Clem Information Strategies works where public policy, communications, and outreach intersect.

Connie Clem, Principal, connie at
@ConnieInfo | | 303.242.6278
Niwot, Colorado, USA

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Lately we’re seeing more attention to interactions between corrections/law enforcement personnel and community members, possible suspects, detainees, and inmates. This is a good thing—because accountability is important, and also because the scrutiny is helping the public to learn more about patrol work and jails.

A big question is, how responsible is an agency leader for the actions of his or her staff? Very responsible, but that responsibility is also indirect. Behavior in a critical incident comes down to the officer’s choice of action. In an incident that turns physical, a jail administrator and a society each want a reasonable response that is proportionate to the perceived risk. How does a leader ensure a response is proportionate?

gearsBasically, three things have to come together. First, staff need policy to guide them. Without good policy and standards, officers don’t have direction on what to do and why. Second, staff need training. Training takes significant resources in time and money, and standards dictate a lot of the subject matter that needs to be delivered. Third, staff need supervision. Without meaningful oversight, staff lack support for consistency in following their training and agency policy.

Administrators of a well run jail conduct an incident review every time force is used to control a detainee or inmate. They examine what the agency can learn from the incident. Is policy in good shape? Did the officers involved get the training they needed, and did they apply it correctly? Have their supervisors and managers confirmed that policy and procedure are being followed consistently? Did any issues with equipment or the physical plant contribute to the incident and outcome? Is this officer the right person for the job, or are there other flags in his or her disciplinary record? Is this officer approaching burnout from job stress? Could the need for physical intervention have been avoided with better communication skills?

Sometimes the answers aren’t simple. But the need for local detention stays with us, and so does the need for administrators and staff who do their professional best every day. When agencies hold themselves to higher standards, everyone benefits.

For more insights on training, see Gregory Morton and Aaron Shepherd’s The Six Moving Parts of Correctional Training Effectiveness.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Jail Standards, Classification, and Safety

September 17, 2015

Last week I sat in on a meeting of jail inspection agency leaders from around the United States. These people work in state government, and their mission is to ensure safety and security in the jails they work with. They or their staff members visit each local facility statewide to check whether these jails meet […]

Read the full article →

What’s the difference between prison and jail?

November 3, 2013

You know how you’re watching the news, and the reporter solemnly says a criminal will be spending his or her life in jail, or will serve a 20-year jail sentence, or is languishing in prison waiting for trial? It’s not going to happen. Let me clear this up. In the United States, we often encounter […]

Read the full article →

Infographic – social media + emergency response

June 10, 2013

Must share this. From USF Master of Public Admin program. University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration

Read the full article →