Critical Response Toolkit: Helpful Resources

Helpful Resources [section header]
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PERF has assembled a variety of helpful resources that correspond with the three sections of this toolkit.

  • The General Resources contain a Quick Reference Guide and other documents that apply to multiple sections, as well as several COVID-19 focused policies and procedures, which could be applicable to future major events like the pandemic.
  • The Pre-Incident Resources contains training plans from partner agencies, sample training guides, and scenarios for reality-based training opportunities.
  • The During an Incident Resources contains several critical incident reference guides that provide support to incident commanders for various events.
  • The Post-Incident Resources contains guides for conducting hotwashes, debriefs, and after-action reports. This section also includes sample programs and other resources that address officer-wellness issues.

If your agency has resources that you would like PERF to consider adding to this section, please email PERF Senior Research Associate Matt Harman at [email protected].

General Resources

Critical Response Toolkit for First-Line Supervisors [pdf]
This provides the entire contents of the toolkit in one document that can more easily be printed.

Critical Response Toolkit for First-Line Supervisors: Quick Reference Guide
This tri-fold pamphlet allows first-line supervisors to easily print and carry with them a summarized version of the toolkit. The Quick Reference Guide primarily focuses on Part 2 of the Toolkit, During the Incident, so FLS’s can swiftly reference checklists and other best practices when responding to a critical incident. 

Promoting Excellence in First-Line Supervision: New Approaches to Selection, Training, and Leadership Development
This publication is a part of PERF’s Critical Issues in Policing Series and highlights the discussion that occurred among 175 police executives and sergeants on April 3, 2018, in Washington, D.C. on the importance of first-line supervisors in police agencies. Conference participants examined topics such as how crucial the rank of sergeant is to an agency, best practices for sergeant testing and selection, training first-line supervisors, and evaluating and developing sergeants’ careers. 

Research in Brief: The Untapped Potential of First-Line Supervisors
This January 2018 article from Police Chief magazine summarizes much of the research on first-line supervisors, including Dr. Robin Engel’s work on how individuals’ supervisory styles influence officer behavior.

Lessons Learned: The Role of First-Line Supervisors during COVID-19 
Through interviews and focus groups conducted via conference calls with sergeants, PERF assembled a brief report on actions, policies, and practices used by agencies and sergeants during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This resource mirrors this toolkit by outlining the lessons learned in three phases: Preparations, Action, and Assessment. 

COVID-19 Safety Guidance and Operation Protocols - Camden County (NJ) Police Department
A Special Order that provides guidelines for all Camden County Police Department (CCPD) employees. These guidelines are instructions for interacting with department members as well as the community during calls for service, with the goal of protecting the safety of all CCPD employees and the Camden community. 

COVID-19 Protocols - Tulsa Police Department
This guide, distributed by the Tulsa Police Department, provides its employees with a single source of instructions on the department’s response and changes in practice that protect employees and community members from contracting and spreading COVID-19. Sections include guidance for interacting with others, changes in dispatch and responding to calls for services, arrest procedures, and more.  


Pre-Incident Resources

Probationary Sergeant Training Plan - Tucson Police Department (TPD)
The following four documents outline TPD’s 52-week training plan for probationary sergeants.

  1. Probationary Sergeant Training Plan
    This document provides a general description of the 52-week probationary sergeant training program.
  2. Probationary Sergeant Weekly Training Assignments
    This document outlines the weekly steps and required actions probationary sergeants must complete each week throughout the duration of the 52-week probationary sergeant training period.
  3. Sergeant’s Academy Syllabus
    A 40-hour training course for newly promoted sergeants at TPD’s academy. The syllabus outlines all topics and activities that will be covered during the course. Topics and activities include conflict resolution, critical incident management, crime scene management, community engagement, and use-of-force investigations. Each day includes a scenario-based training exercise.
  4. Probationary Sergeant Training Plan Tracking Spreadsheet

Supervisors Daily Observation Report
This resource, submitted by a partner agency, is intended to report daily activities and progress during a sergeant’s field training. Criteria include managing roll call, appearance and attitude, performance during a variety of supervisory duties, and communication skills.

Blue NIMS Course - Harris County (TX) Fire Marshal’s Office (HCFMO)
The Blue NIMS© course takes the fundamental principles taught by the FEMA National Incident Management System (NIMS), as well as the Incident Command System (ICS), and links them with best practices in law enforcement and unified response operations. The following resources include the course description and overview as well as the course outline. For more information, contact HCFMO Deputy Chief Rodney Reed at [email protected]

  1. Course Overview
  2. Course Outline


Media Relations Resources - IACP  
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has assembled various resources and considerations for agencies needing assistance creating a public information office, gaining a better understanding of the importance of a good media relations strategy, and improving the communication flow from an agency to its community stakeholders. This resource is useful for FLSs whose agencies allow them to interact with the media or FLSs who would like to learn media relations best practices.

Social Media Guidebook for Law Enforcement Agencies: Strategies for Effective Community Engagement - Urban Institute
This resource from the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center provides a strategy for promoting an agency’s social media and using it as a tool for community engagement. The guidebook lays out a four-step strategy for agencies that want to improve their use of social media as a community policing tool. The steps include assess your agency’s current social media use and capacity, establish goals, measure progress, and use data-driven strategies to help reach your social media goals. Many of these same principles and strategies apply to critical incident response as well.


Tabletop Scenario Examples

This resource provides seven sample table-top scenarios for First-Line Supervisors (FLSs). Agency trainers may use them to supplement existing in-service training programs or as templates for designing new curriculum.

Subject Matter Experts (SME) from PERF developed each scenario to challenge the decision-making abilities of both new and veteran FLSs. When conducting table-top scenario exercises, agency trainers must act as facilitators who guide the participants through each scenario by presenting the situation in stages, then asking tough, thought-provoking questions at each stage about how the FLSs will respond. After gathering the responses, the facilitator should offer alternate viewpoints for the FLSs to consider before moving to the next stage of the event. The overall role of the facilitator is to generate thoughtful discussion throughout the entire scenario based upon the decisions and overall performance of the participating FLSs.


During an Incident Resources

Integrating Communications, Assessment, and Tactics (ICAT) - Module 2: The Critical Decision-Making Model (CDM)
PERF first developed its ICAT training in 2016. A crucial component of this training is the CDM, which provides a process for how law enforcement personnel can efficiently make sensible decisions during high-pressure situations. The CDM can help sergeants make decisions in a variety of circumstances, including during a critical incident. The linked training will teach law enforcement of all ranks the key principles of the CDM. It also helps FLSs understand and articulate the benefits of the CDM. 

Critical Incident Checklist: The “Cook” Book Guide to Managing Critical Incidents - Arlington (TX) Police Department
Developed by Lt. Christopher Cook and Zhivonni Cook of the Arlington, (TX) Police Department, this resource provides valuable information and a checklist for planning and organizing an agency’s communication strategy with the media during and after a critical incident. There are scenario-specific checklists for Public Information Officers (PIOs) to consult, PIO roles and responsibilities, strategies for working around news cycles, tips for conducting press conferences, and more general communications strategies. This is a useful resource for FLSs who may have PIO responsibilities during a critical incident or who may need to provide support to an agency PIO. 

Officer-Involved Shooting and In-Custody Death Scene Reference Guide - Tucson Police Department
This reference guide from the Tucson Police Department, a partner agency, lists the required procedures that incident commanders must complete during the response to officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths.

Tulsa Police Department’s Critical Incident Response Manual
This manual is from the Tulsa Police Department, one of our partner agencies, and includes a decision making chart for law enforcement responding to a critical incident. It also includes checklists for 10 critical incident scenarios and a sample after action report. Parts of this guide are specific to Tulsa, but it can be used as a reference for other agencies and first-line supervisors.



Post-Incident Resources

Hot Washes, Debriefs and After-Action Reports

Hot Wash Form – FEMA
FEMA uses this Hot Wash Form in training exercises. It can also serve as a basic model for other agencies that wish to implement hot washes.  The form prompts participants of the hot wash to list the top three organizational strengths, top three items for improvement, and general comments on the incident.  

Briefing and Debriefing Guidance - College of Policing
From the College of Policing in the United Kingdom, this document provides guidance on how to brief before an incident and how to debrief after one.

Post Incident Supervisor or Senior Officer Led Debriefings - New York City Police Department
The NYPD provides guidance to its members on facilitating a debriefing. This resource discusses how to conduct an in-formal debriefing with patrol officers post incident.

Debriefing Procedure for Critical Incidents - Wiltshire Police
From the Wiltshire Police in the United Kingdom, this document provides guidance on the benefits of debriefing an incident, different kinds of debriefs, and how to hold an effective debrief.

Debriefing and After-Action Report Policy - Riverside (CA) Police Department 
(Page 66 - Policy 301, “Debriefing of Critical Incidents”)
This policy details how to debrief and produce an after-action report following a critical incident.  It describes the process for both components, gives a timeline for each, and includes a section on how to retain reports for future reference.

After-Action Policy and Report Format - Seattle Police Department
This policy on After-Action Reports addresses when to complete a report, who is involved in the process, and how the report is disseminated in the department.

Critical Incident Review Board – Operations Pamphlet - Tucson Police Department
The Tucson Police Department conducts a Critical Incident Review Board after major incidents such as an officer-involved shooting, pursuits that result in serious injury or death, events where police action caused a loss of public confidence in law enforcement. This pamphlet outlines the purpose and parameters of a Critical Incident Review Board.

Making the Most of your After Action Review - Justice Clearinghouse
This is a transcript of a webinar, “Making the Most of your After Action Review,” hosted by Rob Trivino.  The webinar discusses the key components of an after action review, how to run a review, and possible roadblocks agencies may encounter while implementing reviews.  The full webinar is available for purchase as part of a course on after action reviews.


Officer Wellness

Building and Sustaining an Officer Wellness Program: Lessons from the San Diego Police Department - PERF
The Police Executive Research Forum published this report highlighting the San Diego Police Department’s officer wellness programs.  After a string of traumatic incidents involving officers in 2011, the department responded by forming a Wellness Unit.  The unit focuses on supporting the physical and emotional health of all members of the department.  This report documents the main components of the wellness initiative and provides promising practices for other agencies to consider.

The Law Enforcement Critical Incident Handbook - Jack Digliani
This handbook provides information for law enforcement officers who have recently experienced a critical incident. It discusses the impact of critical incidents on an officer’s mental health, stress management and wellness strategies, and suggestions for agency protocols that support officers after critical incidents.

Law Enforcement Agency and Officer Resilience Training Program - IACP
The IACP has various resources on officer wellness, including a webinar on vicarious trauma, infographics on supporting law enforcement families, model policies, and reports on officer suicide.

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Protocol and 
Police Survival Handout - Cambridge (MA) Police Department
These resources from the Cambridge (MA) Police Department provide agency-specific information on activating the department’s CISM protocol. Other documents include the policy and procedures of the Greater Boston CISM Team as well as helpful strategies for confronting officers who have experienced a critical incident.

Peer-2-Peer Support Program and
Peer-2-Peer Resources -Tulsa Police Department
These documents provide information on the Tulsa Police Department’s peer support program as well as agency-specific contact information and national resources for those struggling with depression, suicide, substance abuse, family issues, and grief.

Mental Health Resources for NYPD Members - New York City Police Department 
This website lists the range of mental health and wellness resources that are available to members of the NYPD. It includes both internal resources such as the Employee Assistance Unit and the peer support program, and a variety of external resources. 

An Occupational Risk: What Every Police Agency Should Do To Prevent Suicide Among Its Officers - PERF
In response to a national surge of police suicides, the Police Executive Research Forum partnered with the New York City Police Department to host a day-long conference that discussed the extent and nature of police suicides and shared best practices for expanding officer wellness opportunities across the field. This report highlights the day’s discussions and examines additional research from the field.  


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This project was supported, in whole or in part, by cooperative agreement number 2018CKWXK016 awarded to the Police Executive Research Forum by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.