• IACP Quick Take: Why the fight against the opioid crisis can’t stop with naloxone

    Cole Zercoe
    Author: Cole Zercoe

    PHILADELPHIA — America is in the midst of an opioid crisis, and police officers are on the front line of the epidemic. Agencies are increasingly outfitting their officers with the overdose reversal drug naloxone, but that’s only half the battle. Naloxone saves lives, but it doesn’t stop addiction. At the 124th International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, three panelists outlined the importance of pre-arrest diversion programs.

    PARTICIPANTS Jac Charlier, National Director for Justice Initiatives, Center for Health and Justice at TASC Eric Guenther, Chief of Police, Mundelein (Ill.) Police Department John Tharp, Sheriff, Lucas County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office QUICK SUMMARY

    Charlier highlighted five pre-arrest diversion frameworks designed to maximize the pathways to treatment for addicts in your community.

    Naloxone Plus: Engaging with an overdose victim about treatment options after administering naloxone. The “plus” is the second life-saving effort you’re offering – treatment – after you’ve saved the victim’s life with a naloxone dose. Some models your agency can follow include the STEER, QRT, and DART programs. Active Outreach: Police initially seek and ID individuals they believe are in need of help and make a warm handoff (introduce the addict to a behavioral health professional in person) to treatment. Some examples of these are PAARI and QRT. Self-Referral: Addicts initiate contact with law enforcement, which then makes a warm handoff to treatment. You need to inform your community members that they can come to your agency for help with their addiction without fear of being arrested. The Angel and PAARI programs are some examples your agency can adopt. Officer Prevention Referral: When officers encounter someone engaged in illegal drug use, they do not file charges and instead initiate treatment engagement. Examples include LEAD and STEER. Officer Intervention Referral: A less commonly used option; the officer suspends charges against the person engaged in illegal drug activity in exchange for the completion of drug treatment. Examples include CCN, LEAD, and STEER. 3 KEY TAKEAWAYS

    1. Build trust.

    Panelist John Tharp, who started the DART program in Lucas County, Ohio, noted that it’s important to stress to officers that they need to build meaningful relationships with the addicts they’re responding to. He tells his officers not to try to make informants out of them in the initial stages of relationship building. Over time, as your police force assists addicts with getting the help they need, this segment of your community not only sees the police in a positive light, but is more willing to assist in investigations. Tharp told the audience the positive feedback he’s received about his officers since the start of the program has been “amazing,” and the county just recently indicted a slew of major drug dealers with the aid of information that came directly from opioid addicts they had helped.

    2. Time is of the essence.

    Addicts need treatment now, not later. The longer it takes to connect an addict to treatment after an OD or when they’re actively seeking help, the more likely it is that they will no longer be receptive to treatment. When the Mundelein PD started their program, they knew it was vital to have a system that never turned a person away. “If we had to say no, we knew it would fail immediately,” panelist Eric Guenther said. Speed requires building relationships with your area treatment centers and major hospitals in a tiered system (primary care provider, etc.). On average, Guenther can get an addict in a bed within 90 minutes of contact.

    3. Get the word out.

    Work with hospitals, defense attorneys, the probation department, and the DA to get referrals. Market your product directly to the people who need it – go out and visit 12 step programs and other places where people suffering from addiction will be.


    Since starting their program, the Mundelein PD found most overdose victims need inpatient, not outpatient treatment. According to Guenther, many addicts said that they had done outpatient treatment multiple times without success, but their first inpatient treatment kept them on the path to recovery.

    Officers need to understand what the timeframe of recovery looks like so they can have realistic expectations with the people they’re contacting. Recovery occurs over years, not weeks.

    The Mundelein PD’s program was a direct result of feedback from street cops. The officers carry naloxone, and many aired their frustrations over responding to the same OD victims repeatedly.

    The biggest advocates of the program are the users themselves. The more success you have, the more the word will get out about your program.

    It’s not just about saving lives. Getting addicts into recovery decreases crime, results in better community-police relations, helps with overcrowding issues in correctional facilities and saves taxpayer money.

  • IACP Quick Take: How to attract diverse candidates to your agency

    Cole Zercoe
    Author: Cole Zercoe

    PHILADELPHIA — Diversity in your police force is a crucial component to a successful agency, but when it’s already a challenge to fill the ranks, attracting female and minority applicants requires a smart and innovative approach. At the 124th International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, the Michigan State Police outlined the steps they took to get a more diverse applicant pool.

