The White County Sheriff’s Office (WSCO) protects a 379-square mile area about 90 minutes due north of Chattanooga. The 35-sworn-member agency became a Lexipol customer in 2015, using both the Law Enforcement and Custody Policy Manuals.
For years, the WCSO got by with a policy manual that was an amalgamation of other agencies’ policies organized in a format that made updates cumbersome and did little to encourage deputies to use it. “Our policies were out of date, several of them were not in compliance with federal or state law; I knew we had problems with the manual,” says Lt. Craig Capps. “But we didn’t have the knowledge or time to fix it.” At a conference in 2014, Lt. Capps learned about Lexipol and was interested, but the idea didn’t take hold at first. “Then, an incident arose that brought our policy and procedures manual to light as being deficient, and I thought, this is my time to suggest using Lexipol,” he says. Sheriff Oddie Shoupe agreed, and the County Commission soon signed off on the purchase.
For the WCSO, one of the biggest benefits of switching to Lexipol was the electronic format. “Previously, when you were hired, you were given a thumb drive and the scanned policy manual was on it,” Lt. Capps says. “You couldn’t look anything up, so if you needed to find something it took forever.” That format made policy updates challenging, too. “So let’s say we wanted to change something, we had to go into the binder, replace the applicable pages, rescan the whole document and then send a memo to everyone telling them to erase their thumb drive and put the new doc on there,” Lt. Capps says. Now, he notes, it’s very simple to make a change and electronically issue an acknowledgment request.
Two other key features: the mobile app and the Daily Training Bulletins (DTBs). “The mobile app is phenomenal,” Lt. Capps says. “An officer at the side of the road can pull up the policy, read it and apply it right then and there, instead of taking a 50/50 chance of whether he’s wrong. And the DTBs on a subject in a certain time, it shows that you know the policy.”
“Our department was lax for so many years,” Lt. Capps says. “Supervisors didn’t want to call people on things because the old policy manual was so difficult to follow. Now, the officer and the supervisor can go online and know instantly what the rules are.” That, he says, has reduced policy violations and improved accountability throughout the organization: “It’s allowed us to hold our people accountable because we can see that the policy was issued on this date, acknowledged on this date, and trained on with four or five DTBs on these dates. Because I can do that – and they know I can do that – they follow the rules.”
But Lt. Capps stresses that the change has not been an adversarial one. “Officers love it, love how easy it is to use,” he says. “I used to get 7-10 calls a night with questions, but that’s been drastically reduced because they can go right to the policy. And if they use a little common sense along with the policy guidance, they can usually figure out the answers for themselves.”