Join the Upcoming Free Indicators of Impairment Webinar

Although the indicators of impairment from alcohol are familiar and well know, impairment by other drugs may be harder to detect and describe. 

A webinar set for 2 to 3:30 p.m. August 12 will discuss the indicators of impairment officers can expect to see with drivers who are suspected to be under the influence of drugs other than alcohol, especially with respect to the SFSTs.  This session will also discuss the validation of the SFSTs for drug impaired driving cases.

This session will be presented by Joseph Jones, System Director, from the North Louisiana Criminalistics Laboratory.

There is no charge to attend this webinar, but you must register in advance by clicking here:

This webinar will be worth 1.8 hours of CLE, Missouri Bar Course Number 681493.  It is also worth 1.5 hours of POST credit in the area of Technical Studies.  

Officers who wish to receive POST credit should pay special attention to the instructions below.  Be advised that there will be polls conducted during this webinar to ensure your attentiveness.  You MUST respond to EVERY poll (and your response must be recorded by the system) in order to receive POST credit—NO EXCEPTIONS.

To ensure a smooth registration process, please register at least 4 hours in advance of the webinar.  You will receive a confirmation email with a link to join the webinar after your registration is approved.  If you do not receive this email, please contact me ASAP.  I will not be able to help you join if you contact me right before the webinar or after the webinar is already in session.  

Also, if you cannot attend this webinar at the scheduled time but want to watch it, please go ahead and register and you will automatically receive a link to a recording two days after the presentation.

Instructions Concerning POST Credit for Webinars

POST requires that law enforcement attendance at webinars be monitored during the course of the webinar. This monitoring will occur in several ways. First, poll questions will pop up periodically during the webinar which law enforcement officers will be required to answer. Law enforcement officers will need to respond to these questions promptly after the poll is sent out. The poll will remain open for only a short time to minimize interruption to the presentation. If the system does not record a response from you for all of the poll question(s), you will NOT receive POST credit for the webinar. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Also, the webinar program monitors and rates all attendees’ level of attentiveness during the webinar. It tracks whether your screen is minimized, how often your mouse is moved, whether you submitted questions to the presenter, and whether you responded to the poll(s). Based on all of these factors, the program rates your level of attentiveness. An exceptionally low rating may affect your ability to receive POST credit. To ensure that you do receive credit, please keep the webinar screen maximized, occasionally move your mouse during the session, and respond to all poll questions.

Law enforcement officers who receive an adequate attentiveness score will receive a POST certificate for the webinar via the email address used to register for the webinar. Please note that only one officer per email address may receive POST credit. Only the person registered to view the webinar through a specific email address may receive credit.

Please also note that if you wish to receive POST credit for attending this webinar, you MUST enter your POST license number when registering. We will not be able to issue a certificate unless this number is provided.

Finally, be advised that watching this webinar on a phone or other mobile device may prevent you from responding to the polls as required. If you are not able to respond to the polls, you will not be awarded credit—no exceptions. Also, if you attend via telephone only, i.e. you call in and can hear the discussion but not see the presentation, there will be no record of your attendance and credit will not be awarded—no exceptions.

If you have questions or concerns about receiving POST credit for a webinar, please feel free to contact me at or at 573-301-2630.

Susan Glass, Deputy Director/Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor

Missouri Office of Prosecution Services

Speaker To Address Kids’ Access To Online Porn, At Camdenton Event On Tuesday

Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Missouri will host CWA of Missouri Legislative Liaison, Alissa Johnson at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27 at the Key Gathering Place, 1160 S. Business Route 5, Camdenton, Mo. Johnson will speak on the Protect Young Minds Online Act (PYMOA).

Alissa leads a CWA of Missouri legislative team at the Missouri State Capitol in advocating for the passage of PYMOA – legislation that will require internet service providers in the state to add a filter to protect children from viewing pornography/obscenity online. This legislation is the first and only of its kind and has been vetted and supported by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. 

More than forty years ago, Missouri lawmakers created a Missouri statute that would make furnishing pornographic material to minors a Class A misdemeanor. The statute has never been updated to include the internet. Presently, minors are accessing pornography/obscenity via the internet on their cell phones, home computers, friends’ laptops/tablets, etc. The PYMOA will be a partial remedy for that.

