by Ian D Scofield
Recently I have posted a lot of articles about creating specific policies but we haven't talked too much about creating policy in general. Today I am going to touch on some important things to consider when making department policy. Passing policy may feel easy at first but it can take a lot of work.
I have already mentioned before that I am not a fan of creating blanket policies. There should always be room for exceptions when it is needed. Balancing being specific and vague is part of the art of creating policies.
Without further ado, let's look at some of the important things to keep in mind when creating policy.
It is redundant, but having a policy for how your department creates policies can spell out what your administrators can and can't do when crafting policy. The policy should spell out how to create policy, when you can create policy, who can make the decisions on policy, and who will be consulted before anything is passed.
It also prevents supervisors and managers from creating policy on the spot. Random policies make it hard for officers to do their job and leaves it vague when it comes time to actually act on the policy.
One of the most important things that you need to look at when you are creating policy, is the law. A variety of different laws might apply to your workplace. Federal labor laws, state labor laws, and local laws can all apply to your department. Most of these laws can be accessed online for free.
Some examples of commonly regulated workplace topics are:
Now these are just some of the labor law areas that you need to keep in mind. Department policies will also address areas such as running code and use of force.
Granted, most of the time if you are creating a policy, you are doing so because someone did something that they shouldn't have or something happened that shouldn't have. This isn't always the case though. When you sit down to craft the policy, one of the first steps should be to determine if you actually need a policy to address that specific issue.
Policies shouldn't be created to spite or "get back" at officers. Depsite this being common sense, it has happened before. They should be created to address real issues.
While you are looking into whether you need a policy or not, also check to see if one of your existing policies addresses the issue or comes close to addressing it. You can always change an existing policy to encompass something new.
How you word policies that you create can make a big difference in how they are received. Policies that are worded diplomatically are more likely to been seen with positive eyes when viewed by the rank and file.
The specific words that you use can also determine how effective the policy is. A lack of consideration into the specific words can leave your policy having loop holes. Think of all the different ways that your policy could be violated and try to encompass them in the wording.
Lastly, remember what I said about blanket policies. Make sure that the wording is specific to what the policy is designed to cover. Almost every rule out there has an exception, so make sure that you try to build an exception clause into the policy.
Most, if not all, law enforcement agencies belong to some form of union. Unions are powerful groups, and there is good reason behind that. The union that your officers join is designed to represent them. Unions work as a way to unite officers but also to protect them.
Any policy that you are thinking about implementing should be run by the union. This allows you to gather their input on the policy. Depending on the specific policy, you may or may not need the union's approval in order to pass the policy.
The best point at which to ask for the union's input is when you have already performed your research and drafted up the policy. You don't want to ask about something that is merely an idea, you might not be able to convey the message that you want to.
As time goes on policies will need to be changed and updated. Creating a way to identify policy versions is always a helpful tool. Policy version numbers will help officers to determine if they are using the most up to date version of the rule book and correct themselves if they aren't.
Take these tips into mind whenever you are thinking about crafting new policy. The better your policies, the less likely they will be to cause problems. Poor policy creation can lead to issues down the road such as lawsuits. By passing good policy, you are protecting your officers and your department.
As always, be safe out there!
About The Author:
Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer. At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content. Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.