Using Policy to Lead Cultural Change in Law Enforcement: The Vigo County Story

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Major Jeff Fox knew his agency’s policies were lacking. Although he had been part of an effort to write the Vigo County (IN) Sheriff’s Office policy manual, the result was more than 10 years old, and had never met the agency’s needs completely.

“It was really more of a merit rules book, with basics like how to wear your uniform, the need to be on time to work, etc.,” Major Fox says. “When it came down to having a policy manual that addressed the many aspects of our job, we didn’t have one.”

The lack of policies was universal across the agency, affecting both the law enforcement operation and the jail facility. But Major Fox and Sheriff Greg Ewing were unsure how to tackle the immense project of building a comprehensive and effective policy manual. On the jail side of the agency, administrators were trying to piece together a manual using policies from neighboring departments. But the results were slow and less than satisfactory.

But this journey ultimately became about far more than just issuing new policies. “We were seeking to change the way the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office operates—not to craft a manual to fit the current behavior, because our current behavior didn’t have a solid foundation,” Major Fox says.

Major Fox, who had also been a firefighter in the county, had seen Lexipol co-founder Gordon Graham speak a few times, and became curious about what Lexipol could offer his agency. At the time, Lexipol had just begun development on the Indiana Law Enforcement and Custody Policy Manuals. Vigo County SO subsequently became Lexipol’s first Indiana customer.

Using Lexipol’s Implementation Services, Vigo County successfully implemented new policy and procedures manuals for its patrol operations and jail facility. “We discovered many policies [in the Lexipol content] that we were not even addressing, state and federal laws that we had no idea existed,” Major Fox says. “Our patrol manual policies were so outdated that we chose to scrap them and start over with Lexipol’s content.”

But this journey ultimately became about far more than just issuing new policies. “We were seeking to change the way the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office operates—not to craft a manual to fit the current behavior, because our current behavior didn’t have a solid foundation,” Major Fox says. The process of evaluating how best practice content matched up against the agency’s current practices led officers, supervisors and administrators to work together to achieve a new level of accountability and consistent practice.

Read more about the three specific policy management challenges Vigo County faced and the solution Lexipol designed to help address these challenges, starting the agency on the road to becoming a best practice agency united under one mission.

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, grant assistance and news and analysis.

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