NLCRPD Provides Information on Policy & Procedure - How Is Police Policy and Procedure Formed

The news headlines of today speak of the need for police department reform and development of policy. What the headlines do not address is the question how is policy developed and implemented?

In the past agencies used the notebook binder approach. This meant a paper copy of the operations manual in a three-ring binder were stamped with a sequential serial number and recorded as being assigned to the officer. As with most department equipment, officers were required to sign for the manual when it is issued to them and when they departed from the agency. While this approach served it’s intended purpose there were certain disadvantages, including access, control, understanding, updates and revision, and the timeliness of distributions to agency members. The major disadvantage was the ability to be immediately issue guidance reflecting current trends in law enforcement and risk control.

Since inception the NLCRPD utilized a policy management software platform that allows for the NLCRPD to enjoy many advantages as it relates to the process. For professional police agencies such as the NLCRPD the answer lies in the process of development, policy training and assuring understanding by agency members, review and evaluation of policy, and in many cases periodic review and revision for maintaining current or emergent best practices. To accomplish this task police executives must consider the legal, academic, practical, fiscal, risk control, and community standards and transparency in development of policy and written directives. Standards such as the Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies by the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission for Law Enforcement Agencies (PLEAC) the Pennsylvania state certification program provide the benchmarks for professional conduct and are an excellent cornerstone for department operations. Model policies provide a baseline to begin the development of a manual. There are a number of sources for model operating policies including the IACP National Law Enforcement Model Policy Center and state police chiefs’ associations. Because of the diversity in the size of communities, state laws, and operational philosophies between agencies, it is difficult to develop a policy that is applicable in all departments. Consequently, model policies should be thought of as general guidelines to be used in the development of the department’s manual. Academic research journals, trade magazines, and training lesson plans are a good source for policy and procedure background information and address areas that may be overlooked in particular subjects. The simple fact is that police policy directives require “thinking outside of the box” and looking forward to avoiding potential legal and community conflicts, while at the same time providing the officers a roadmap or plan to follow to implement solutions.

The NLCRPD creates, revises, and distributes policy on the Power DMS™ cloud-based policy management platform. This system allows for the distribution of policy, understanding of policy (accomplished by the administration of testing) and acknowledgment of understanding by the officer. In addition to the policy element there is the ability of the agency to use this platform as the primary means to track and submit proofs of compliance for accreditation. Since officers must be trained on the policies to ensure that they fully understand their requirements before they are implemented. This training should cover administrative and operational topics, with particular emphasis being placed on high-liability issues. This process may include both classroom as well as practical exercises. The NLCRPD incorporates this training into the Power DMS™ system, and also uses the system to illustrate best practices and sometimes even more importantly those to be avoided. A good example of this is the use of video from social media for roll call training for increased understanding by NLCRPD members of the optics on police and citizen encounters and perception of lawful police action in the community.

Not only is it important to have the proper policy and training framework established by the police agency, proper documentation, retention, and ability to offer proof of the administrative and training requirements are critical to success. In the NLCRPD operational environment the typical NLCRPD officer can access the entire NLCRPD written directive manual remotely from any handheld smart phone, iPad, or any other web-based access point. This includes all NLCRPD substations, patrol vehicles, and workstations at the NLCRPD headquarters facility.

How Policy is made