Shift Briefing Series: Using the Four Cs – a critical incident response model for patrol

The Four Cs response model can help cut down on confusion and stress, and get officers out of crisis mode quicker


By David Pearson, PoliceOne Contributor

The Shift Briefing Series is designed to provide law enforcement officers with short training videos that will help make them smarter, safer and more efficient in daily operations and when responding to critical incidents. The videos address key components of the Top 20 Concepts, a class I created and have presented around the country since 2011. The class addresses 20 foundational concepts in law enforcement that are based in law, policy and ethics, are repeatable and defensible, and assist with critical incident decision-making. Group discussion questions are listed after each video to help solidify the topics and ensure the application is in line with your department’s mission and values.

The Four Cs is a critical incident response model for patrol that can be used to address all critical incidents:

  • Contain;
  • Control;
  • Communicate;
  • Call SWAT.

This Shift Briefing video reviews:

  • Containment on a structure and the contingencies that should be considered;
  • Who and what LEOs should try to control at the scene;
  • When and how to communicate with the suspect and fellow LEOs;
  • When to decide to call out SWAT/special operations team.

Utilizing a response model can cut down on confusion, stress and get officers out of crisis mode quicker. This short video can be used in training to help promote conversation and understanding of what is required when responding to critical incidents.

Questions to consider

  1. How are the four Cs integrated into your department’s decision-making processes, policies, tactics and procedures?
  2. What contingencies should all contact/perimeter teams discuss when they deploy?
  3. Understanding we all deal with resource issues, is it a good idea to single deploy an officer/deputy on a perimeter position?
  4. How can ego impact the application of the Four Cs on a call? What could the consequences be for those involved?
  5. What are some examples of when the Four Cs are not used in a linear fashion? How do you ensure as the call progresses that the steps are covered?
  6. What are the requirements to activate your tactical team? Who can activate the “team”? What information should be provided to them?
  7. Does your department have a warrant service matrix? How does a matrix fit into the concept of the Four Cs?

Next Shift Briefing: The Safety Priorities


About the author
David Pearson is a lieutenant with Fort Collins Police Services in Fort Collins, Colorado. He has been a police officer since 1990 and held several assignments as a sergeant and lieutenant. He has been a law enforcement instructor since 1996 and has taught a variety of topics to include officer safety, SWAT tactics, active shooter and incident command.

Since 2005, David has been an instructor for the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) and has taught classes on several disciplines. David’s focus has been in less lethal technology and tactics and he is the main instructor for the NTOA’s Less Lethal Instructor course. David has certified over 1,000 instructors in the United States and Canada in the less lethal course. Since 2013, he has served in the role of Less Lethal Section Chair for the NTOA.

In 2017, David started his company, Rocky Mountain Blue Line Consulting, LLC, and provides expert witness assistance and consulting. David has presented at the annual conferences for APCO, NSA, IACP, California Chiefs, Utah Chief’s and Utah Sheriff’s Association.

David is a two-time Medal of Valor recipient for his actions on patrol and SWAT. He also earned a Medal of Merit for his life-saving efforts during a major flood. He holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership.

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