUs to help aspiring fire leaders gain valuable information. Workshop/training opportunities such as this provide ways for firefighters to learn about leadership from experienced officers. Combined with academic degree instruction, firefighters can gain the necessary skills and knowledge to become a successful fire officer.

    About Columbia Southern University

    One of the nation’s pioneer online universities, Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more. Members of the IPSA receive a 10% Tuition Discount to Columbia Southern University.


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  • 06 Aug 2017 6:20 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Lexipol, an IPSA Supporter

    The use of unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones, in public safety continues to grow. According to the Center for the Study of the Drone in an April 2017 report, at least 347 state and local policy, sheriff, fire and emergency units have acquired drones, within the last year. Several factors are driving drone use, including decreased cost and increased availability, as well as the issuance of long-awaited FAA guidelines governing public safety drone use.

    But drone use is also a thorny issue, bringing with it privacy, policy and safety concerns. Law enforcement agencies must not only ensure their officers are properly trained, but also that they are complying with federal and state guidelines.

    Having solid policy and procedure in place to guide law enforcement drone use is key to ensuring their legal, safe use. Here are five key policy areas to consider.

    1. Permitted uses

    It’s not difficult to imagine the wide range of benefits drones can provide in law enforcement. According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures, law enforcement drone uses include:

    • Evidence collection and surveillance
    • Photographing traffic crash scenes
    • Monitoring correctional facilities
    • Tracking prison escapees
    • Crowd control and monitoring dangerous situations

    Other documented uses include:

    • Assistance in serving warrants
    • Assistance in emergencies and natural disasters
    • Assessing an area/person before committing personnel to a search or entry
    • Mapping outdoor crime scenes
    • Locating stolen property
    • Detecting explosive ordnance
    • Response to hostage incidents or armed/barricaded subject calls

    In Minnesota, one agency equipped its drone with a system that can track people with Alzheimer’s, autism or other related conditions. The individuals wear transmitters that are activated if they wander, and the drone can help quickly locate them.

    2. Prohibited uses

    But for all their potential, drones are also subject to scrutiny from privacy advocates and state legislatures, creating a growing list of prohibited uses that your agency’s policy must address.

    Prohibited uses vary greatly by state. Some areas to watch include:

    • Random surveillance and crowd control. The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that at least 18 states have passed legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant to use drones for surveillance or to conduct a search, absent exigent circumstances. Naturally, this prohibits the use of drones for crowd control or traffic monitoring.
    • Weaponization. According to the NCSL report, three states—Maine, North Dakota and Virginia—prohibit law enforcement agencies from using weaponized drones. Even these restrictions sometimes leave room for interpretation. The North Dakota law specifically prohibits lethal weapons, which spurred a lot of discussion around whether it would be legal to equip drones with less-lethal weapons such as a TASER or tear gas.
    • Targeting a person based on individual characteristics. A generally accepted best practice in law enforcement drone use is to prohibit their use to target a person based solely on individual characteristics, such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation. State laws may go even further in spelling out restrictions in this area.
    • Facial recognition. Drones can be combined with the latest biometric matching technology. Whether state legislatures will be comfortable with that is another question. A recent bill proposed in Massachusetts would ban drones from using facial recognition and other biometric matching technology except to identify the subject of a warrant.
    • Nighttime use. FAA guidelines only permit law enforcement drone use during daylight hours. Agencies can apply for a waiver, which brings additional requirements and restrictions.

    3. Preserving privacy

    As with other technologies, addressing privacy concerns surrounding drones involves a balance of policy and engagement. Your policy must include a strong statement about the importance of preserving privacy rights.

    Absent a warrant or exigent circumstances, operators must adhere to FAA guidelines and avoid intentionally recording or transmitting images of any location where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a backyard.

    Once your policy incorporates a strong privacy protection, you will be in a better place to engage advocacy groups concerned about the use of law enforcement drones. Pointing to specific examples of how your agency intends to use the drone and how drones have aided in search and rescue operations can also provide a positive focus to such conversations.

    4. Data retention

    Similar to body worn camera footage, data retention issues abound when it comes to drone use. Some policy questions about data and its retention include:

    • Will all video from the drone be recorded?  
    • Where will it be retained
    • How long will the data be retained?
    • How will your agency manage footage collected of those who are not the target of criminal investigations?
    • Can your agency freely share or disclose information gathered by the drone with other governmental agencies?

