Most law enforcement personnel join the profession because they want to serve and protect their communities. And today, many law enforcement activities center on crime reduction efforts. But when we don’t adhere to best practices, bad things can happen. This spans everything from poor or outdated training to ineffective supervision and discipline to an unclear mission. It doesn’t need to be this way. An effective crime reduction program, based in best practices, can keep our communities and our law enforcement professionals safe, while achieving crime reduction goals.
At Lexipol’s Connect 2023 conference, Chief (Ret.) Mike Ranalli applied the concept of legitimacy to crime reduction programs. He offers tangible guidance for best practices in the operation, training and maintenance of crime reduction programs for all members of the organization, from line-level officers to supervisors.
First and foremost, it’s important for officers to have a clear understanding of the mission of your agency and the purpose of the crime reduction program. Ultimately, both of these should be guided by general law enforcement safety priorities:
- Innocent bystanders
- Public safety personnel (police, EMS, fire)
When priorities are misaligned, “you’re placing the preservation of drugs and evidence over the lives of the people inside and even your own people,” Ranalli explains. The danger exists when there is “normalization of deviance” or “drift”—when your people move further and further away from acceptable behaviors due to the (perceived) lack of negative consequences.
Good training and good supervision are essential in ensuring crime reduction programs operate with integrity.
Supporting Best Practices
One of the key ways we can eliminate “drift” is through regular training based on the most up-to-date best practices. This includes ensuring your personnel are aware of the legal limitations on their conduct before engaging with the public. Ranalli emphasizes the importance of incorporating legal concepts into tactical training and scenarios, whether in use of force training, search and seizure training, the duty to intercede, or other high-risk scenarios. At the core, Ranalli highlights the need for cross-training: “The more training you give your people,” the more competent they will be—and “competence can lead to confidence.” Provide insight into foundational legal concepts before and while training on tactical abilities.
Alongside training, supervision is essential to implement best practices and set culture and expectations. Supervisors must be committed to their roles through thorough reporting and consistency in review and discipline. This ensures adherence to best practices and accountability across your agency. “It’s not just about stopping bad behavior,” Ranalli says. “It’s about improving people. If people don’t get feedback, they’re never going to improve.”
Good training and good supervision are essential in ensuring crime reduction (and other) programs operate with integrity and that personnel are adhering to best practices.