Governor Parson Announces $4 Million in New Grant Programs to Combat Crimes Against Children and Provide Additional Support to Crime Victim Service Agencies

Governor Mike Parson announced $4 million in new grant opportunities to combat crimes against children and to provide additional funding to agencies that provide services to crime victims.

“The last two years have created hardships and strained resources across the nation, but the reported rise in crimes affecting children and the difficulties experienced by agencies that provide vital services to crime victims is most concerning,” Governor Parson said. “These new grant programs will allow us to better investigate and prosecute criminals who victimize children and support domestic violence service agencies and child advocacy centers who serve our most vulnerable citizens and help bring criminals to justice.”

A total of $2 million in grant opportunities is being made available to assist local law enforcement and prosecutors to combat crimes against children, which rose in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. An additional $2 million in grant opportunities is being made available to support crime victim service agencies, which have reported increases in service referrals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two competitive grants will utilize funds previously allocated to Missouri from the federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program (CESF). The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance has approved the reallocation of CESF program funds to meet emergent needs that were not apparent when the CESF opportunity was originally made available. There is no local match required to access the funding. The grants will be administered by the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

The funding opportunity for the Crimes Against Children/Sex Crimes Grant is expected to open August 1, 2021. Projects may include hiring additional staff to investigate, prosecute, and detect crimes against children.  

The funding opportunity for the Victims of Crime Grant is expected to open September 1, 2021. Projects may include providing resource assistance to domestic violence service agencies and child advocacy centers and aiding other entities serving victims from vulnerable populations adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal Bill Seeks To Protect Qualified Immunity For Cops To Prevent Frivolous Lawsuits

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-22) on July 15, unveiled details of her legislation, the Local Law Enforcement Protection Act, that protects qualified immunity for police officers serving at the state and local level. 

Tenney’s bill would prevent state and local governments that remove qualified immunity protections for police from applying for certain federal grants. 

Tenney has also released a comprehensive plan to support law enforcement officers and unite our communities by keeping illegal firearms off the street, boosting community-based policing, and supporting policies that provide law enforcement officers with the tools and resources to do their jobs.

“Our Law Enforcement Officers put their lives on the line every day at great personal risk. In the last year alone, police have faced unprecedented challenges like the pandemic and increasing crime. Accountability and transparency are vital, but removing qualified immunity achieves neither. It opens police officers to unfair and frivolous attacks simply for doing their jobs. At a time when activists and politicians in Washington are demonizing and defunding our police, I’m honored to stand with them to deliver the resources and support to keep our communities safe,” said Congresswoman Tenney.

The past two years have marked the deadliest period for law enforcement in decades. In 2020 alone, 264 police officers died in the line of duty. So far this year, at least 148 officers have tragically died. 

Tenney was joined at the announcement by NY Assemblyman John Salka,Madison County Sheriff Todd Hood, Oswego County Sheriff Don Hilton, Cortland County Undersheriff Budd Rigg, Sherrill Police Chief Rob Drake, Oneida County Undersheriff Joe Lisi, City of Cortland Police Chief Paul Sandy, City of Oneida Police Chief John Little and Deputy Chief Steven Lowell, City of Sherill and Camden Police Department Officer Dan Salce, Canastota Interim Chief of Police Shawn Barton, Madison County Chief Assistant District Attorney Bob Mascari, and Madison County Chairman John Becker. 

“I proudly support this legislation, which protects law enforcement officers and allows them to do their job,”said Salka. “These brave men and women put their lives on the line each day to protect our communities. As crime rates surge across the state, it is of the utmost importance that we defend our police to ensure they are allowed to do their jobs and continue to keep our communities safe.”

 “The men and women in law enforcement have sworn an oath to protect and serve. But we are facing unprecedented threats every day that hinder that. The rise in violent crimes, the defund the police movement, and New York State’s Bail Reform law all make our jobs more dangerous and tie our hands. This legislation will help protect our officers from frivolous attacks, allowing us to do our jobs to protect our community. At the same time make sure those who need to be held accountable, will be,” said Sheriff Hood. 