    Again, some states have issued specific laws. Illinois, for example, requires law enforcement agencies to destroy all information gathered by a drone within 30 days, except when there is “reasonable suspicion that the information contains evidence of criminal activity, or the information is relevant to an ongoing investigation or pending criminal trial” (725 ILCS 167/20).

    Absent any state-specific requirements, it’s probably best to treat data gathered by a drone as you would other records. If your agency has a strong records retention policy, it will probably cover you for records produced by drones as well.

    4. Drone coordinator

    So how do you ensure you’re covering all the complex considerations of using a drone in law enforcement? A best practice is to build the role of drone coordinator into your policy. In most agencies, the drone coordinator will likely not be a separate position, but formally designating someone to coordinate your agency’s drone use helps bring consistency to operations and provides a point of contact for questions or issues.

    Following are just a few responsibilities the drone coordinator can take on:

    • Ensuring that all operators complete required FAA and agency training
    • Developing protocols for conducting criminal investigations involving a drone, including documentation of time spent monitoring a subject
    • Implementing a system for public notification of drone deployment
    • Recommending program enhancements, particularly regarding safety and information security
    • Issuing reports regarding drone use

    5. Take to the skies

    When any powerful technology intersects with law enforcement, agencies are faced with a complex balancing act. On the one hand, drones represent a vast potential of new applications in law enforcement. On the other, agencies must ensure safe, constitutionally sound use. A clear, concise drone policy is essential in achieving this balance.

    One final consideration: keeping your policy and procedures up to date. Drone laws and regulations are very much in flux, with new state legislation popping up frequently. If your agency has established or is considering establishing a drone program, you must ensure you have a way to stay current on changing federal and state regulations.

    About the Author

    Lexipol’s Law Enforcement Policy Manual and Daily Training Bulletin Service provides essential policies that help reduce risk and keep officers safe, including a comprehensive drone operations policy. Contact us today for more information or to request a free demo.

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  • 30 Jul 2017 6:07 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By, Patrick Kelley, Captain Ventura County Fire Department, Member of IPSA’s Mentoring Committee

    The Hartford Consensus has been the most in depth study about active shooter and mass casualty incidents and the development of best practices. According to the study, there are three levels of responder: (1) immediate responders, (2) professional first responders and (3) trauma care professionals. These traditional roles are no longer enough.

    Immediate responders’ role

    Within four to six minutes a person can bleed out and die. This is less than national average response times for professional first responders. 

    Trauma is now the number one cause of death in Americans under the age of 46, and immediate responders are a vital component of survival after a mass casualty incident. Historically, an immediate responder is a bystander who, at best, would initiate a call to 911, and then sit passively waiting for the first responders to arrive. Fast forward to today, immediate responders are now deemed essential to victim survival in active shooter and mass casualty type incidents. Arguably, the immediate responders are the most critical because they are present when the event happens and can immediately intervene.

    Community members are clamoring nationwide for training, but also have legitimate concerns about causing further injury, liability and communicable disease transmission, which is why education and training is so important.

    Provide citizen education, training

    To ensure preventable deaths do not continue to occur, community members need to know that they represent the immediate responders. The Boston Marathon bombing proved how effective the individual can be if they know rudimentary disaster medicine. Everyone remembers the guy in the cowboy hat that became an instant nationally recognized figure for his efforts.

    In 2015, the Obama Administration launched the Stop the Bleed campaign, and DHS now has oversight. Programs endorsed by the campaign teach basic life-saving fundamentals. Bleeding control, airway positioning and activating the 911 system are the common threads throughout theses training programs. All municipalities must learn how to get started and then educate, train and empower their communities about life-saving measures. 

    It must be recognized that asking the public to act as a responder and potentially perform life-saving interventions on others will be tremendously stressful. To ensure that they are successful when called to act, public access bleeding control kits are essential. 

    The study recommends co-locating these kits next to the Public Access Defibrillators, since most people know that is where to find help in the event of an emergency. As part of the information dissemination, mobile technology applications could also show the location of these kits, much the same as has been done with the AEDs.

    An international call to action

    You must educate your community members that when a true disaster occurs, the public safety system will be overloaded. It is in these rare instances when everyone who is able will be asked to assist as an immediate responder.

