Throughout 2022, we at Lexipol worked to further our mission of empowering first responders and public servants to serve their communities safely and responsibly. In addition to providing innovative solutions for public safety and local government, we also brought you timely, relevant content that informed and entertained while helping you do your job more effectively.
Below is a roundup of the top Lexipol articles that appeared on the Lexipol blog during 2022. You might also want to check out the top pieces that appeared on our Cordico wellness blog..
General Public Safety Articles
Whether you’re in law enforcement, firefighting, corrections or emergency medical services, these top Lexipol articles can help you become better informed about important issues and developments in the field of public safety:
- First Responder Fentanyl Exposure: What You Need to Know by Paul Harnett
Most first responders are aware of the dangers posed by both the production and consumption of methamphetamine, but the risks of fentanyl exposure are not as widely known. As fentanyl use ratchets up in the U.S., more and more in public safety workers are coming into contact with the drug. Learning how to prevent and mitigate exposure can help reduce the harm from this deadly drug.
- Overtime Abuse in Public Safety: A Problem Lying in Wait by Gordon Graham
Trust in our public servants is contingent on them acting with honesty and integrity. While the number of public safety employees who participate in overtime scams is small, it should be zero. Chiefs and department leaders need to implement effective controls to help deter staff members from even thinking about committing this type of fraud.
- Employee Retention: Preventing a “Great Resignation” in Your Public Safety Agency by Rex Scism
Everyone in public safety knows how hard it is to attract good recruits these days. The problem is compounded when good workers leave for other agencies — or for other lines of work. The author provides fact-based advice on how to keep the employees you have, beginning with the onboarding process and progressing to other management and motivation strategies.
- It Takes Work: Understanding the Dynamics of Communication in Public Safety Agencies by Rex Scism
“The problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” That’s the starting point the author takes in this article, the conclusion of a series on leadership. Effective communication is one of the most difficult tasks for any leader, but it’s imperative for the effective management of employees and agency goals. Communication requires overcoming barriers preventing human connection, and when done correctly, can lead to improvements in morale and employee success.
Law Enforcement Articles
Lexipol published dozens of articles on law enforcement topics during 2022, running the gamut from management to best practices to cautionary tales. Here are some of the most-read pieces:
- Police Use of Force: Managing Risk and Mitigating Harm by Michael Ranalli
The 2013 in-custody death of Jesse Aguirre provides a jumping-off point for a discussion on the use of force and duty to intervene. Aguirre died in police custody after being left face-down and restrained for several minutes. Responsible officers, the author says, need to “focus on doing the right thing for the right reason by following the law, properly accounting for the increased risk to the person, and monitoring the situation for signs things are going in the wrong direction.”
- On Influence & Accountability: Cultivating an Outward Mindset in Law Enforcement by Lexipol Team
In law enforcement, we tend to see people as objects to be managed (or even manipulated) to solve problems. This creates an insular “us vs. them” mentality that can be detrimental to effective policing. A change of mindset is needed to help build relationships between agencies and communities. Fostering a culture of accountability can go a long way toward bridging the gap between officers and those they are sworn to protect and serve.
- Keep Asking Why: Root Cause Analysis of a Contemporary Tragedy by Michael Ranalli
What lessons can we learn from actor Alec Baldwin’s shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a New Mexico movie set? Numerous rules and controls apparently either failed or were ignored, resulting in a false sense of security regarding a prop (but fully functional) revolver. Whether on a movie set or in a neighborhood in your city, it’s important to analyze risks and determine how to prevent them … before a tragedy occurs.
- Bomb-Making Materials Awareness: Do You Know What You Don’t Know? by Rick Samples
Law enforcement personnel receive plenty of training on how to deal with subjects armed with guns and knives, but what about improvised explosive/incendiary devices? How many officers know the common (and not-so-common) items that might indicate the presence of a homemade bomb? More training and greater awareness is needed to help protect cops and their communities.
Fire Service Articles
The top Lexipol articles relating to firefighting are a good representation of firefighters themselves: interesting, complex and diverse. Here are the standout entries from 2022:
- Can Fire Departments Prohibit Firefighter Off-Duty Medical Marijuana Use? by Claudine Abraham and Scott Eskwitt
As more and more states legalize cannabis at the state level, fire departments have to decide whether zero tolerance is a workable approach to off-duty marijuana use. While marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, some state laws now prohibit employers from taking disciplinary action against workers who use a legal product while not on duty. Others allow blanket bans if doing otherwise would prompt the loss of federal funding, degrade public safety, and create violations of federal law.
