Why an Early Intervention System Doesn’t Work Without Engaged Leadership

Why an Early Intervention System Doesn’t Work Without Engaged Leadership

In this new era of law enforcement, expectations around police accountability and transparency have evolved. These days, law enforcement departments are expected to not only walk the walk but also be able to prove it to regulatory bodies, community leaders, the media, citizen FOIA requests, etc.  

So how does an agency provide proof of accountability? While there is no secret formula to build trust within your community overnight, having the right tools in place is a foundational element of transforming agency culture and improving relationships with the public. 

An early intervention system (sometimes called an early warning system) equips leaders with a digital tool to identify, track, and intervene in identified behaviors or specific patterns of conduct. Early intervention systems also provide a method to formalize positive recognition and record kudos, commendations, and other notes regarding extraordinary conduct. In doing so, leaders can ensure that officers are portrayed accurately and realistically, providing further insight during performance reviews, when considering candidates for promotion, and if needed to defend personnel decisions. 

However, an early intervention system will only be useful in accomplishing these goals if leadership at all levels of an agency commits to its success.

The Human Element of Early Intervention


An early intervention system is not a ‘set it and forget it’ sort of tool. If supervisors and leaders don’t take the time to engage with it, record noteworthy performance, and review conduct documentation, an early intervention system will never be more than an empty repository.  

However, when utilized correctly, the right solution can become a vital part of reshaping agency culture, improving morale, and even boosting retention and recruiting efforts. 

“There are key things you have to do when you conduct a traffic stop, and let’s say that another officer helps support those things. Later on, after the citation is written and the paperwork is done, you may want to commend that officer for the support they gave you. You can give that commendation within the early intervention system, which will then alert that officer about the positive comment. Who doesn’t like to get an alert on their phone, a thank you, or an appreciative comment? And with the mass communication capabilities in the system, that officer’s supervisor, the chief, and fellow officers will also know about that positive interaction.” 

Georgia State University, Perimeter Police Operations Major

Of particular importance are direct supervisors. They will often be among the first to notice behavior or conduct that’s out of the ordinary or that might require intervention. As a result, every officer who has direct reports must be able to see, analyze, and address early intervention-related data. When equipped with the right knowledge and insight, direct supervisors at any level can proactively engage officers about potential personal or professional problems impacting conduct.  

Additionally, certain assignments may generate more complaints or lead to a higher degree of resistance. Officers on these assignments may be required to utilize force more often in the course of their duties than their colleagues. This is where the human element comes in. Leaders can account for varying posts and positions and set early intervention thresholds accordingly.  

It's also important to remember that a behavior alert does not automatically mean an officer should receive a demerit or needs intervention. Supervisors and leaders should be reviewing and interpreting conduct patterns and alerts to determine next steps. 

“One of the things that is overlooked is engaged leadership. It’s the most significant element because if leadership is not engaged in any way, none of [the benefits of early intervention] happen.”

Lt. (ret.) Paul Boulware
Software Project Consultant, Guardian Tracking

Accountability Starts with Leadership


At the end of the day, an early intervention system simplifies important and transparent information sharing and ensures officer behavior is reviewed and documented holistically. However, creating a culture of accountability requires full commitment from leadership to implement and constantly monitor the program. Leaders and supervisors will always have a responsibility to directly monitor their officers. 

Vector Solutions’ suite of industry-leading software solutions for law enforcement includes training management systems, online training courses, FTO/PTO/CTO/live skill evaluations, and an early intervention and performance management system.  

To learn more about supporting officer wellness with technology, please request a demo today. 

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