    Now, the onus for preparing for and mitigating against disasters falls on local government. Given this, you must be the one to initiate the discussion in order reduce preventable deaths occurring.

    Partnerships between local leadership, public safety and the public need to be formed. Once these partnerships are formed, these individuals must sit down at the same table to work through the problem of so many lives being lost to preventable causes and develop actionable solutions. Without these partnerships, a resilient community will never be achievable.

    Communities throughout the country need to recognize the value of these spontaneous rescuers, educate them, equip them and account for them in the planning process. As the study suggests, the nation needs to move forward from simply “if you see something, say something” to “if you see something, say something, do something.” The only way to achieve this is through public education, whole-community partnerships, and providing the equipment necessary to be successful. 

    About the Author

    Patrick Kelley is a Fire Captain assigned to the training section with the Ventura County Fire Department. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management, and is pursuing a Master’s in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Patrick currently serves on the IPSA’s Mentoring Committee, and if you have any questions you can contact him at

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  • 27 Jul 2017 6:52 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Nicholas Greco IV, M.S., BCETS, CATSM, IPSA Mental Health Committee Chair

    As a first responder, many of you are aware of the dangers of heroin laced with fentanyl, carfentanil and U-47700. In addition, there are a number of other synthetic opioids that seem to evade detection due to the constant tweaking of their molecular structure by street chemists.

    Fentanyl-related substances can be absorbed through the body through injection, orally, contact with one’s mucous membranes, inhalation and through the skin. Not only does exposure pose a clear and present danger to humans, our K-9 officers are also at risk. At minimum, officers should always have their own Personal Protective Equipment consisting of nitrile gloves, N-95 dust masks, sturdy eye protection, paper coveralls/shoe covers and naloxone injectors.

    While the widespread use and increased acceptance of naloxone has helped to reverse overdoses in both users and first responders, we are seeing an upward trend of increased naloxone doses to reverse the effects of opioid exposure. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of heroin and continued diversion of prescription painkillers, this epidemic shows no signs of letting up.

    Handling prescription meds (or so you think)

    Never open a prescription bottle or package and empty the contents into your hands. Once again, even in a prescription bottle, there is no guarantee of the contents. What is labelled on the bottle may not be innocuous, and may be laced with fentanyl or any number of substances. Many persons with mental illness have more than one psychiatric condition and often their mental illness may also be accompanied with alcohol and substance abuse as a means to self-medicate.

    While people may be taking anxiolytics such as the following commonly prescribed benzodiazepines: Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax, Xanax XR (alprazolam) to relieve anxiety and produce feelings of relaxation, these may be counterfeit. Xanax (alprazolam) along with oxycodone, and hydrocodone are replaced with fentanyl to mimic the effects of these real products.

    Thus, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, in pill or capsule form, have been represented as Xanax (alprazolam), OxyContin (oxycodone), and other pharmaceutical drugs. In the case of fentanyl and carfentanil, an amount as small as a grain of sand could kill you. Additionally, there are a number of prescription medications in patch form which are easily absorbed through the skin, while others can be absorbed in the mouth through saliva and orally disintegrate.

    You can now see why even opening a closed pill bottle can expose you to minute amounts of the substance.

    Safety tips

    When dealing with unknown substances and to minimize exposure, it may be best practice to not open any containers, bottles, or bags, nor field test any substances. The best advice is to safely handle the substances using PPE, maintain chain of custody, and directly send to the lab for testing and confirmation. 

    More first responders are getting crisis intervention team training, commonly referred to as CIT. And this training is helping to increase awareness of psychological issues in the communities they serve. 

    Lastly, the DEA has released a number of rollcall videos warning of the dangers of handling and field testing suspected illicit substances. The latest DEA rollcall video is a must watch for all first responders. Remember, stay safe by minimizing your risk.

    About the Author

    Nicholas Greco IV, M.S., B.C.E.T.S., C.A.T.S.M. is President and Founder of C3 Education and Research, Inc., a training and consulting firm. Nick has held multiple positions over a 20-year career in clinical operations, project management, multidisciplinary training for civilians and law enforcement, as well as diagnostics and assessment. He has directed, managed and presented training programs globally across various topics including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, verbal de-escalation techniques, post-traumatic stress disorder, burnout, and vicarious traumatization. Nick is a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association and Committee Chair of the IPSA's Mental Health Committee.