    PARTICIPANTS Robert Hendrix, MSP Commander Rick Arnold, MSP Lieutenant Colonel Monica Yesh, MSP Captain QUICK SUMMARY

    Since refocusing their recruitment efforts, the MSP has boosted diversity in their ranks. From the period of 2011 to 2014, 85 percent of the agency was made up of white males. From 2014 to the present, that number has dropped to 75 percent. While the agency says there’s still much more work to be done, this meaningful improvement is a direct result of changes to their recruitment strategies.


    1. Make the hiring process easier.

    Hendrix spearheaded improvements to the agency’s hiring process, including:

    Updating their 20-year-old entry exam, a key component of which was eliminating an essay portion that was the cause of a three- to four-month turnaround time for results. Now, results come back in less than two weeks. Consider the passing rate and how long it’s taking to get results back when reviewing your entry exam for potential updates. Going paperless. The entire process is now digital – applicants upload required documents, can check the status of their application and receive direct personalized notifications from the system. Millennials were raised on the internet – don’t turn them off with the inefficient, inconvenient and sluggish paper system. Road shows. The MSP started taking entrance exams, agility testing, and pre-screening interviews to their applicants through partnerships with colleges. No one wants to drive two hours just to take a 15-minute questionnaire.

    2. Build trust.

    The MSP has partnerships with faith-based organizations, community organizations, schools, veterans affairs and military units to build trust and goodwill with the public, particularly minorities. Since 2012, they’ve held over 60 percent of their recruiting events in urban areas.

    3. Listen to and address fears of potential applicants.

    Some saw the MSP as an elite agency and believed they were not needed or wanted, or that they wouldn’t qualify. Others feared being assigned a post far away from their home. The agency holds women’s recruiting seminars where part of the focus is on fears and challenges specific to women – how to navigate the difficulties of being a mom and a cop, for example.

    4. Think “see to be.”

    If you want diversity in your agency, you need to broadcast diversity. The MSP updated all their promotional materials – website, rack cards, recruitment videos and posters – to reflect diversity in the agency. The women’s recruiting seminars hold Q&As with a diverse panel of female speakers (background, ethnicity, rank, specialty, years in service, etc.) to discuss the nature of the work and how they overcame difficult moments in their careers. The seminars also highlight the history of female officers in the agency. Applicants need to see themselves in the position – all of the above steps help them build confidence that they can do the job.


    One of the key components of the MSP’s strategy is continued communication with recruitment event attendees. Get their contact information the day of the event and follow up – don’t leave people hanging.

    Not enough women in your agency to hold a women’s seminar? Team up with other agencies in the area.

    The MSP treats recruitment as a job everyone shares, and your best recruiters (and bang for your buck) are out in the field. Your street cops should be actively recruiting because your strongest product is the public seeing you out there in action.

  • IACP Quick Take: Why local beats viral when building a social media strategy

    Author: Cole Zercoe

    By Nancy Perry, PoliceOne Editor in Chief

    PHILADELPHIA — Generating local and relevant content that engages your community is the key to a successful police social media program.

    During their session at the 124th annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, Parker (Colo.) Police Department Professional Standards Commander Chris Peters and PIO Josh Hans reviewed how to develop a social media communication strategy where the emphasis is on local connections rather than on going viral.

    Memorable quotes

    Here are some of the most memorable quotes from the presentation:

    “Our Chief’s vision is that marketing what our police department does is as important as what we do.” – Chris Peters

    “Pick the number of social media channels you have time to properly manage. Don’t be active on six different platforms if you can’t be responsive.” – Josh Hans

    “The media only covers bad news. People have no idea how many great programs police departments have. They know you write tickets, but they need to know the many good things you are doing.” – Josh Hans

    “Response time is as important for social media as it is for police calls.” – John Hans

    3 key take-ways

    1. Focus on building an online presence that serves your community

    The first step toward a successful campaign is selecting those social media channels your community already uses. The Parker Police Department is active on Facebook, Twitter and Nextdoor.

