The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and Strategic Applications International (SAI) have released a report detailing the efforts put forward by the law enforcement community to minimize risks and vulnerabilities to civil lawsuits. The report provides highlights gathered during the December 7, 2016 forum focusing on “all aspects of this critical subject, including departmental leadership’s role, recruitment policies, and police-community relations.” In addition, the report contains a series of recommendations and resources for risk analysis and mitigation strategies.
According to the report, law enforcement agencies recognize the important role that risk management plays in monitoring and mitigating effects of critical events. Such risk encompasses both well-being of the officers in addition to the safety and security of the public. Given the dangers arising from a variety of unfortunate events within communities, the public places a great degree of trust for the law enforcement officers “to carry and use lethal weapons with skill, discretion, and wisdom.” Consequently, failure to address potential civil liability due to officer misconduct or other violations can lead to lawsuits that carry devastating effects not only on the local budgets, but also on the erosion of community relations.
As emphasized in this report, it is necessary for “all parties to work together to improve communication and collaboration between local governments, risk managers, law enforcement agencies, unions, and the community.” Based on this conclusion, the report provides examples of roles and responsibilities in reducing risk as applicable to each stakeholder:
- The local governments can reduce risks by investing in policy development, data collection, and ensuring fair and proactive relationship among the city and the law enforcement agencies;
- Risk managers and insurers can identify best policing practices and incentives for promoting strategic improvements;
- Law enforcement agencies can work towards enhancing the culture of agency and collaboration with the local communities and governments; and
- The community can enhance these efforts by providing community input and perspectives in developing the best policing strategies while identifying areas for improvement.
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