On Changes & Challenges: Top Public Safety Articles of 2021

2021 has come and gone, but it has certainly not been without its own unique set of challenges. Public safety agencies often bear the initial brunt of society’s growing pains through major events (such as pandemics) and significant changes—and 2021 was no exception. This year, Lexipol’s subject matter experts have continued to bring insight and analysis to the changes and challenges facing first responders and public servants. We’ve compiled the best of the best here for you to review or catch up on key topics you may have missed. Enjoy!

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement professionals have continued to face many challenges over the past year, such as the continuing police reform discussion and calls to defund the police. Key topics in 2021 for police professionals included analysis of police response to changing priorities and issues central to police reform.

  1. Rethinking “Show Me Your Hands!” by Von Kliem
    A command like “Show me your hands,” may invite the same movement from a compliant suspect as it does from an assaultive one. While the command is always an option, it may not always be the best option.
  2. “Clever” Tactics to Avoid Recording Police Activity Don’t Pass the Smell Test by Gordon Graham
    Playing recorded songs during a First Amendment Audit would prevent the broad distribution of the video due to the copyrighted music…right? Gordon Graham presents his analysis of this tactic and its legality.
  3. A Police Officer’s Guide to the Terrorist Attack Cycle by Rick Samples
    Police officers have always been on the front line in the battle against foreign and domestic terrorism. By learning to recognize the phases of the Terrorist Attack Cycle, you may be able to break the cycle before plans are finalized and lives are lost.

Honorable Mention: Why Defunding the Police Won’t Fix Mental Health Care by Nicholas Greco IV


In 2021, the fire service continued to experience shifting priorities as a result of the pandemic, as well as evolving challenges in staffing, safety and more. Some of the hot topics of the year include fitness and leadership:

  1. Prioritizing Firefighter Workout Time: The Power of 5 by Aaron Zamzow
    When you make time to work out, are you using it effectively? Even with small segments of time, firefighters can prioritize the right kind of fitness to help build strength and stamina for the job.
  2. Fire Service Leadership: Dealing with the Underperforming Firefighter or Officer by Jon Dorman
    The first reaction of many officers who find themselves assigned to a company or crew of less-than-optimal performers is probably, “What did I do to deserve this?” But you can embrace the challenge this assignment creates and use it to your best advantage.
  3. Lonelier the Higher You Climb? By Ian Emmons
    Managing friendships following a promotion in the fire service may not be difficult for every fire officer, but it poses challenges for the majority of us, and there are good reasons for it.


Corrections is a dynamic and often overlooked branch of public safety that has been all too affected by the events of 2021 and beyond. Over the past year, key topics in corrections have related to intelligence gathering and wellness.

  1. Why You Need Security Threat Intelligence in Your Correctional Facility by Christopher Munley
    Drug cartels, gangs and other forms of organized crime are alive and well in many correctional facilities. The dramatic increase in inmates who have ties to security threat groups underscores the need for such intelligence gathering.
  2. Causes of Burnout in Corrections by Gary Cornelius
    The underlying cause of burnout is unmanaged stress. Ask a correctional officer what stress is to them and you’ll get a wide variety of answers—but it may not actually get to the root of the problem.
  3. 12 Strategies for Combating Burnout in Corrections by Gary Cornelius
    The initial step to combating burnout in corrections is to recognize the scope of the problem. Burnout exists and cannot be ignored.

Leadership & Risk Management

Leadership is a critical topic in every discipline—and public safety leaders must be effective with their personnel and in risk management. Decision-making, which is central to both leadership and risk management, was a big hitter in this year’s top articles.

  1. Essential Elements of Supervision in Public Safety by Rex Scism
    Where do good leaders come from? Is leadership a naturally occurring skill or are good leaders “made?” Although there is no right or wrong answer, it’s safe to say that leadership itself is an art.
  2. Know Your People: The Key to Effective Leadership in Public Safety by Rex Scism
    Nothing happens without a collective group of people working together as a team under a shared vision. Great leaders have the ability to leverage the strengths of others while providing the right amount of support to make their teams successful.
  3. Deciding What Needs to Be Decided by Gordon Graham
    You cannot make the right decision if you are addressing the wrong issue. You must first identify and clarify the issue by asking clarifying questions as necessary and really listening to the answers.


Public safety has a unique relationship with the courts and the Lexipol blog regularly features content on relevant case law, legal proceedings and more. The 2021 legal list was topped by three blogs featured in Chief Ken Wallentine’s monthly Xiphos newsletter:

  1. With 2 Rulings, SCOTUS Rebukes Lower Courts and Doubles Down on Qualified Immunity Guidance by Ken Wallentine
    The top legal blog of the year covered two key rulings handed down by the Supreme Court affirming existing qualified immunity guidance, thus affecting an important aspect of how law enforcement professionals engage with the legal system.
  2. Flying the Finger Leads to a Traffic Stop, Then a Lawsuit by Ken Wallentine
    A man, while speeding through a school zone, flipped off an officer who asked him to slow down. The court takes a look at the officer-subject interaction and decides if a disorderly conduct citation for flipping the bird was warranted.
  3. K9 Deployment and Bite Duration Were Proper by Ken Wallentine
    The court rules on the legality of a K9 bite following a short pursuit and noncompliance with officer orders by the subject.


Grants articles made a big splash in 2021! With the introduction of the American Rescue Plan, public safety agencies were looking to make the most of increased funding opportunities while navigating the new legislation:

  1. The Impact of the American Rescue Plan on Local Government by Sarah (Wilson) Handler
    The American Rescue Plan offered aid to both state and local governments directly as well as several grant program opportunities to improve local community responses and recovery to COVID-19.
  2. American Rescue Plan: Advocating for Your Share by Lexipol Team
    Because the ARP provides direct funding, the process for allocating funds will vary by community. Key to having a shot at funds is to learn exactly how the process will work in your community.
  3. What Does the American Rescue Plan Mean for Fire Departments? by Jerry Brant
    To understand the impact of the American Rescue Plan on fire departments, you must first understand the legislation’s two types of mechanisms to distribute funding to eligible entities.

Honorable Mention: Fire and EMS Funding in the American Rescue Plan by Sarah (Wilson) Handler

Stay Tuned in 2022!

Lexipol’s blog was populated by insights from public safety subject matter experts on hot button issues in 2021. As 2022 comes, we’ll be back with more from the experts you know and love. Subscribe to our newsletters to receive the month’s articles directly to your inbox:

Lexipol Team

Lexipol provides public safety and local government with solutions that combine the impact of information with the power of technology. We serve more than 2 million first responders and local government officials with policies, training, wellness resources, grant assistance, and news and analysis.

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