Guide to an Effective Early Warning System
Law Enforcement agencies around the country are facing an urgent dilemma. Constant scrutiny from the media and cries for increased accountability are creating shockwaves throughout the country. Without trust and legitimacy, both internal and external, police agencies cannot function effectively.
While most officers are honorable and embody professionalism, courage, and service, there are some who do not. Mounting pressure, public mistrust, and constant exposure to human hardship can take a toll on even the most resilient of officers. When that happens, it can result in a change of behavior, which if left unchecked could destroy lives, communities, agencies, and careers. Your officers and the citizens of the community you serve deserve better.
To create positive change transparency will play a vital role in the future of the law enforcement profession. For the safety and wellbeing of our officers and our communities, leaders must take proactive measures to ensure they are assuming an active role in the day-to-day workings of their departments. Early Intervention Systems (EIS) or also known as Early Warning Systems (EWS) is early in the sense that it helps to identify an officer’s unsatisfactory job performance that may not warrant formal disciplinary action yet indicate that an officer is having problems dealing with personal or job related stressors. This could impact interactions with co-workers or citizens.
A major contribution of an EI system is its ability to identify a wide range of problems and not just a system to focus on problem officers. By identifying patterns of performance problems, EWS and EIS provide the opportunity for leaders to intervene before problems lead to a serious incident such as a lawsuit, a citizen complaint over excessive force, or some other crises involving the department. An EI system warns an officer to the extent that it sends a pre-disciplinary and informal but clear message that his or her performance needs improvement.
Though never a substitute for engaged leadership, EWS and EIS can proactively help leaders identify and monitor officers’ performance in need of course correction and additional support. At the same time, these tools can also act in defense of an officer’s actions by portraying a realistic picture of their character and highlighting their performance history with the department.
No Early Warning or Early Intervention process will be effective without engaged leadership! Are you engaged? Is the leadership within the organization engaged? You need to be asking these questions.