Planning & Training to Handle Critical Incidents

The Police Foundation has conducted critical incident reviews of the Christopher Dorner Incident/Response as well as the Stockton Bank Robbery/Hostage Taking Incident.  The Police Foundation’s website also provides a Critical Incident Review Library, which includes reviews conducted by other organizations. The following are some lessons learned included in these incident reviews:

1. Agencies should develop response plans for high-risk locations that are unique to specific locations.

2. Agencies should determine the technological capabilities of high-risk locations, such as closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras,  and prepare response protocols that incorporate the use of that technology.

3. Scenario-based training is necessary to expose and prepare officers for situations that are outside of normal law enforcement operations, such as hostage and active-shooter situations.

4. Agencies need to develop comprehensive plans for regional responses that include procedures for communication and cooperation with other agencies while operating in other jurisdictions.

5. Training is needed to teach responders how to effectively lead and coordinate critical incidents. All personnel should receive regular training in major-incident response systems like the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

6. An internal notification system should be developed that allows the organization to immediately notify employees about the status of a critical incident and the need for additional staff.

7. Self-deployment by law enforcement personnel can add to the confusion in a critical incident and should be prohibited.

8. It is important to provide organizational support for all staff members involved in the critical incident, and it is equally important to keep them informed.

9. Organizations must build a good rapport with the media before critical events occur.

10. Honesty and transparency are critical when dealing with the community in the aftermath of a critical incident.

11. The importance of training to prepare for critical incidents cannot be overstated.


The Police Foundation’s Critical Incident Review Library

In an effort to provide helpful suggestions in areas that have not yet been fully studied or evaluated, we have included ideas for responses and activities that may not yet be considered evidence-based or evidence-informed. Therefore, not all actions and strategies included within this App are evidence-based or evidence-informed.