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Leadership and supervision is key and foundational to any organization. Whether this leadership is strong or weak it will impact the organization as a whole dramatically. Often the leadership and supervision element is exhibited in emergency situations. It has been said that certain incident(s) define or in this case determine the success or failure of an agency. We saw evidence of this in New York, New Orleans, Oakland and even here in Jacksonville. Communication and discipline are two key factors which assist in determining the success or failure of the leadership and supervision in an agency. Although most agencies are viewed as an autocratic agency with piles of policies and procedures, an agency without communications and discipline will ultimately become a failure.
Successful and Failed Leadership Models of Senior Management Officials in Police Departments
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "We Judge ourselves by what we are capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done." Similarly, Ian Percy a world renowned business and leadership speaker said, "We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions." Within law enforcement these statements are also often the case. No law enforcement agency nor law enforcement supervisor, manger or administrator wakes up one morning and says, today I plan to fail. In fact, as in an autocratic leadership style, there are significant countermeasures to keep one from failing. Agencies around the state and country have plans, policies, procedures, review boards, and committees and on a day-to-day basis appear to be the perfect model agency. So if this is the case, the norm, then why is it that we often see on the evening news that agencies seem to fail? To the media and public it is not how your agency or members function day-to-day that determines success or failure but how your agency and members respond to an emergency, real or perceived, that will often define a department. Some examples of this are the Los Angeles Police Department - Rodney King riots, New Orleans Police Department - Hurricane Katrina, and as recently as last year, the Oakland Police Department - four officers killed March 21, 2009. This paper will use this approach to compare and contrast the success and failure of leadership models of the agency and the specific mid-level management and administrators who responded to these emergencies. It will also present a theory that an agency cannot be just one of the models - autocratic, democratic or free reign - but most are actually a combination of all three.
Supervision, leadership and management of critical incidents, or emergencies, are not only a local problem but a national problem. In the aftermath of the New York and Washington D.C.'s responses to the 9-11 incidents, President George W. Bush and his advisors not only saw a gap in the Federal management of these incidents but also in the local government's management capabilities. In response to the noted deficiencies the President, by executive order, issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5), Management of Domestic Incidents in. HSPD-5 mandates that all levels of government, including local first responders, be prepared for and be able to recover from all types of emergencies utilizing the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Additionally the directive recognizes that management of all domestic incidents starts with the local and State government. (The White House, 2003) In December, 2003, President Bush issued a companion Directive to HSPD-5, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 (HSPD-8), National Preparedness. This directive mandated, "â€¦ training (NIMS) for the Nation's first responders, officials, and others with major event preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery roles." (The White House, 2003) A principle of the Command and Management component of NIMS that applies to the example of the failed and successful agencies discussed in this paper is the Incident Command System (ICS) which will be discussed later. (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2008, pp. 5-5)
Many, if not all, agencies set out to be an autocratic agency implying that they want their supervision to be autocratic leaders. This is evidenced by the pages and pages of formal plans, policies and procedures, accrediting entities and civilian review boards that have become a staple of the law enforcement community. What an autocratic style does not take into consideration is the human factor which is usually more evident in a free reign, and although not nearly as evident but still present, a democratic organization. When law enforcement officials respond to emergencies this human factor leads, otherwise day-to-day by the book, managers to make decisions based on emotions rather than the tons of policies designed to assist them and come to a predictable outcome. This was evident in New York when law enforcement officials set up their command post in the ground floor of Tower 1 at the world trade center (Rashbaum, 2008); it was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when law enforcement officials started stealing from businesses (Hampton, 2005); and it was evident most recently in the murders of four Oakland officers that occurred on March 21, 2009 (Stewart, 2009).