Details of the Local Law Enforcement Protection Act

  • Ensures all states follow the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Saucier v. Katz, which found that a law enforcement officer can only be found liable in civil suits if the officer’s conduct violated a clearly established constitutional right.
  • In order to apply for and receive specified federal grants, states and localities must certify that it is in compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision and has not taken steps to limit qualified immunity for law enforcement officers. 
  • A jurisdiction that is unable to make such certification will be ineligible for funding. Any jurisdiction that improperly certifies compliance will be subject to legal action. 
  • This new requirement will apply to the following federal grant programs: 
    • Community Development Block Grant Program
    • USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program

Missouri Would Get $500M Under Opioid Settlement

By Associated Press for Missouri Lawyers Media |


The attorney general on Thursday, July 22 said Missouri could get as much as $500 million to help victims of the opioid epidemic as part of a tentative settlement with the three biggest U.S. drug distribution companies and the drug maker Johnson & Johnson.

Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt said it would be the biggest “victim-centric” settlement ever in Missouri.

“While this proposed settlement won’t bring back any of these victims, today’s announcement brings the very real possibility of just over half a billion dollars that will go directly toward funding crucial addiction treatment, recovery, and intervention programs,” Schmitt said in a statement.

Lawyers for state and local governments in the U.S. on Tuesday announced they were close to reaching a $26 billion settlement after suing to force the pharmaceutical industry to help pay to fix a nationwide opioid addiction and overdose crisis.

Under the deal, Johnson & Johnson would not produce any opioids for at least a decade. And AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson share prescribing information under a new system intended to stop the avalanches of pills that arrived in some regions about a decade ago.

Schmitt said Missouri counties need to sign on to the agreement for the state to get its full share.

Training day: Documentary Provides Perspective on Police Mental Health Response

Law enforcement agencies can stream “Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops” for free through May 2022 to better prepare cops to respond to people in crisis.

By Joel Shults for

Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops” is a 95-minute HBO documentary about two members of the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit (MHU). The film explores the experiences of these two Texas police officers who use de-escalation techniques to resolve mental health calls. The film aims to spark dialogue about the culture of policing and better prepare cops to respond to people in crisis, according to the documentary’s filmmakers

Police agencies may register for unlimited free streaming access to the documentary. A 25-minute version is also available. Register here using code EJCC-POLICE1. Suggested questions for your shift, squad or department to discuss after viewing the documentary are listed at the end of this article.

Viewers will see actual encounters between Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro with persons in distress. All the narrative of the video is done by the partners. Ernie is the most senior officer and a charter member of the unit. Joe is the younger. Although the unit has grown in numbers, it is clear from the in-car computer that the list of mental health-related requests rolls along in the list of pending calls. Their numbers are too high for the specialized unit to respond to all of them, validating the growing narrative of mental health issues growing beyond law enforcement’s capacity to handle them. The special unit is only able to handle far fewer than even 10% of the crisis calls that come in.

As the list of pending calls shows the label of mental health on the roster, the narration explains that “mental health” was not even a call category with dispatch until the formation of the MHU. Categories of disturbance, suicidal subject, family disputes, or other labels covered the event.


Ernie and Joe are shown conducting training with both law enforcement and other professionals who encounter persons in mental health crisis. Using guest speakers who deal with mental health issues, the crisis cops help others understand the role of the MHU, as well as provide insight on working with persons in crisis toward a peaceful conclusion of a contact. MHU officers also do follow-up contacts to help ensure that their subjects’ referrals and available services are being accessed. Not all long-term hopes for those they intercede with are met, but the success stories are motivational.

Ernie and Joe acknowledge that there is skepticism among police officers for their philosophy of interacting with disturbed persons. They work in plain clothes in an unmarked car, although they are clear about identifying themselves as police officers. Officers watching the film will shudder as they see traditional officer safety tactics set aside. Although in one scenario where a weapon was reported to be possibly involved, they call for uniform back up, don their ballistic vests and expose their sidearms, their approach and demeanor to those they are hoping to help is intentionally not an attitude of aggression.


The documentary provides some insight into the lives of Joe, an Iraq combat veteran with a PTSD diagnosis, and Ernie, the father of a teenager.

Both officers work overtime in uniformed assignments in addition to their full-time assignment to MHU. Joe is portrayed as going through a divorce, using painting to deal with the stresses of life and the job. Ernie seems more content as he enjoys his work, working to continue his education with an eye toward retirement and a new career as a teacher.

