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Policing Critical Incidents: Leadership and Critical Incident Management

NCJ Number
Laurence Alison, Jonathan Crego
Date Published
287 pages
This book is an introduction to new methods for exploring leadership and decisionmaking in the context of police management of critical incidents, based primarily on a series of police debriefings following actual major critical incidents that involved the British police.
One chapter introduces two unique and innovative methods for researching critical incident decisionmaking in law enforcement. One is an electronic focus group method named 10kV, because the impact of a critical incident has been compared to experiencing a 10,000-volt shock. The second method is called Hydra, which is an immersive simulation system used both for research and for training practitioners in preparation for the real-life emergencies they will face as professionals. This is followed by a chapter that examines police leadership from a more proactive perspective. It focuses on integrating and critically evaluating the existing literature in order to increase understanding of the psychological features that may determine supervisory effectiveness. A chapter then focuses on several critical incidents, including a siege, a child abduction, a high-profile murder, a natural disaster, a public order incident, and the detonation of a terrorist bomb in another country where the assistance of the British police services was required. This is followed by a chapter that examines police officers in action in a study that explores the dynamic relationship between choices of leadership style, team cooperation, and context in two Hydra syndicate groups, with attention to directive and participative leadership styles. Remaining chapters address police decisionmaking in murder inquiries, methods and biases in police decisionmaking, the influence of emotions in police decisionmaking and investigation related to homicides, and the impact of and ways to prevent organizational "decision inertia" (decision avoidance) in the context of critical incident decisionmaking. Chapter conclusions and references and a subject index