According to an Independent Board of Inquiry into the initial murder of two Oakland Police Department officers, the subsequent response and actions of mid level managers and administrators found serious flaws in that agencies ability to respond to a "large scale critical incident". On March 21, 2009 at 1:00pm a Motorcycle Sergeant and Motorcycle Officer conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that had "no record on file" for the driver's license or the license plate that was called in. As the officers re-approached the vehicle, at 1:15pm, the driver leaned out of the car and shot both of them, mortally, before either could get their weapon out. Citizens ran to the officer's aid and dialed 9-1-1 reporting the situation. This caused a, "city-wide Officer-Needs-Help" broadcast over all radio frequencies and mobilized more than 115 police units from the Oakland Police Department and other outside agencies to respond. The first Sergeant was on-scene within two minutes and ordered that no additional personnel respond to the scene but to start looking for the suspect. The Area Commander Lieutenant arrived within two minutes of that broadcast and attempted to take control of the unfolding chaos but requested to continue with the city-wide assistance call. Two additional Area Commanders, Lieutenants, arrived and met away from the scene and determined they would assign management roles without consulting with the original and responsible Area Commander. Communication is one of the key elements the course textbook identifies that must be present in a successful supervisor, leader, and agency. In the Oakland shooting it was the first and primary breakdown of this leadership and supervision failure (Stewart, 2009, pp. 1-4).
As a result of the failure to communicate critical information that the original responding Lieutenant uncovered - an eyewitness that saw the suspect run into a ground floor apartment - and information that an off duty Lieutenant obtained from a confidential informant which corroborated the eye witness account was dismissed by the self appointed "Tactical" Lieutenant. This Lieutenant dismissed the information as non credible and after consulting with the original Lieutenant, who was now in charge of the original crime scene, the other Area Commander, Lieutenant now in charge of perimeter security, and the Deputy Chief and Area Captain who had just arrived. The Tactical Lieutenant thought that they should at least clear this apartment to ensure that the suspect was not there and based on his information he decided that he would put together an "ad hoc" team to make an entry and clear this apartment, although a request had been made for the full Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team. The Deputy Chief on scene asked if a search warrant was needed before making entry and the Tactical Lieutenant and Area Captain determined no warrant was needed due to fresh pursuit, which in this case clearly was not fresh pursuit. As the ad hoc entry team made entry into the apartment two officers was fatally shot and a third was wounded before the suspect, who was hiding in a closet with a high powered rifle was shot and killed. After the shooting of the suspect the wounded officer, received on site care refusing medical transport and went and made notification to one of the families as he was covered in a bloody uniform (Stewart, 2009, pp. 4-5)
This type of overall behavior demonstrates another key concept of our book regarding leadership and supervision and that is discipline. Although this is not discipline from a standpoint of correcting an action or behavior, it is the discipline that leaders and supervisors need to respond to training and protocols to prevent things like this from happening. The Independent Board of Inquiry, called for by acting Chief of Police Howard Jordan, pointed out that the use of force provided by the officers in this case was appropriate and they praised the perimeter Lieutenant for his actions. However, the board cited the following issues in their review of the incident:
The original traffic stop approaches by the officers were not in compliance with training;
Issues related to implementing ICS and filling critical positions led to a fundamental lack of planning;
Responding commanders did not establish a command post;
Neither in the initial response nor in the subsequent hours did any commander announce themselves as the Incident Commander;
Information on the suspect was either not transmitted or not received by persons who had placed themselves into a decision making capacity;
SWAT was called for via the radio, but no through established procedures which delayed their response by 45 minutes;
The location where the suspect was "possibly" and then actually found was not formally scouted prior to entry;
Personnel involved were not advised of the suspects identity nor given a photograph once he was identified by evidence personnel;
Common situational awareness was not present;
There was no urgency to order an expedited entry and the entry was not in compliance with policies, best practices nor State and Federal laws;
Statements made by commanders involved in the decisions showed a fundamental lack of understanding;
Subordinate personnel did not question flawed plans and orders issued by command personnel;
The entry team continued into the apartment although the first person through the door had been hit;
Every alternative to a dynamic entry was ignored and dismissed with little or no discussion;
The decision to form an ad hoc team was a direct violation of policy;
The entry team did not have the proper equipment on scene to assist with the entry;
The notification of the next of kin was inappropriately executed; and
The team member that was wounded and left the scene to conduct a notification speaks to improper command and control by the commanders. (Stewart, 2009, pp. 14-18)
This incident clearly demonstrates the concept behind this paper. The Oakland Police Department had established policies and procedures to deal with this type of situation as any autocratic law enforcement department in the United States has. Emotions and human factors took Lieutenants, Captains and a Deputy Chief down a path that implemented a free reign and, in one case with the Deputy Chief, a democratic based agency. Once management personnel started allowing their emotions to control the incident, making assignments based on ill perceived exigent circumstances rather than by function, and perhaps some ego issues, the incident fell apart. One could easily conclude that the perception of this agency based on a single response to this emergency incident that the Oakland Police Department and their administration is incompetent, despite their day-to-day operations.