The importance of these personal insights is that it shows that developing skills for dealing with persons in distress does not require perfection in one’s own life.


The team notes that officers traditionally had 60 hours of firearms training in the academy with just an eight-hour block on crisis intervention. By the time of the filming of the documentary that training has been increased to 40 hours, much of which is taught by MHU members. They hope that the insights into mental health crises can be applied to reducing police suicides and increasing peer support within the agency.


They emphasize that time is an essential component of peaceful outcomes – “as long as it takes” – even while calls are stacked up. After all, other officers stay out of service for as long as it takes to work a crash or book a suspect. Knowing when to allow a subject some control and responsibility for their decisions rather than using persuasion rather than coercion, allowing appropriate and meaningful presence and physical contact, being honest about one’s own fear and concerns, and allowing the officer most comfortable with the situation to take the lead are all demonstrated in the movie.


Whether the short or long version is part of a training day, the documentary is a worthy springboard for discussion, reframing, critique and a new perspective on dealing with mental health crisis calls. As the national conversation on mental health and law enforcement’s role in responding to crises continues, no police agency can escape taking some action to report to their constituents how they are dealing with these issues. This viewing may be a great first step.

After watching “Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops,” use the following questions to start a discussion about the documentary and police mental health response:

  • How do responders address officer safety tactics in the context of establishing trust in close contact with a subject?
  • It is not unusual for persons encountering the police to have extreme emotional responses. What are some signs of a person having a mental health crisis along with the stress of a police encounter?
  • How does the pressure of calls pending affect devoting time to effective intervention in a mental health crisis?
  • How can you use your personal experiences to help you relate to persons in crisis?
  • What might be your long-term process in dealing with a failed suicide intervention?
  • Many special assignments are on a rotational basis to balance experience with getting a break from the unique stresses of undercover work, working child abuse cases, or working in a mental health unit? What are the pros and cons of rotating assignments?
  • What strategies did you see the officers in the film using to keep their personal lives and mental health in balance?
  • What efforts can agencies engage in to help officers maintain resilience and recovery from trauma?
  • How confident are you that most of your colleagues are highly competent in dealing with mental health crises?
  • The environment of police-citizen encounters is very important. In what ways can an officer control the environment?
  • How important is being in plain clothes for mental health response units? What is the role of uniformed backup for these officers?

Click here to register your agency to stream “Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops” for free unlimited streaming through May 2022 using code EJCC-POLICE1.

Also watch Joe Smarro’s TEDxSan Antonio’s talk “I See You” on officer mental wellness:


Force Science Institute Research: Speed and Movements Associated With Armed Assaults

Synchronizing data with high-speed video programs provides a better understanding of the nature of pre-assault, assault and post-assault dynamics.

The Force Science Institute has completed three new studies on the speed and movements associated with armed assaults.

“The goal of our research was to obtain highly accurate measurements to further explore the findings of our earlier studies,” said Dr. Bill Lewinski. “Where we once measured movement speeds in the hundredths of a second, we are now able to measure those speeds to the thousandths of a second using accelerometers, gyroscopes and motion sensors. By synchronizing this data with high-speed video programs, we have a better understanding of the nature of pre-assault, assault and post-assault dynamics.

“These three studies not only validated our earlier research, but they also provided new data that may prove critical in use-of-force investigations and litigation,” Lewinski added.


Readers familiar with Force Science research know how quickly armed suspects can turn and shoot while running. When considered with Force Science reaction studies, this early research provided ground-breaking insights into the dynamics of deadly force encounters, shot placement, and wound analysis.

In one of their recent studies, Force Science researchers, in collaboration with a University in Utah, examined two shooting scenarios during which inexperienced shooters discharged a weapon while running.

The subjects used in the study represented the age and fitness level of typical offenders. Of particular interest to the researchers was the speed of the assault and the time it would take for the shooter’s back to be presented to the target after firing the shot.

“The shooting and turning times were fast. Whether they were shooting over their opposite arm or under, these inexperienced shooters were discharging their weapon faster than humans could reasonably be expected to see the threat and respond much faster,” Lewinski said.

