The Kankakee Police Department (KPD), located about 60 miles south of Chicago, has 70 sworn officers. The department is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ILEAP).
The KPD’s journey to implementing Lexipol started four or five years before the department became a Lexipol customer. “We went to a class that [Lexipol co-founder] Gordon Graham was putting on, and he explained the idea of six-minute-aday training,” says KPD Deputy Chief Robin Passwater. “We decided we could do that in our department. We were going through CALEA accreditation at the time, and we would read policies every shift and everyone would sign off on them.”
Although this method proved effective in building policy competency, ultimately the KPD sought a more comprehensive solution for managing their policies.
The department policy manual had not been updated in about 20 years. “The policies were changing so much, and it got to be where we have so many policies, it was difficult keeping it all under control and up to date,” Passwater says.
Lexipol’s Illinois Law Enforcement policies and training solution proved to be what the KPD needed, and the department officially signed on in 2013. Because the department’s policies were quite outdated, implementing Lexipol was a significant change, resulting in a much more comprehensive manual. But Passwater says there was relatively little resistance. “We just focused on getting everyone logged onto the online system, and having them start to work through the content, then monitoring to ensure they weren’t falling behind,” he says.
“Now, they know the policies much better.” And since the department was used to the “six-minute-a-day” training approach, Lexipol’s Daily Training Bulletins were a natural fit. “The DTBs focus on those items we’re most likely to get sued for, those high-liability policies such as use of force or pursuit,” Passwater says. “But if officers are training on these topics every month, they know what the policy is.”
The combination of comprehensive, legally defensible policy and regular training has proved vital. Recently, Passwater says, the department used DTB completion records to demonstrate that an officer had received training on pursuits multiple times in the previous six months, which made the difference in a potential lawsuit. “The DTBs give you something every month that helps reduce liability issues,” he says. “And you can customize the topics if you want to hit on a specific policy.”
For many departments today, policy content has become increasingly complex, comprising myriad state and local laws and regulations, accreditation standards and training requirements. Passwater says Lexipol has been key to helping the KPD manage that complexity. “If you don’t have Lexipol, even with a fulltime person dedicated to policy, there’s almost no way you can keep updated on all the laws and also have the training component,” he says. “With Lexipol I know we’re compliant. It’s an excellent system, and as law enforcement continues to face more requirements, I think it’s the wave of the future.”