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  • 24 Jul 2017 3:52 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Brian Bayani, Executive Director/EMS Chief, Northwest Community Health, IPSA Chair – Multidiscipline Mentoring Committee

    The psychological well-being of employees has emerged as a significant focus for public safety organizations in recent years. The nature of the job often exposes personnel to high-stress situations and traumatic events (McFarlane, Williamson, & Barton, 2009), which have a profound impact on stress.

    In EMS and the fire service, there is a relationship between distress and exposure to specific incident types, including child death, caring for a friend or family member and caring for disaster, crime and burn victims (Holland, 2011).

    In law enforcement, similar relationships exist with use of force, particularly deadly force, and physical assault (Violanti & Aron, 1993).

    The prevalence of stress and its manifestations among public safety professionals present significant challenges for leaders, though one potential pathway for managing stress may lie in the concept of self-efficacy.

    Confidence or lack-of

    Self-efficacy generally refers to an individual’s confidence in his or her ability to undertake a particular action or behavior to produce an outcome (Bandura, 1977).

    Perceptions of self-efficacy can influence chosen behaviors (Bandura, 1982). For example, if an employee believes he or she can successfully perform positive coping behaviors, they may be more likely to engage in those behaviors. Similarly, an employee may avoid certain coping behaviors if he or she believes they are incapable of performing the behavior.

    The notion of self-efficacy also influences cognitions and stress reactions (Bandura, 1982). Benight and Bandura (2004) found that high coping self-efficacy was associated with lower perceived risk and buffered stress reactions to potential threats. Individuals with higher coping self-efficacy were also less preoccupied by intrusive thoughts stemming from potential threatening situations and had shorter stress recovery periods and lower overall distress.

    Self-efficacy perceptions affect motivation to deal with challenging or threatening situations and for how long and to what extent one will persevere when confronted with such situations (Bandura, 1982; Benight & Bandura, 2004).

    Well-being, PTSD, or burnout

    It is not surprising then that self-efficacy frequently correlates to measures of psychological and general well-being. For example, a study of emergency medical dispatchers found self-efficacy to be a significant predictor of well-being in that population, but failed to identify self-efficacy as a significant predictor of post-traumatic stress syndrome or post-traumatic growth (Shakespeare-Finch, Rees, & Armstrong, 2015).

    In contrast, a study of patients who had endured significant physical trauma found that low self-efficacy was a significant predictor for the development of post-traumatic stress syndromes (Flatten, Wälte, & Perlitz, 2008). Self-efficacy also mediates between post-traumatic stress symptoms and perceptions of cognitive difficulties in certain situations (Samuelson, Bartel, Valadez, & Jordan, 2016).

    Burnout is a specific manifestation of stress with three dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism, and feelings of ineffectiveness (Maslach, Schaufeli, and Leiter 2001). Burnout has been shown to contribute to life satisfaction, job satisfaction, and perception of job demands (Ângelo & Chambel, 2015; Gökçen, Zengin, Oktay, Alpak, Al, & Yildirim, 2013; Reizer, 2015). A study of Italian fire and emergency medical services workers found self-efficacy negatively correlated to burnout following exposure to traumatic events (Prati, Pietrantoni, & Cicognani, 2010).

    Consistent with Benight and Bandura (2004), the study concluded that emergency personnel tended to have less severe responses to stressful situations when self-efficacy perceptions were higher. Fida, Laschinger and Leiter (2016) similarly found that higher levels of self-efficacy correlated to lower levels of exhaustion and cynicism among nurses. Both exhaustion and cynicism negatively correlated to mental health. Shoji, Cieslak, Smoktunowicz, Rogala, Benight, and Luszczynska (2016) also found a negative effect of self-efficacy on burnout, positing that development of personal self-efficacy was beneficial in coping with negative occupational experiences.

    Leadership style influences self-efficacy

    The subject of leadership has gained considerable interest as a factor in both the self-efficacy percepts and stress of employees. One study found that leadership behaviors that demonstrate honesty, integrity and moral values positively correlated to higher employee self-efficacy (Fallatah, Laschinger, & Read, 2017). An inverse relationship also exists between abusive supervision and self-efficacy, such that self-efficacy percepts are lower when employees perceive abusive behavior by their supervisors (Zhi-Xia & Hong-Yan, 2017).