“In our previous studies, we observed that it took research subjects about half a second to identify and process a threat and another 1.5 to 2 seconds or longer to unholster their gun and return fire. This can mean, by the time someone can return fire – assuming they can return fire at all – the original shooter may be running at a full sprint with their back square to the person they just shot at. These observations can prove critical in the investigation of civilian self-defense cases, law enforcement use of force, or military engagements.

“We are looking forward to publishing the full details of these studies, but for now, we can share that we observed physical movements – like the raising of the opposite arm to facilitate underarm shootings – that consistently preceded the assailant’s shot. If potential victims are able to perceive them, these movements may provide enough of a warning to allow them to maneuver away from the impending shot.”


In the second study, researchers using the new high-tech wearable motion sensors replicated three shooting scenarios previously studied by Force Science.

The first scenario involved “drivers” pulling a gun that had been concealed beside their right leg and then quickly pointing and shooting at a target on their left (simulating the driver’s side window).

The next scenario involved those same drivers pulling the concealed gun from beside their leg, then quickly pointing and shooting at a target on the right (simulating the passenger’s side window).

In the final scenario, subjects stood facing a target with their hand resting by their side. From there, the subject quickly drew a pistol from their waistband, pointed, and fired at the target.

“We knew the shooting times would be fast, but we were surprised by how consistent inexperienced shooters were able to perform these scenarios,” Lewinski said. “We noted that the average time of the passenger-side shooting was slower than the driver’s side shooting. For police operations, this validated our previous recommendation that passenger-side approaches should continue to be tactical options for officers.”

Lewinski was quick to point out that, “Regardless of which side the assailant shot at the target, the shootings were still taking place around half a second. We saw in our previous research that responding subjects took an average of nearly two seconds before reacting, drawing, and returning fire. We can’t emphasize enough that targets of armed assaults are not going to outdraw people who initiate the attack. Whether they are civilian, military, or law enforcement, the priority should be on tactics that avoid or mitigate the attacker’s ability or opportunity to carry out the assault.”


In the third study conducted by the Force Science Institute, researchers examined three assailant-initiated shooting actions.

“We wanted to take advantage of technological advances to update the methodology and analysis from our previous turn and shoot study, ” said Lewinski. “We know suspects frequently turn and run after firing at victims. The speed of those turning movements affects where bullets from responsive fire can be expected to impact the suspect. In this study, we looked at how fast a person with a concealed gun already in their hand could point, fire, turn, and run.

“First we looked at a 90-degree turn, then a 180-degree turn, and finally, a strong-side turn. The strong-side turn began with the suspect facing away from the officer, gun in hand, concealed in front of them. The research subject initiated the assault by beginning to run and then rapidly turning a full 180 degrees, like a buttonhook in football. The subject then rapidly shot the target, turned back, and continued running.

“As expected, all three ‘time-to-shoot’ motions were much faster than a person could react to the shooting, draw, and fire their own gun. After discharging their weapon, the subjects were able to turn their backs toward the target in under 1 second, regardless of their starting position or shooting motion.

“In less than 1/3 of a second, the back of the subject’s head would be directed at their original target. What the advanced technology allowed us to observe was that each of the suspects actually over-rotated their head at least 30 degrees in every turn. This was a previously unobserved behavior that can have important implications for bullet strike analysis during use of force investigations.”

Force Science is excited to share these important research findings and will notify readers when the final publications are available.

2021 Mid-Year Preliminary Law Enforcement Officers Fatalities Report

2021 on trend to be one of deadliest years for law enforcement in history

Washington, DC, (July 14, 2021)—— The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has released its Mid-Year Report of law enforcement officer fatalities. As the nationwide authority of line-of-duty deaths, NLEOMF releases reports each year that include officer fatality numbers and other statistics relevant to law enforcement.

This year’s Mid-Year Report indicates a significant increase in officer deaths and could potentially be the deadliest year for law enforcement on record, if trends continue.

So far in 2021, there have been 155 line-of-duty officer deaths. COVID-19 continues to be the number-one cause of death, reaching 71 officers so far this year. The report also notes that traffic fatalities are up 58%, with the leading cause being officers struck by vehicles, currently numbering 19 fatalities. This equals the entire number of struck-by fatalities in 2020.

Texas has the highest number of officer deaths at 25, followed by 15 federal agency deaths. Other states near the top of the list include Georgia (13 deaths), California (13 deaths), and Florida (10 deaths). Out of 155 line-of-duty death cases in 2021, 33 officers were feloniously killed. This includes 28 gunfire cases, three beatings, and two stabbings.