    “We picked three channels because we knew we only had the capacity to properly manage that many. As Parker is a suburban community, Nextdoor is a good fit as those followers are generally more active in our community. For example, about 40 percent of the registrants for classes we offer come from Nextdoor,” Hans said. “If a department is located in a university town, I would recommend Snapchat and Instagram. It is important to understand your community and the social media platforms they already use in their daily life.”

    Push it Real Good! Officer Yowell pushin it like @TheSaltNPepa for a @townofparkerco resident. pic.twitter.com/yp6EkgmnN4

    — Parker Police Dept. (@ParkerPolice) October 13, 2017

    Once you select the platforms, you need to proactively engage key influencers within those social media channels.

    “Facebook changes algorithms all the times,” Hans said, “so your police department page - which functions as a business page - may not get the level of engagement personal Facebook pages receive. Some estimates say that only about 14 percent of your followers see your posts, whereas people see posts from their friends all the time. Facebook is actively prioritizing personal pages over business pages.”

    The first step to combatting this is to identify the “tastemakers” in your community.

    “Reach out to these people ahead of time to start a conversation with them,” Hans said. “Invite them to your agency to show them all the programs you are involved with. For example, Parker’s mayor is very influential on social media and he shares our posts.”

    Local community groups can also become advocates of your social media pages and share content. “The Free in Parker Community Group on Facebook is very active and shares our posts on a regular basis,” Hans said

    2. Use social media as a two-way source of information

    Social media isn’t just about promoting the good things your officers do in the community. It can also be an important source for police departments to receive information from the community.

    “When you are searching for a suspect, people in your community are going to help you get your message out,” Hans said. “For example, with missing persons where time is critical, you can use social media to quickly get information out to people.”

    (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = 'https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10'; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

    Legend Band Equipment Stolen Overnight One week before the 5A Marching Band State Championship, thieves stole equipment...

    Posted by Parker Police Department on Thursday, October 19, 2017

    The Parker Police Department also uses its social media channel to provide general information for residents about things like closures of larger roads and other events that could impact public safety.

    For this to be successful though, notes Hans, you must respond to any questions the community posts on your pages.

    3. Become the source of news

    Today many of us consume our news through social media. And fake news can fly fast on the internet. If a police department has an active social media presence it can handle rumor abatement and take control of the dialogue.

    Resident's dog was eaten by a coyote this week. @COParksWildlife has tips on living with coyotes in CO: https://t.co/8q7pkvyAN5 pic.twitter.com/y4MrxRph0Y

    — Parker Police Dept. (@ParkerPolice) September 20, 2017

    “When an incident happens, you want to get information out right away on your social media platforms to calm the fears of your community. This reinforces to them that you are the source for information when something big happens,” Hans said. He cites the success of the Boston Police Department during the marathon bombing when the agency’s social media activity made it the news source for the world.

    3 best practices
      How do you want your agency and officers to be perceived by your community? The Parker Police Department came up with 10 inspirational words it wanted the community to associate with its officers and then uses those words within social media posts. Don’t focus on the numbers. Chasing Facebook fans or Twitter followers is not as important as finding the right people to engage with. Focus on the conversation and the connections with follow. As more than 75 percent of the fans of the Parker Police Department’s Facebook page are locals, the department is reaching those individuals who are impacted by community events. At the same time, engaging posts will always be shared and reach the larger social media community. Transparency pays off. After sharing a post about an excessive speeding campaign, even Hans was surprised by the 80-plus comments the agency received - all positive - showing how the community appreciated the police for all their efforts to keep them safe. “To receive positive comments like that is proof of performance. We did two days of speed traps and the community thanked us!” Hans said.
    Learn more

    4 ways social media can help police departments

    Thinking outside the box: Police use of social media to catch criminals

    When the PD social media policy meets the First Amendment

    8 tips for controlling obscenities and trolls on your PD’s Facebook

    How to boost engagement on your agency's Facebook page

    What Ferguson can teach police about social media strategy

  • IACP Quick Take: Oregon's approach to addressing mental health and crisis response

    Author: Cole Zercoe

    By Nancy Perry, PoliceOne Editor in Chief

    PHILADELPHIA — More than four million residents call Oregon home. Sadly thousands within the state live with some form of mental illness. Police have been interacting with people in crisis for decades but never before has there been so much attention to how, when and why.