    With regard to stress, supportive leadership correlated with lower stress and fewer negative stress outcomes among military members (Britt, Davison, Bliese, & Castro, 2004). Additionally, a qualitative study of paramedics also found that EMS workers who reported positive experiences with stressful situations described supportive behaviors by their leaders (Clompus & Albarran, 2016). Chen and Bliese (2002) found that the degree to which subordinates perceived leaders to provide task direction and social support positively correlated to subordinate self-efficacy and negatively correlated to psychological strain.

    Nielsen and Munir (2009) found a relationship between visionary, creative and inspiring leadership styles and overall well-being, also confirming a mediating role of self-efficacy on the relationship between transformational leadership and well-being. Liu, Siu, and Shi (2010) also found that this style of transformational leadership positively correlated to self-efficacy and that self-efficacy moderated the effect of leadership behaviors on occupational stress.

    Laschinger, Borgogni, Consiglio, and Read (2015) found a positive relationship between authentic leadership style and nurses’ self-efficacy. Consistent with prior studies, self-efficacy was negative correlated to work strain, components of burnout, and psychological well-being. Further still, Rahbar, Zare, and Akbarian Bafghi (2016) found that relationship-building, supporting and empowering behaviors by leaders negatively correlate to components of employee burnout and positively correlated to employee self-efficacy.

    Research disparities

    A small segment of prior research has failed to establish significant correlations between self-efficacy and psychological well-being. It is worth noting also that there is some evidence to suggest that high self-efficacy may have a deleterious effect on mental health in certain specific situations (Schönfeld, Preusser, & Margraf, 2017).

    In general, however, increasing empirical evidence has affirmed self-efficacy as an important factor in promoting psychological well-being. In studies that challenge the global benefit of self-efficacy, researchers largely attribute inconsistencies to specific contextual circumstances and differences in personal characteristics.

    Importance of prior performance

    Bandura postulated that self-efficacy is influenced by several factors. The most significant of these is prior performance.

    Simply, prior successful performance of a task or behavior increases the belief that the employee can replicate that behavior or similar behaviors in the future. Exposing employees to challenge stressors through simulation training and problem solving opportunities, for example, can build resilience to future stressors.

    To a lesser extent, observing others perform target behaviors and receiving positive encouragement also develop self-efficacy. By modeling positive coping skills and behaviors, leaders may be able to increase subordinates’ beliefs that they also cope with stress positively. Similarly, providing encouragement and promoting stress management initiatives such as peer support or wellness programs can have positive effects on staff self-efficacy and stress reduction.

    About the Author

    Chief Bayani is a Licensed Paramedic and Master Peace Officer in the State of Texas. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Northwest Community Health in Tomball, Texas, and is the Chair of the IPSA Multidiscipline Mentoring Committee. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Sam Houston State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Administration from the University of Houston – Downtown. Chief Bayani is also a doctoral student in the Cook School of Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

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  • 24 Jul 2017 3:12 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By John Kapinos, IPSA Mentoring Committee

    The following is my best recollection of a conversation between me and a command-level officer in an agency I used to work for. This conversation occurred sometime in 2001:

    “John, I don’t know why you are always pushing this strategic planning thing. We are a ‘put out the fire’ type of organization – we don’t have time for that kind of stuff.”

    “Maybe if we did better strategic planning, we wouldn’t have so many fires to put out.”

    “But we are really good at putting out the fires.”

    This reflects what seems to be the typical mindset within much of the public safety profession when somebody mentions the idea of strategic planning. 

    Today versus tomorrow

    In fact, the emergency response community makes a professional point of pride at being able to respond and handle any form of catastrophic event that occurs on their watch; and our first responders do indeed uniformly excel at this.

    The drawback to this, however, is that police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel tend to function on a day-to-day, shift-to-shift, call-to-call basis. They respond, put out the proverbial fire, write up the needed report and then move on to the next event.

    What is missing from this equation is the process of stopping, reflecting, evaluating organizational performance and looking toward the future of the profession.

    Public safety agencies are understandably focused on the needs of today, but must be careful not to neglect to think about the needs of tomorrow – or five years from now. A comprehensive ongoing process of strategic planning and evaluation is essential to help agencies close this gap. Failure to do so will find agencies stuck on the wrong side of a historical power curve.

    Implementing change

    Strategic planning is simply the organizational mechanism to plan for and to implement change. Although frequently dreaded by public safety professionals, change is inevitable and must be anticipated and proactively addressed.