“These numbers are a tragic reminder of the dangers our law enforcement officers are exposed to each and every day,” said Marcia Ferranto, CEO of NLEOMF. “The last two years have been incredibly difficult and dangerous for law enforcement. We will continue our work to honor the fallen and ensure that their sacrifice is never forgotten. We support those law enforcement officers who continue to work to keep our communities safe. They are our true heroes.”

To view the full report, or more information of law enforcement officers line-of-duty deaths, visit:

About the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum
Established in 1984, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to telling the story of American law enforcement, and making it safer for those who serve. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial ( contains the names of 22,611 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. The National Law Enforcement Museum ( expands and enriches the relationship between law enforcement and the community by sharing true stories of service and sacrifice from across the nation. Through immersive, educational exhibitions and insightful programs, we preserve the history of law enforcement for generations to come.

Daniel Forde
(601) 664-2010

To view the full Fatality Report and addendum, visit

Essential Elements of Supervision in Public Safety

Leadership involves techniques that direct the energies and abilities of a group toward the common accomplishments and planned objectives of the organization

By Captain Rex M. Scism (Ret.) for

How many of you have had a bad supervisor? That is a question I ask at the beginning of every lecture about leadership and, as you can imagine, every hand in the classroom generally goes up.

We’ve all had bad supervisors or witnessed poor leadership examples during our careers. Through the years, one consistent theme I’ve noticed among weak leaders is a lack of focus or lack of purpose. They are assigned to a formal leadership role but are not sure what to do with that responsibility.

Perhaps a better question centers on the attributes of a good leader. Where do good leaders come from? Is leadership a naturally occurring skill or are good leaders “made?” Although there is no right or wrong answer, it’s safe to say that leadership is an art. Abundant research has explored the science behind high-quality supervision and there are myriad philosophies on the composition of the perfect leader.

In public service, we see examples of leadership every day. Formal leadership generally occurs from behind stripes, bars or clusters on the uniform, but informal leadership occurs during every call for service. Author Kevin Kruse describes leadership as the “process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” Kruse’s definition certainly captures the essence of informal leadership, but let’s focus on supervision that occurs through formal structures. In that respect, leadership involves techniques that direct the energies and abilities of a group toward the common accomplishments and planned objectives of the organization.

Sounds simple, right? It should be, but don’t underestimate the human condition.


As humans, we spend a great deal of our time and energy fulfilling our own basic needs. Safe to say, we are selfish, and that attribute can make or break a leader. To be a good leader, we must be selfless and direct our efforts toward balancing the quantity of work with the quality of work and overall job satisfaction of our employees.

To do this effectively, consider the acronym PRIDE, which refers to essential supervisory elements:

  • Planning: Effective leaders always have a plan of action, the “what” and “how” we are going to accomplish required tasks. The greater our leadership authority, the more conceptual our approach needs to be.
  • Reporting: Public service requires formalized structures to get the job done. The chain of command is only effective if communication regularly occurs both upstream and downstream. Although we expect this communication to follow formal channels, we can’t let that formality stifle internal communication. Employees must be kept “in the know.” Additionally, they should be provided with an outlet to easily communicate new ideas to the top levels of the organization. Remember, innovation often comes from within.
  • Improving: A good leader is only as strong as his/her subordinates. Career development is essential if we want to have competent personnel with a desire to perform. Think of it as an investment in your people. Whether through formal evaluations, mentoring or training, empowered employees are generally productive employees.
  • Directing: We’ll talk more about this aspect in future articles, but good leaders must know their people and be good at choosing the correct leadership style that aligns with each employee.
  • Evaluating: Most agencies have some type of formal evaluation process; however, in my experience, many are lacking or are not taken seriously. Outlining employee expectations and giving employees feedback on performance is an essential aspect of professional development.


Although most of the elements associated with PRIDE are the responsibilities of the individual leader, many external factors impact the quality of leadership and employee morale within a public safety organization. How an individual supervisor or agency handles these factors has a direct impact on the level of service provided and the level of performance exhibited by employees.

Consider these external factors:

  • False assumptions: It’s tempting to believe that everyone elevated to a formal leadership role is competent, possesses the same characteristics or attributes, and is universally interchangeable, regardless of job function. This false assumption is largely a byproduct of the organization’s culture.
  • Budgetary and fiscal issues: Often, there is never enough to cover required expenses and many organizations are asked to do more with less. Overtime, equipment and compensation are key factors that can impact the workplace and employee morale.
  • Technology: Constantly evolving technological developments impact not only a given agency’s budget but also the associated employee learning curve. Policy updates and training are often impacted as well.
  • Pressure from changing trends: In recent years, public safety policy and practices have generated increased interest from citizens desiring police reform and enhanced transparency. These public and political agendas can impact the effectiveness of supervision.
  • Jurisdictional attributes: Challenges associated with significant population or demographic shifts can require internal adjustments to services provided or personnel necessary to complete essential tasks within the community.
  • Personnel issues: For most agencies, recruiting qualified personnel is one of the biggest challenges. Recruiting personnel that represent the diverse populations we serve is an even greater challenge. Selection of qualified leaders and the impact retirements or resignations have on institutional knowledge all impact organizational effectiveness.
  • Job stress: Public safety is rewarding, challenging and taxing. Today’s employees must be resilient and face challenges both at work and at home. How our employees handle stress is a key factor to their personal well-being.


Nothing about leadership is easy, especially if you aspire to become a supervisor for the wrong reasons. Power, influence and compensation can be improper motivators when you consider what it really takes to be an effective leader. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch probably said it best when he noted, “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Whether you are currently in a formal leadership role or aspire to become a leader within your organization, you must take a step outside of your self-interests and work toward common organizational goals as a team. This requires buy-in within all organizational levels – and the first-line supervisor is a key component to establishing this buy-in. Your people and your agency depend on it.

This article is the first part of a series, Finding the Leader in You, which addresses key concepts in public safety leadership.

Asking, ‘Anything illegal in the car?’ Leads to Admissible Evidence

By Ken Wallentine |

The court explains the duration of a traffic stop depends on the mission of the stop, making the officer’s actions in this case reasonable.

UNITED STATES V. BUZZARD, 2021 WL 2387934 (4th Cir. 2021)

An officer pulled Jason Buzzard over at 0130 for a defective brake light. The officer called out the stop and approached the car. He recognized Paul Martin, the front seat passenger, from previous encounters, identifying Martin as a drug user who had just been released from prison. The officer knew that he was conducting the traffic stop in a high crime area, only a block away from a house known for drug sales.

At some point during the stop, the officer asked whether there was anything illegal in the car. In response, Martin pulled out a hypodermic needle and syringe and Buzzard produced a marijuana bowl from under his shirt. The officer waited to walk back to his car and complete computer checks until other officers arrived because he feared that Martin, who was fidgety and nervous, might flee.

Backup officers arrived and searched the car, finding two handguns wrapped in socks. One was under the driver seat (where Buzzard had been sitting) and the other was found under the passenger (Martin’s) seat. Buzzard and Martin were each charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Buzzard and Martin asked the court to suppress the evidence. They argued the officer’s question about anything illegal in the car improperly exceeded the scope of the traffic stop and extended the duration of the stop. A stop for a traffic violation may take the time necessary to determine “whether to issue a traffic ticket,” including time for “checking the driver’s license, determining whether there are outstanding warrants against the driver, and inspecting the automobile’s registration and proof of insurance” (Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. 348 (2015)).

In Rodriguez v. United States, the Supreme Court held that “the tolerable duration of police inquiries in the traffic-stop context is determined by the seizure’s ‘mission’ – to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop and attend to related safety concerns.” The officer’s traffic mission includes asking about weapons, other questions directly relating to officer safety and inquiring about arrest warrants.

The appellate court held that “given the totality of the circumstances, it makes sense that [the officer] needed to know more about what Buzzard and Martin had in the car.” Asking whether there was anything illegal in the vehicle was directly related to the mission of the traffic stop. The court also noted the officer’s question did not extend the traffic stop – “not even by a second.” Thus, the evidence was properly admitted.

This article was featured in Lexipol’s Xiphos newsletter, a monthly legal-focused law enforcement newsletter authored by Ken Wallentine. Subscriptions are free for public safety officers, educators and public attorneys. Subscribe here!