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June 2021 | Volume 14 | Issue 6

Critical Response ToolkitFirst-line supervisors are essential to critical incident response; when major events occur, the first officers on-scene will look to their sergeants for direction, and the first-line supervisor will likely be the Incident Commander on-scene during event response. The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) has developed a series of materials and website to prepare agency first-line supervisory teams for critical incidents. The website “Critical Response Toolkit for First-Line Supervisors” and companion resources are organized by

  • preparation before a critical incident;
  • how to handle a critical incident;
  • what to do following a critical incident.

The toolkit was designed with the input of an expert team of 15 active law enforcement supervisors and executives, as well as site visits to five agencies: (1) the Camden County (New Jersey) Police Department, (2) the New York City Police Department, (3) the Tucson (Arizona) Police Department, (4) the Metropolitan Nashville (Tennessee) Police Department, and (5) the Harris County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office.

PERF and the team developed the Critical Decision-Making Model (CDM) and companion critical incident checklist for on-scene response. The CDM model contains the key principles that guide all agencies’ work during critical incidents and the core operating principles of law enforcement response.

The Critical Decision-Making (CDM) Model

The website and companion materials also provide many resources and case studies, including the response following a critical incident—debriefing, after-action reports, and crucial officer wellness programs. Following a critical incident, first-line supervisors monitor their officers for signs of stress—both immediate and long-term signs of mental health needs that can be addressed with peer support or other resources.

The PERF Critical Response Toolkit for First-Line Supervisors can be accessed from the COPS Office’s Community Policing Topic: Organizational Transformation web page or directly on the PERF website. In addition, there is a Helpful Resources section and contacts for additional information on developing specialized critical response materials to address unique agency needs.

For additional information, please contact Matt Harman, PERF Senior Research Associate, or call PERF at 202-466-7820.

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