    Many of us who have served in the public safety profession over the past thirty years know the impacts of change on how we do our jobs. We can recall many struggles of adapting to the introduction of new technologies. Over the past decade, the law enforcement profession has been dealing with changing demands and expectations regarding the use-of-force and with interacting with increasingly diverse populations.

    Fire departments have transitioned within a two-generation period from a primary focus on fire suppression to one of emergency medical response. These are broad strategic changes that have not always been implemented smoothly.

    Not planning is devaluing

    Smart organizations stay focused and relevant through a process of continual re-evaluation and evolution. Strategic planning is the cornerstone of that process. I describe strategic planning as a way to identify, describe and plan for future change. The process must include constant self-evaluation to ensure fidelity to the mission and values of the organization. And the organizational vision is continually re-focused in accordance with identified future trends and changing circumstances.

    A current police chief, an acquaintance, previously said, “I love strategic planning, but I hate the process involved.”

    Strategic planning does not have to be onerous or complicated. Agencies have full authority to scale and tailor the process to their particular needs and capacity. The most important thing is not to follow some prescribed, elaborate planning model, but to develop and institutionalize a process that works for the agency and the constituents it represents.

    “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.” --Dwight D. Eisenhower.

    About the Author

    John Kapinos is a founding partner of LEAP21 Consulting LLC. Previously, he served in Fairfax County Police Department as a strategic planner and Montgomery County Police Department as a lieutenant. John is a member of IPSA’s Mentoring Committee and if you have any questions for him, you can contact him through us at

  • 20 Jul 2017 7:28 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Tom Joyce, NYPD Retired Lieutenant Commander of Detectives, Vigilant Solutions VP of Business Development

    Recently, I met three registrants at the International Homicide Investigators Association National Symposium in Orlando who didn’t know what LPR was. What is LPR? Or is it ALPR? Or is it ANPR? If you work investigations you should know this – LPR stands for license plate readers (and the industry accepted acronym is LPR).

    Granted one of these individuals I met was retired and his last patrol vehicle was a gelding, but the other two were active. They have the responsibility of conducting death investigations, ultimately, homicide. With that responsibility, they may levy the charge of murder on someone someday, a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

    Oath of best practices

    In 2000, I attended the NYPD homicide course and had the privilege of meeting and listening to Vernon Geberth of Practical Homicide Investigation. Commander Geberth requires that all class attendees take an oath, part of which reads, “Practitioners must be prepared to use tactics, procedures and forensic techniques in their pursuit of the truth: and then follow the course of events and the facts as they are developed to their ultimate conclusion.” All of his attendees should adhere to that oath.

    What does this oath have to do with LPR? There are detectives, investigators and analysts that are not up on the latest and greatest best practices and tools to assist their criminal investigative process.

    LPR is one of many technologies and tools that all investigators must know about. For example, how many detectives know what DNA stands for? And what is a loci? I fear how many may respond to these questions, knowing that too many won’t know what these terms mean. And that’s disappointing to the profession.

    Professional responsibility

    Who is responsible for ensuring that detectives have the best tools and technologies available in their toolbelts? The detective? Yes. The Squad Commander? Yes. The agency they work for? Yes. Everyone who oversees investigators (including the investigator) is responsible for knowing current leading practices and applying those practices in their jurisdiction.

    As an active member of the IHIA Advisory Board, I met with incoming President Paul Belli and first Vice President Greg Esteban. They are committed to providing their membership with the best training possible at their national symposiums and regional training sessions. However, only a small percentage of investigators are taking advantage of this training.

    Leveraging LPR analytics

    As I advocate for you to expand your knowledge about the tools that are available to advance your investigations, I’ll explain why every homicide investigator needs LPR in their investigative arsenal.

    LPR’s true power comes when it is coupled with analytics for investigations. Think about this: a high amount of crimes involves a vehicle in some capacity – either the vehicle was used in committing the crime, was driven to and from the crime scene or perhaps a witness was in a nearby vehicle. 

    Here’s what that means for you: If you can locate a vehicle of interest, you are likely on your way to developing leads and solving crimes. LPR and analytics help you locate that vehicle and complete the investigative triangle of person, location and vehicle. Find the vehicle and you can use your resources to connect that vehicle to a person or even a location, such as crime scene.

