Answers to “You Decide” Boxes

Suggested answers to “You Decide” boxes in the text provide a well-researched rationale behind the recommended response to key issues facing the law enforcement profession.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work together seamlessly and manage incidents involving all threats and hazards—regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity—to reduce loss of life or property and to minimize harm to the environment. The NIMS is the essential foundation to the National Preparedness System (NPS) and provides the template for the management of incidents and operations in support of all five National Planning Frameworks ( 

The purpose of the NIMS is to provide a common approach for managing incidents. The concepts contained herein provide for a flexible but standardized set of incident management practices with emphasis on common principles, a consistent approach to operational structures and supporting mechanisms, and an integrated approach to resource management (

Incidents typically begin and end locally, and they are managed daily at the most localized geographical, organizational, and jurisdictional level. There are other instances where success depends on the involvement of multiple jurisdictions, levels of government, functional agencies, or emergency-responder disciplines. These instances necessitate effective and efficient coordination across this broad spectrum of organizations and activities. By using NIMS, communities are part of a comprehensive national approach that improves the effectiveness of emergency management and response personnel across the full spectrum of potential threats and hazards (including natural hazards, terrorist activities, and other human-caused disasters) regardless of size or complexity (

Over time, the incident command system has had many detractors; however, several departments have demonstrated what can be achieved once it is embraced. These departments understand that they need to not only embrace ICS but actively partner with other first responders to learn differing perspectives. Breaking down the barriers that prevent organizations from using ICS is imperative today, when regional responses to significant incidents are becoming more common. To avoid the “silo” effect and to judge situations from a larger perspective, first responders must have an awareness of the capabilities of other responders (

During large events everyone in the locality has a seat at the table; it is only a question of when and how they will be used. “To become a strategic leader, you need to become proactive and take action now. The object is to start to think and act strategically, and handle the increased complexity resulting from the necessity to integrate elements that are, in some cases, far removed from your basic expertise and experience” (

Today, law enforcement agencies operate in dynamic environments where simple calls for service can become complex critical incidents in a matter of moments. Regardless of department size, it is not a question of if personnel will become part of a critical incident but when. Both officers and supervisors must stand ready to respond effectively (

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, training in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) became mandatory for all officers. But, are they better prepared now that they have received the basic training? Have agency leaders embraced the training and incorporated its concepts into everyday operations, or do they plan to simply dust off the manuals if and when a significant event occurs? Department personnel can recognize ICS as something that will help employees do their jobs better or as a necessary evil for receiving funds or reimbursement from the federal government (