IACP 2019 preview: Incorporating after-action reviews into your agency’s culture

Regularly conducting and using after-action reviews can help create and instill a culture of learning


Some law enforcement agencies already use critical incident reviews (CIRs), after-action reviews (AARs) and near-miss incidents – both internally and from other agencies – to identify training needs and policy or procedure adjustments. Regularly conducting and using these reviews can help create and instill a culture of learning.

Both AARs and reported near misses help identify areas on which to focus and improve to effectively respond to future incidents of mass violence or mass demonstrations and to inform day-to-day officer safety and wellness issues.

Through funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), the National Police Foundation (NPF) has developed a guidebook (that will be published by early 2020) and the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss initiative to move the needle forward on incorporating and instilling a culture of learning, enhancement and evolution in all law enforcement organizations.

In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 file photo, students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 file photo, students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

The guidebook includes lessons learned from a meta-analysis of 20 recent mass violence and mass demonstration AARs and a step-by-step guide for conducting after-action reviews.

The LEO Near Miss system is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows law enforcement personnel to read about and anonymously share stories of near misses, often referred to as “close calls,” to identify lessons learned that can save officers’ lives.

In addition, the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI) has created online training courses on the importance of creating learning environments within law enforcement agencies, conducting AARs and submitting and studying near misses.

National Police Foundation faculty will highlight the importance of instilling a culture of learning and conducting AARs in law enforcement agencies, identify some of the key lessons learned from the NPF’s analysis, and provide an overview of the resources available in this area during a workshop at the 2019 IACP conference. The session – Creating a Culture of Learning: Incorporating After-Action Reviews into Your Agency’s Culture – is scheduled on Sunday, October 27, 2019, from 8-9:30 a.m.

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