    So, detectives, please ask the boss to nurture your growth as an investigator, push your agency to get you trained and scream as loud as you can for the technology you need. Provide use cases and examples about how the technology is being applied in other agencies. If you need some examples, contact me and I’ll give you a ton. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need to do your job – in fact, it’s your obligation to the communities you serve to make sure you have what you need to effectively do your job.

    About the Author

    Tom Joyce, NYPD Retired Lieutenant Commander of Detectives, Vigilant Solutions VP of Business Development. Tom is a retired member of the NYPD in the rank of Lieutenant Commander of Detectives. He commanded the NYPD Cold Case Squad upon his retirement and additionally held many other roles within the detective and organized crime bureaus. Tom often lectures on various subject matters relating to Homicide Investigations and has published numerous articles on criminal investigations. Tom is currently a member of the International Homicide Investigators Association’s Advisory Board.

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  • 19 Jul 2017 6:51 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Lieutenant Tim Murphy, Paso Robles (CA) Police Department, IPSA Memorial Committee

    Everyone in public safety recalls the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015.  The suspects in this attack were responsible for killing fourteen innocents and wounding another twenty-two. After they fled the scene, these suspects were ultimately located by law enforcement and engaged in a dramatic shootout, which resulted in their deaths. Fortunately, only two police officers were wounded in this culminating event. 

    The public safety professionals who responded to the initial attack, and the final apprehension of the suspects, all performed in the finest traditions of our profession. They faced a daunting task:

    • Responding to the 9-1-1 calls of an active shooter at a public building.
    • Managing victim care.
    • Securing a large office building to make it safe for EMS and crime scene investigators.
    • Dealing with the massive response of public safety personnel from throughout the region.
    • Keeping the public informed and interacting with the media.
    • Managing all the uninjured victims and witnesses.
    • Locating the suspects.

    Their courage and selfless acts in the face of life threatening danger and chaos are commendable. In public safety, practitioners often focus on the response.  

    • How did we respond?
    • Did we follow accepted tactics, techniques and procedures?
    • Did our weapons and ammunition perform as expected?
    • Did our communications systems function under maximum load?

    Sometimes in the overwhelming rush of work that needs to be accomplished during and in the day following an incident, however, we forget about the most important component of our response – safeguarding our own people.

    • How are they doing?
    • How are they processing these traumatizing events?
    • How is our organization responding to their needs?

    While the public safety profession has made significant improvements in this concept over the last twenty-five years, improvements can be made. We must always seek new opportunities to improve our response to employee trauma support.

    There is no doubt that many of the first responders were traumatized by the San Bernardino attack. The multiple agencies involved completed after action reports and followed their debriefing protocols to assist their employees in dealing with this trauma and stress. Individual agencies are commended for their efforts.

    The 2016 DOJ COPS Office publication Bringing Calm to Chaos is an excellent review of the public safety response to this terrorist attack, from the incoming 9-1-1 calls to the after-action reports and debriefings.

    This report is a valuable resource and I encourage all public safety professionals to make the time to read it. The report examines every facet of the public safety response to these events, including lessons learned about ‘Post-event responder and victim welfare’.  There are five key takeaways from this part of the report:

    1. Post-event victim and responder welfare should be an integral part of inter-agency planning, training and exercises (page 108).
    2. Ensure your department has a policy regarding mental health support after critical incidents and clearly communicated to the entire department (page 108).
    3. Assign a mental health or officer wellness incident commander to oversee officer mental health and coordinate services among participating agencies (page 108).
    4. Compel participation in critical incident debriefings or post-incident counseling both for victims and civilians and commissioned staff (page 108).
    5. Consider follow-up counseling as it is not unusual for post-traumatic stress to manifest itself several weeks or months after an event (page 108).

    In addition to mental health assistance, consider unit, team, or department level debriefings to bring closure to the event (page 108)

    We are all aware that events like the terrorist attack in San Bernardino traumatize our first responders.  It is important to remember that everyday events that we routinely deal with can have the same impact on our personnel. 

    A horrific car crash, an officer involved shooting, a structure fire with casualties and natural disasters are all examples of incidents that could traumatize one of our own. This trauma can create significant issues personally and professionally for our people. It is our responsibility as leaders to take proactive steps to provide our first responders with appropriate mental health trauma support.

    For further reading on these topics, I encourage you to read 2016 report titled Preparing for the Unimaginable: How Chiefs Can Safeguard Officer Mental Health Before and After Mass Casualty Event – another DOJ COPS Office publication.

    About the Author

    Tim Murphy currently serves as the Support Services Commander at the Paso Robles (CA) Police Department. He is commander of the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT Team and holds a B.S. Degree in criminal justice from California State University (Sacramento) and a Master’s Degree in Justice Administration from Norwich University. During his 27-year career, he has served as a field training officer, motor officer, detective, and SWAT operator.

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  • 15 Jul 2017 7:37 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Joseph “Paul” Manley, Lieutenant, Nahant Police Department

    Whether you work in law enforcement, security, the fire service, EMS, healthcare, human services, business, or any field, you have likely come across angry, hostile or non-compliant behavior. Your response to defensive behavior is often the key to avoiding a physical confrontation with someone who has lost control of their behavior.

    A person during a crisis – and in the heat of the moment – cannot always communicate their thoughts, feelings or emotions clearly. They may find it difficult to understand what others are saying. Therefore, it is important to empathize with the person’s feelings, stay calm and try to de-escalate the situation.

    1. Situational assessment: An individual’s behavior during crisis is unpredictable and can change dramatically without warning. Therefore, it is important to quickly scan the immediate area, look for exits, bystanders and dangerous objects – even a pencil can be lethal – to assess immediate risks and help you decide on the most suitable approach. Ask yourself these questions.

      --Are there any objects nearby that can harm me or cause self-inflicted harm?
      --Do I need emergency assistance? Or do I have time to start with a phone call for guidance and support?
      --Do I need additional resources to handle the problem?
      --Is the person in danger of hurting themselves, others or property?

      When encountering an individual in crisis the most important thing is safety. And when in doubt, get out.

    2. Actively listen: Clarifying, paraphrasing and open-ended questions all help to ensure that the person is aware you understand their frustrations. This helps to lower frustration levels as they feel they have gotten their concerns off their chest.

    3. Remain empathetic: When someone says or does something you perceive as weird, unusual or irrational, do not judge or discount their feelings. Whether you think those feelings are justified, they’re real to the individual in crisis. Pay attention to what they are doing and saying. Keep in mind that whatever the person is going through, it is likely the most important thing in their life at that particular moment.

    4. Physical distance: Maintain a safe distance. Personal space varies among individuals during crisis, but if possible stand one to three feet away from a person who is escalating. Allowing personal space may help decrease the individual’s anxiety and may prevent unpredictable behavior. If you must enter someone’s personal space to provide care, explain your actions first so the individual feels less confused and frightened.

    5. Non-verbal communication: It is possible that the individual in crisis will downward spiral and begin to lose control. At this stage, they are more likely to react to your non-verbal communication and cannot hear your words or commands. Be mindful of your gestures, facial expressions, movements and tone of voice. Keeping your tone and body language neutral will go a long way toward defusing a situation.

    6. Clearly establish limits: If the individual’s behavior is belligerent, defensive or disruptive, give them clear, simple and enforceable limits. Offer concise and respectful choices and consequences. An individual who is upset may not be able to focus on everything you say. Be clear, speak confidently and slowly and offer the positive choice first.

    7. Do not rush: When an individual during crisis is upset, they may not be able to think clearly. Give them a few moments to think through what you’ve said. Stress rises when they feel rushed. Allowing time brings calm.

    8. Post-incident debriefing: Immediately following an incident, the physical, emotional and psychological needs of all involved participants should be attended to in a supportive safe environment, particularly if any were victims of aggression or violence. There must be a dedicated and timely review to examine the responses to the incident. The review process must be undertaken in the spirit of open inquiry with the aim of improving future responses rather than an attempt to assign blame.

    Following the review, the action plan should be updated accordingly, and all staff should be made aware of any alterations to the planned response to challenging situations.

    Advocating and caring for someone experiencing a crisis can be extremely stressful. Have a plan in place, know the best techniques to de-escalate the situation and know where to turn when you need help.

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    About the Author

    Lt. Manley is a 30+ year law enforcement professional and adjunct faculty member at North Shore Community College in Danvers, MA. Paul is the Founder of Risk Mitigation Technologies, LLC and currently serves as the Executive Officer for the Nahant Massachusetts Police Department. Paul has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Anna Maria College, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from American International College. Paul is proud and honored to serve the IPSA Multi-Discipline Mentoring Program and Memorial Committee.

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