This week’s positive news from Gallup about Americans’ respect for police was quickly overshadowed by yet another report of violence against law enforcement officers, this time in America’s heartland. Our hearts go out to the communities and local government leaders in Iowa as well as the families of the two fallen officers. The ambush and murders in Urbandale and Des Moines, Iowa and the high profile ambushes in Palm Springs, Dallas and Baton Rouge earlier this year left local government leaders asking what additional steps they should be taking to protect their first responders.
A report released last year by the U.S. Justice Department, CNA and the International Association of Police Chiefs entitled "Ambushes of Police: Environment, Incident Dynamics, and the Aftermath of Surprise Attacks against Law Enforcement," investigates methods for preventing, responding to, and surviving ambushes. The strongest recommendation the report offers is training It says that reality-based training is the best way law enforcement can prepare and evaluate officers in handling high-stress events such as a surprise attack. The type of training is the closest an agency can get to observing and evaluating performance during a real-life critical incident in real time and in a controlled environment making it an invaluable opportunity for the department to learn about itself and the readiness of its officers.
The report also cites other measures that police departments have implemented to protect the officers for example: first responder aid, mandatory ballistic vests, two officers being dispatched to hang-up 911 calls, and first responder first aid. The Center for Public Safety Management and Rod Gould, ICMA-CM also provided advice in the PM Magazine cover story this month on active shooter response. While the frequency of first responder ambush incidents is not high, the impact can be devastating on communities which are working hard to develop a culture of trust between the community and law enforcement.
This month we are continuing our focus on Resilient Communities in times of Disruptive Change with a focus on public safety. Please visit icma.org/DisruptiveChange for more resources.