    The Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association formed a work group to develop a statewide policy framework that can be scaled for use by a 2-person, 20-person or 600-person law enforcement agency. The work group also developed training recommendations for basic academy, in-service and crisis intervention team (CIT) training.

    At the 124th annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, members of the work group outlined their policy framework and detailed how agencies could deploy similar best practices.

    Panelists Eriks Gabliks, director, Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Troy Clausen, undersheriff, Marion County Sheriff's Office Jim Ferraris, chief of police, City of Woodburn Police Department Kevin Rau, Crisis Intervention Program training coordinator, Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Memorable Quotes

    “If we don’t have collaboration, we just end up bringing individuals in crisis to our jails, which were never designed to be psychiatric crisis centers.” – Troy Clausen

    “We needed to develop a best practice document that any agency could take and expand to their needs.” – Kevin Rau

    “A key strategy is partnership with the mental health community. None of this can be done alone.” – Kevin Rau

    “Are we putting police officers through crisis training that is based on real-life circumstances?” – Kevin Rau

    Effective response strategies
      Partner with the mental health community. “The entire nation is asking us, as professionals, to deal with this problem, but it will take a village to help with this issue,” Clausen said. The success of Oregon’s approach is based on the partnerships law enforcement has put in place, which have led to successful collaborations in care. Work directly with emergency hospitals. Law enforcement must work with ER staff and the ED director and have a liaison identified within the LE community for outreach, Rau said. Develop a strong commitment to law enforcement liaison with mental health community. Provide training for the entire public safety system (LE, EMS/fire, dispatch, DA, mental health, city/county leaders). Deploy and train specialized officers and mental health counterparts. Grant money has been used to pair up a deputy or officer with a mental health expert to form a Mobile Crisis Team unit that can respond to mental health calls when requested by a patrol officer. Use specialized non-police responders. Non-police responders are also being utilized like fire and EMS. Such response also needs to be paired with diversion to outpatient treatment of some kind, notes Rau. Use of less-lethal tools. “We needed to look at the right training for the use of less-lethal tools with individuals suffering a mental health crisis and training the right way with bean bag guns, TASERs and other tools available,” Rau said. Develop more mental health-centric scenario training. Work with stakeholders. Provide outpatient treatment. Partner with crisis hotlines. Police officers and hostage negotiators spend time manning crisis lines so they can get experience talking to these people. This offers the officers the chance to get training and improve their communication skills while actually helping save lives. Increase the amount of 24/7 Crisis Response Sites. Establish jail-based diversion. Utilize mental health courts.

    For more information, visit the Oregon Knowledge Bank.

    Learn more

    2 reasons cops should not respond to non-violent mental health calls

    What the public needs to know about police de-escalation tactics

    New style of policing works to defuse mental health crises

    Police use of force, CEWs, and the mentally ill

    Officers trained to deal with mental illness in short supply

    Texas officer explains how cops respond to mental health calls

  • Man with knife injures 4 people in Munich; arrest made

    Author: Cole Zercoe

    Associated Press

    BERLIN — A man with a knife attacked four people in Munich on Saturday and then fled, police said. A suspect was arrested a few hours later, and authorities were working to determine whether he was the assailant.

    Police received initial reports of an attack in the Haidhausen area, just east of downtown Munich, at about 8:30 a.m., spokesman Marcus da Gloria Martins said. They determined that a lone attacker apparently had gone after passers-by indiscriminately with a knife.

    The assailant attacked six people — five men and one woman — at different sites in the area, with four of them wounded and none seriously, da Gloria Martins said. They mainly had superficial stab wounds and in one case had been hit, he added.

    After the attack, police took to Twitter to warn people in the Rosenheimer Platz area to stay indoors and cautioned them to avoid the area around the nearby Ostbahnhof railway station and a park amid conflicting accounts of the direction in which the suspect fled.

    Police also issued a description of the suspect, who they said appeared to be about 40 years old and had a black bicycle, gray trousers, a green jacket and a backpack. They decribed him as having a "corpulent figure" and added that he had short blond hair and was unshaven.

    About three hours after the stabbing, police arrested a man matching that description who initially tried to evade officers. "We can't yet confirm whether he is the perpetrator," da Gloria Martins said.

    There was no immediate word on a possible motive.

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