ICS is a principle of the command and control element of NIMS (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2008, pp. 5-5). ICS, or the lack of the utilization of ICS, was one of the issues that the board pointed out as a failure. ICS is flexible in nature and allows for the expansion and collapse of sections, branches, groups, teams and crews for scenes that require it. Officer Kevin Guthrie, Emergency Preparedness Officer and ICS Instructor for North East Florida says that in situations like the Oakland shooting law enforcement officers are commonly required to do a single aspect of a "Patrol" officers job, considered a function, and most of the time they do it without direct supervision or clear lines of direction. ICS focuses on establishing those functions into Branches or Groups based on the complexity of the incident. An example of this in the Oakland shooting could have been to set up a Crime Scene Branch, a Search Branch, and a Perimeter Branch and appoint an appropriate Operations Section Chief or Incident Commander that all three branches reported to. Officer Guthrie pointed out this would give a clear chain-of-command, unity-of-command and span-of-control for the incident. (Guthrie, 2010)
Using the ICS model can prove to the media and the public that an agency is highly competent both in their day-to-day operations and when responding to an emergency or critical incident. For an example of this we need to look no further than our local department the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO). From a model autocratic standpoint the JSO has achieved one of the highest honors in the country, the National Sheriff's Association Triple Crown Award. This award is given to sheriff's offices which achieve simultaneous accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, the American Correctional Association's Commission on Accreditation for Corrections and the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare (National Sheriff's Association, 2010). Officer Guthrie said the JSO has made huge strides in institutionalizing ICS (Guthrie, 2010). This has become evident in the past three years through a number of incidents including the Berkman building collapse and T2 laboratory explosion in 2007, Tropical Storm Fay in 2008, a number of missing persons cases, and most recently, October 11, 2010, a manhunt for a murder suspect, Christopher Kilgore, who shot and killed his brother and a friend and then shot and critically wounded his mother and father. (News 4 Jax, 2010)
In the Kilgore incident officers, deputies and special agents from a number of local, state and Federal agencies responded to the scene to look for this suspect. According to Guthrie, an on-scene Lieutenant started coordinating with Clay County supervisors and representatives with the U.S. Marshall's Service but was quickly being overwhelmed with radio communications problems, public information, and myriad of community issues. The Lieutenant requested the assistance of the JSO SWAT team. The Assistant Chief of Homeland Security responds with the SWAT Commander, while responding, he started coordinating personnel over the radio. As he arrived on scene, his supervisor, Chief of JSO Homeland Security, arrived as well. The Chief of Homeland Security, after an initial assessment from the Lieutenant perceived, correctly, that this would be a potentially long term, complex, multiple agency response. He notified all JSO personnel over the radio that he was in command of this incident and that the Assistant Chief of Homeland Security was the Operations Section Chief. The Assistant Chief formed two branches immediately, a Patrol Branch, coordinated by the on-scene Lieutenant responsible for setting up a hard perimeter and rerouting traffic, and a Tactical Branch coordinated by the SWAT Commander (Lieutenant) to conduct a slow and methodical search of the wooded area where the suspect was last seen. Each Branch Lieutenant designated specific groups, led by supervisors. By the end of the first day there were over 150 officers from six agencies looking for Kilgore in a methodical, planned, and adequately supervised direction (Guthrie, 2010). On the third day of searching a 24,000 acre wooded area, the suspect was scene by residents of the area. Members of the JSO SWAT and Canine teams found and confronted Kilgore from an area of cover and after refusing to drop his weapon opened fire killing the suspect (News 4 Jax, 2010). In this incident, as well as the other ICS managed incidents handled by the JSO, no officers were injured or killed and no civil or criminal suits have been filed on their handling (Guthrie, 2010).
These two incidents represent a failure and a success in the leadership and supervision of two large agencies. Both responded to complex incidents which had the potential to define the agency. One was managed properly through mandated Federal guidelines and an autocratic system, the other through an ad hoc or free reign system. One can conclude that the ability to manage a critical incident is imperative to demonstrating that the agency is competent on a day-to-day basis.