- National Fire Prevention Week 2022: Prepping for the Big Event by Sam DiGiovanna
Every year, the National Fire Protection Association sets a theme for Fire Prevention Week. This commemoration presents a perfect opportunity for fire departments to reach out to the public, mobilize community members and reinforce the important message of fire safety.
- The Importance of Taking Ownership in the Fire Service by Bruce Bjorge
Ownership often comes down to caring: caring about the mission, caring about safety, caring about others. If someone in your department isn’t fully invested, it may be necessary to take steps — formal or informal — to increase their buy-in. Being a good leader, speaking in actions as well as words, can go a long way toward accomplishing this goal.
- Making Fire Department Discipline More Effective by Bruce Bjorge
Whether it’s because of a single bad decision or a pattern of behavior, firefighters often require corrective action from their leaders. In this article, the author recommends a three-step process that begins with analyzing the problem to determine how severe it is. Next, it’s necessary to determine whether the problem is chronic or acute. Finally, a supervisor determines what steps need to be taken to get the employee back on track. Being methodical about the process can help determine whether discipline is successful or not.
As correctional facilities nationwide struggle to achieve full staffing, both administrators and officers continue to change and adapt. These are the articles that stood out to our readers:
- Transgender Inmates: Treating Them Fairly, Keeping Them Safe by Gary Cornelius
In this update to a 2020 piece, the author takes a deep dive into best practices for the fair treatment and effective management of the growing transgender population in correctional institutions. From using appropriate language to setting and following effective policies, corrections workers must treat trans inmates in a way that ensures their safety while also protecting institutions from liability and litigation.
- 6 Principles of Effective Leadership for Correctional Officers by Christopher Munley
Not every lesson from law enforcement can be extended to the field of corrections, but in this case, the author describes principles of leadership that are common to both. These include service, honesty, integrity, humility, purpose and positivity. By fostering these qualities in themselves, corrections administrators can become better, more effective leaders.
- Identifying and Managing the Rogue Corrections Officer by Gary Cornelius
The old expression about a bad apple spoiling the whole barrel is especially true when it comes to corrections workers. Rogue officers can cause all kinds of problems by meting out excessive force, ignoring inmate complaints, smuggling contraband into facilities, and exploiting inmates for sex. The problem can be reduced through careful selection and weeding out during training and by recognizing and punishing problem behavior when it manifests.
In 2022, Lexipol continued its mission of keeping readers informed about important court cases (both criminal and civil) that impact public safety. While there were plenty to choose from, here are the best of the best:
- K9 Warnings May (or May Not) Be a Good Idea by Ken Wallentine
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Cory Jarvela led officers on a high-speed chase before fleeing on foot into the woods. He was pursued into the darkness by a deputy and Argo, a police dog. After Jarvela was apprehended by Argo and his handler, he lost a lawsuit alleging excessive force. On appeal, a three-judge panel determined the use of a dog to apprehend suspects constitutes non-deadly force, and that it is not necessary for officers to shout a warning before sending a K9 unit after a fleeing suspect.
- Clash of Perspectives: SCOTUS Case Illustrates the Need to Look Beyond the Legal Issues by Michael Ranalli
In the situation that prompted Thompson v. Clark, law enforcement responded to a report from Larry Thompson’s sister-in-law that Thompson was sexually abusing his newborn baby. At the time, the police didn’t know Thompson’s sister-in-law had a serious mental illness. After being arrested and detained for two days, Thompson was released without charges. Thompson’s malicious prosecution claim made its way all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the author analyzes the ruling for its broader implications for law enforcement.
- Bystanders Sue for Emotional Injury after Witnessing Police Shooting by Ken Wallentine
A chaotic and deadly traffic stop resulted in the shooting death of Tavis Crane, the vehicle’s driver. After the incident, passengers sued the department, alleging excessive force and also claiming the police’s actions had inflicted emotional injuries. The appellate court held the use of deadly force was, in fact, unreasonable, but that the emotional injury claim was unfounded. This case raises perilous questions about deadly force and when it might not be warranted.
- Is Firefighter Competency a Discipline Issue? by Curt Varone
When firefighters fall short of meeting job requirements, it can be a matter of competency (inability to meet the requirements) or discipline (refusing to meet the requirements). The lines separating the two are often blurred — competency-related allegations can involve disciplinary concerns and vice versa. This underscores the need for departments to establish proper disciplinary policies and legally justifiable job requirements.
Keep an eye on the Lexipol blog for a steady stream of highly relevant articles on public safety, leadership, legal updates, and other topics of interest to first responders. If you want great content delivered right to your in-box, you can subscribe to the following: