Patrol Officers and Deputies make critical decisions every day. Some decisions are big, and some are small. All of them require due diligence and comprehensive review.
I prefer the P.O.L.I.C.E. method for Law Enforcement decision making, developed and taught at the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety:
Problem – Define it. Is it your problem, is it in your jurisdiction? Does it belong to someone else? Are there separate issues that may or may not be related? How big is this issue? Is it criminal or civil? Felony, Misdemeanor, Ordinance violation or traffic? Is an arrest required?
Options – List out ALL possible solutions. What have you done in the past? Best-case / worst-case scenario? What can back-fire? What is proper & legal? A supervisor may be able to provide options that you haven't thought of.
Liabilities – What bad thing might happen if we don’t act, or if we act incorrectly?
Information – What do you know? What DON’T you know? Is the information you have timely and accurate? What other information do you need to make an informed decision?
Choice – Consider your decision from multiple perspectives: your supervisor, the public, victim, witness, prosecutor & defense. Remember fundamental fairness & due process. Are you 100% sure? Is it the “least bad” of available options? Can you (should you) wait?
Execution – Remain professional and in control. HOW you perform your duty is often times as important as what you do and why you’re doing it.
P-O-L-I-C-E Easy to remember & easy to use!