Change Management? Factors to consider when altering a Lexipol policy

By Gregg Satula

Your department has just purchased Lexipol, and you’ve been named to the committee that will review policies. As you stare at the Lexipol “master” content for your state—policies covering everything from administrative communications to officer-involved shootings to overtime—you feel a bit overwhelmed. In many places, these policies differ from your department’s current policies, but you’re not sure how to reconcile the differences.

This feeling is very common among new Lexipol customers. Before you dive in with the red pen, there are important considerations to take into account.

Key Questions
As part of Lexipol’s Management Services team, the question of when—and when not—to change Lexipol content is something I deal with on a daily basis. Management Services representatives work directly with Lexipol customers to implement an agency’s transition to Lexipol, assist in the management of policy updates and daily training bulletin (DTB) issuance, and perform other tasks to increase the quality and professionalism of the manual. As a team, we’ve worked with hundreds of agencies, so we’ve been able to see the effect changes to master content can have. Following are a few pointers when you’re getting started.

What is the nature of the policy?
Certain policies are prone to modifications based on a variety of factors, including agency size, available equipment or technology, or specific services that may or may not be offered to the jurisdiction the agency serves. In addition, some sections or subsections are labeled as Discretionary, such as parts of the Uniform Regulations Policy. Lexipol fully expects customers to alter this content to best fit the agency; whether you prefer black, navy, blue, brown or green is your choice (except in the states that statutorily mandate a certain color!).

What effect will changes to the policy have on other content in the manual?
Changes to one policy can have a cascading effect on the rest of a manual. For example, if an agency makes drastic changes to its Use of Force Policy, changes may be needed in the Firearms Policy, the Pursuit Policy, even the Animal Control Policy. Also beware of adding content that may already be included in another policy. Lexipol policy writers attempt to minimize duplicative content because it complicates updates and can easily lead to inconsistencies across policies.

Is the change worth the additional work it may cause in updates and DTBs?
Although Lexipol’s Knowledge Management System is designed to let you make any changes you like to policy content, remember that part of what you’re investing in when you purchase Lexipol is ongoing management of your policies. Lexipol’s content writers regularly review content and issue updates as needed—but those updates are based on the master content. If you significantly alter content, it can create additional work when reviewing updates. Also, significantly altered content may cause flags to appear that need to be resolved when you’re reviewing and issuing Daily Training Bulletins.

The Three-Part Change Test
When working with an agency, a Management Services representative will typically discuss a major policy change using a three-part test:

Is the change applicable?
Will the content be appropriate for the agency? This necessitates a clear understanding of what services the agency is required to provide and actually can provide to its jurisdiction.

Is the change practicable?
Will the content reflect what the agency actually does? This occasionally leads to a second discussion: Does the agency have to change its practice to match Lexipol content or does the content need to change to match the agency’s practice? Some agencies are surprised when reviewing Lexipol content to find that their previous policies did not meet state reporting requirements or other laws and regulations.

Is the change functional?
Will the content be something that can actually be done in the real world? There is sometimes a disconnect from those in administrative positions and those actually doing the job on the street. If policy is such that it cannot be reasonably accomplished, one of two things will happen: Proactive enforcement or prompt responses for calls of lower significance will go to the wayside, or officers will take shortcuts and not follow the policy. Both will incur potential liability for the agency and members and will create tension in the agency.

A policy that is a perfect example for this discussion is the Canines Policy. Many agencies that do not have canines of their own are quick to remove this policy from their manual without second thought. However, Management Services representatives often advocate leaving the policy in the manual because many agencies that don’t have canines of their own will rely on a neighboring jurisdiction for assistance in searches or apprehensions. In this circumstance, an agency will still need policy content on who can make such a request. Do assistance requests require supervisor approval? When the handler and canine arrive, who is in command of the incident? What happens if the canine is used and a suspect is injured as a result of a bite? What are the reporting requirements for such a situation? Is there any training conducted on a regular basis so that officers are comfortable around the canine and understand the canine’s benefits and limitations? All of these are policy issues that should be addressed to minimize risk for all involved.

Balancing Act
When the Management Services representative and agency administrator are addressing Lexipol policies or pending updates, the task is to balance the requests from the agency against the intent of the Lexipol content. The representatives are knowledgeable in the manual contents and benefit from the experience of working with other agencies to address similar concerns. While we cannot provide legal advice, we do offer insight on how to better utilize Lexipol content.

If you are interested in how Management Services can assist you, contact your Lexipol Account Manager or Customer Service at customersupport@lexipol.com.


GREGG SATULA is a manager in the Management Services division of Lexipol. Gregg has worked directly with law enforcement and custody agencies across the United States implementing Lexipol manuals and addressing updates.

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Jim Franklin, Executive Director
Minnesota Sheriffs' Association, MN

"Lexipol is, indeed, ahead of the curve with their unique risk management solutions in law enforcement. The Minnesota Sheriffs' Association has been eagerly anticipating the release of the Lexipol Custody Manual. Lexipol meets the needs of law enforcement and custodial agencies by recognizing the emerging challenges facing our agencies, and providing comprehensive tools and resources to reduce liability and risk in a professional and highly efficient manner. The Minnesota Sheriffs' Association is proud of its continued partnership with Lexipol."

Chief Steven Vaccaro
Mokena (IL) Police Department

“If you compare Lexipol to other policy providers, Lexipol is the only one that has policy that has been vetted by other chiefs, industry experts and lawyers. All you have to do is tailor the policies to your agency’s needs.”

Captain Jesus Ochoa
Coronado (CA) Police Department

“Knowing that Lexipol is keeping our policies current means that there isn’t something else for us to worry about. We can focus on our jobs. That definitely gives us peace of mind.”

Chief Joseph Morris
Arapahoe Community College (CO) Police Department

“Officers are not infallible. We have limited memories like everyone else. Working under stress presents more challenges. There are times we need to access policies in the field so we are comfortable in our decision making. The mobile application has been great for this!”

Lt. Victor Pecoraro
Auburn (CA) Police Department

“The updates are super easy because you can pop them open, see the redline versions and be able to edit it on the fly. Once I learned I could do that, I was excited.”

Chief Corry Blount
Bartonville (TX) Police Department

“I feel comfortable that when we issue a policy, it covers what it needs to cover. It’s the most comprehensive policy content I’ve used in my career.”

Chief Greg Knott
Basalt (CO) Police Department

“Lexipol gives you peace of mind because the policies that you’re implementing have been reviewed by professionals in the field and by attorneys—not just your agency’s legal counsel.”

Lt. Ed Alvarez
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) (CA) Police Department

“I like the mobile app because it tells me no matter where I am when I have updates to complete or when people take the DTBs. No matter where I am, I have access. The officers can get real-time updates. Everything is at their fingertips, any time.”

Assistant Chief Bill Holmer
Glen Ellyn (IL) Police Department

“It’s a no-brainer for me. Someone is watching for changes to laws for me, and then tweaking the content based on those changes or updates in best practices.”

Deputy Chief Robin Passwater
Kankakee (IL) Police Department

“If you don’t have Lexipol, even with a full-time person dedicated to policy, there’s almost no way you can keep updated on all the laws and also have the training component. It’s an excellent system.”

Commander Leslie Burns
Mercer Island (WA) Police Department

“Lexipol provides a huge advantage for agencies pursuing accreditation. The tools take about 60% of the difficulty out of the accreditation process. If you want to be accredited, this is the way to do it.”

Chief Steven Vaccaro
Mokena (IL) Police Department

“If you compare Lexipol to other policy providers, Lexipol is the only one that has policy that has been vetted by other chiefs, industry experts and lawyers. All you have to do is tailor the policies to your agency’s needs.”

Chief Ralph Maher
Oak Creek (CO) Police Department

“With Lexipol, I know our policy manual is going to be up to date. I can turn my back on it today and tomorrow there will be any needed updates waiting for me. That allows me to focus on some of the other things I have to do as a chief.”

Chief Jeff Wilson
Orofino (ID) Police Department

“The Lexipol Policy Manual is easy to use, it’s convenient and you have peace of mind knowing that you have a thorough manual that is going to stand up to any challenge the agency may face.”

Chief Kelly Stillman
Rocky River (OH) Police Department

“I can’t say enough about the positives from a chief’s perspective. I don’t know why everyone isn’t with Lexipol.”

Deputy Chief John McGinty
Simi Valley (CA) Police Department

“You get sued for your policies or you get sued for your actions, or both. You can only do so much about actions. But having Lexipol gives me confidence that if we draw a lawsuit, our policies won’t come under attack.”

Sheriff Gerald Antinoro
Storey County (NV) Sheriff’s Office

“Lexipol is one of the best products I have seen in my 30+ years in law enforcement.”

Lt. Lauren Osborne
Surry County (NC) Sheriff’s Office

“If there’s a change as a result of case law, or a procedure that needs to change, Lexipol does the legwork, sends it to us, we approve it and send it out to our people for acknowledgement—and it’s all documented.”

Chief David Maine
The Village of Hunting Valley (OH) Police Department

“What we had before Lexipol had been around for years. It was like every other policy manual I had seen: It didn’t get the updates it needed. The Lexipol manual is a living, breathing document.”

Captain Jeff Schneider
Yakima (WA) Police Department

“KMS tracks and logs when people acknowledge and accept updates, which is very important, and it lets us track who isn’t getting the updates so we can give them the appropriate attention.”

Chief John Defore
Hiawatha, KS

“By offering 365 daily training bulletins to my officers, I am saving far more than the cost of the software every year. In fact, I was able to show my commissioners a cost savings by utilizing Lexipol for our policy and policy training needs.”

Lt. Craig Capps
White County (TN) Sheriff's Office

"I would recommend Lexipol to any law enforcement agency, whether three-person or 2,000-person—it makes no difference. The program works.”

Sheriff Blaine Breshears
Morgan County (UT) Sheriff's Office

“We had a use of force lawsuit, and as soon as the attorneys discovered that we have Lexipol, they said, ‘We won’t have an issue there.’ Our policies were never in question.”

Chief Deputy Klint Anderson
Weber County (UT) Sheriff's Office

“We spent a considerable amount of money and effort trying to develop and maintain comprehensive and legally based policies and procedures. Lexipol has relieved us of that burden and provided us with a policy system that we have great confidence in and that we can tailor to suit our particular goals and community standards.”

Sgt. Bryan Ward
Cumberland County (PA) Sheriff's Office

"Calling Lexipol an insurance policy doesn’t do it justice, because it doesn’t capture the enormous power that partnering with Lexipol provides.”

Chief Deputy Ray Saylo
Carson City (NV) Sheriff's Office

"It’s a huge priority of this administration to teach policy to our sergeants, and Lexipol’s Daily Training Bulletins help us do that. We are constantly drilling into them that policy will protect them as an individual officer. If they ensure that their people are following policy, even if they’re sued, they will be OK.”

Major Jeff Fox
Vigo County (IN) Sheriff's Office

“Lexipol’s Implementation Services program was key to getting our manuals off the shelf. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be implemented today. Departments should recognize their limitations and realize that they likely don’t have the resources to do it on their own. Implementation Services is key to getting it done.”

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