Correctional officers have been called "the unsung heroes of public safety," as the rigors of institutional work can take a heavy toll on both mind and body. But while the physical and emotional impact of the job cannot be underestimated, one of the biggest threats facing correctional officers today is litigation. Thankfully, case law supports the notion that both officers and agencies successfully defend themselves against this threat using carefully-crafted policies, regular training, and thorough recordkeeping.
As those who work within the fire, law enforcement, and EMS fields know, there is very little middle ground between those who favor cross training—often referred to as “consolidation,” or the act of training one professional group with some combination of the other two groups’ skills—and those who oppose it. Voices on both sides of this debate make cogent points. Though the practice has recently come into vogue as a cost-cutting measure, communities may also utilize it as a talent- or staffing-optimization tool, among other uses. However, several potential risk factors and the need for a highly tailored deployment make initial success anything but guaranteed. The purpose of this report is to provide an objective overview on the topic, including relevant facts, comparison of success and failures, and takes on the opinions first responders have expressed regarding this contentious topic.
Technology and the tenets of American law do not always seamlessly intermesh. As several former and upcoming court cases show, the intersection between the two leads to inconsistent judicial interpretations and opinions. Getting the forces in lockstep will require patience, practice, and precedent. Considering that several emerging technologies currently operate in a gray area of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, the need to align the two is growing.
For first responders, automation has the unparalleled potential to bring about systemic changes in their daily routines. While the gravity and timing of these changes remains uncertain, their arrival is inevitable.
Failure to manage training records correctly cannot only upend a department's ability to defend itself from criminal and civil claims, but can subject it to claims of spoliation. As the definition and consequences of spoliation continue to broaden, departments must ensure that their records management policies and systems are capable of providing them with the necessary layer of legal defensibility.
As public support and grant funding continue to drive body cam adoption across the nation, departments must recognize both the challenges and limitations of implementing this technology. By investing time in policies at the outset, however, departments can effectively use body cams to manage their interactions and communications with the public.
With information easier to share than ever before – whether through e-mail, text messaging, social media, or otherwise – recent cheating incidents involving public safety professionals serve as a grim reminder that high stakes testing procedures have not kept pace with advances in technology.
Use of force by law enforcement remains a controversial and complex issue. Officer and suspect safety, financial impact, and public relations are all motivations for the department wanting to lower the occurrence of force. By giving officers extra training devised to lower these occurrences, departments can sate these motivations – and serve themselves, their respective citizenries, and their officers in the process.
The Fire Training Certification Program (Fire TCP) launch occurred on September 30, 2016. The panel was moderated by John Buckman and the panelists included: Leigh Hubbard (Executive Director of ISFSI), Steve Pegram (President of ISFSI – Chief of Goshen, OH Fire Department), Ari Vidali (CEO Envisage Technologies), Eddie Buchanan (Assistant Chief of Hanover Fire & EMS – Advisory for Fire Engineering and FDIC), and John Murphy (Legal Advisory for ISFSI).
The current state of discipline in the police profession can be considered disorderly compared to the other professions and can affect public perception. The adoption of code of ethics and a strong, and independent misconduct review process is a potential way to overcome this challenge. This type of transparency can help to restore the public’s trust in our police officers.