1

Cancel briefings. If you must do briefings, do them outside. Find novel ways to pass on information. One idea is to create an email group for your teams and pass on information as you get it.

2

Stay plugged into your county EOC to receive the latest information. Most EOC’s distribute Situations Reports that contain pertinent information that should be shared with officers and deputies. Many communities have set up a COVID-19 information site.

3

If non-essential personnel are not working from home yet, do it ASAP. Develop a staffing plan that takes into consideration the virus’s incubation period. Think worst-case scenario.

4

Train your people on the proper use and re-use of the N95 masks. Provide training and equipment to sanitize gear and publish protocols for when and how to do it. We are going to be dealing with a shortage of PPE and sanitizing products. Encourage everyone to conserve when feasible, but not to the extent that they put their health at risk.

5

Instead of canceling all SWAT and CNT training, consider novel training methods to keep teams ready for tomorrow’s challenges. Online training, After Action reporting, and web-based debriefs of significant tactical events are all examples of how some teams keep their training alive.

6

As a leader, you need to spend time dispelling rumors. Address them directly, early, and often. If your leaders are getting overwhelmed, “lead up” when things slip through the cracks.

7

If you have not already segmented your building, keep officers out of the Communication’s Center. Most dispatch centers are already short-staffed. Exposing an entire shift can cripple your agency. Consider social distancing recommendations when regulating how and when people use the locker room.

8

Review your response plans. Has your organization developed a plan with local hospitals when, not if, the surge of infected patients begins? Consider vehicular and pedestrian controls. Are there procedures in place to respond to physical fights?

9

It can be challenging to find a balance between overreacting and underreacting. For example, at the start of this crisis, some agencies were rejecting the idea of reducing calls for service and opening up online reporting. Less than a week later, we see agencies across the state implementing these measures. Prepare next week’s contingency plan this week.

10

The topic of FTO and trainees is coming up often during this crisis. Each agency has handled this challenge in a variety of ways. Our profession is built on mitigating risk, but we can never eliminate 100% of it. Use common sense and limit exposure when possible. As an organization, consider what else you can do with a trainee as part of your contingency planning.

11

Communicate. This is a unique and dynamic situation. There will be a variety of questions we cannot answer. For example, questions about front-loading sick time, what to do if a family member becomes sick, and how do we file exposure claims? Reassure your officers that you will do everything you can to get answers as they become available.

12

Consider how you can communicate with the public from a safe distance. Leverage your UAS program. For example, one San Diego County agency is using their program to make public announcements.

13

Prepare for calls for service you have never heard of before. Calls like a group of ten or more gathered in the street, a local bar refuses to shut down, or that a store is price-gouging customers. Adaptive decision-making is clearly required. For example, some counties have created a price-gouging hotline, while others are sending LE to document warnings and their education efforts. There will be more atypical and weird calls to come.

14

Is your agency’s protest plan up to date, and does it address the challenges of COVID-19? Like many protests, the crowd will consist of non-violent protesters mixed with agitators. Does your plan also consider violent crimes against the protestors? Once the event is over, what is your plan to decontaminate personnel

15

Develop a consistent mechanism for routine After Action Reporting and a method for compiling the information for your Agency’s COVID-19 AAR. Consider soliciting information throughout the organization at every rank.

16

Develop a communication plan to share information about personnel who have tested positive. Ask for their permission to share their status consistent with agency policy and HIPPA. Sharing this information will reduce rumors and allow personnel to support one another.

17

How will you cope with shortages of PPE? Contact other agencies for help. Much like sharing tactical resources, the sharing of PPE resources may be needed.

18

Ensure everyone is aware of their jail’s updated booking process and knows how to interact with the hospitals when obtaining medical clearance for the booking process.

19

Like all crises, the COVID-19 crisis has pulsed, and patterns are emerging. Identify the patterns in your community and adjust your planning accordingly.

COVID-19 Lessons Learned

Do you have additional lessons learned that will help other agencies or thoughts on ones already listed?

COVID-19 came upon us quickly. No one could have predicted the severity of this pandemic or how it would infect every part of our lives, our country, let alone the entire world. The weight of this crisis is testing law enforcement leaders daily, sometimes hourly, and our officers and deputies are looking to us to provide solid crisis leadership in this uncertain and unpredictable time. In order to help agencies adapt as quickly as possible, we are gathering lessons learned from all over California. The more we share what works and what doesn’t, the faster we can adapt to this crisis. This pandemic is an invisible enemy, and we aren’t used to fighting an adversary like this. There isn’t a barricade, hostage problem, earthquake, or wildfire. We can’t see it, hear it, or predict its next move. Remember, our primary focus is to keep our people safe!!

Check back frequently for updates, as this list will continue to grow until COVID-19 is under control. Do you have additional lessons learned that will help other agencies or thoughts on ones already listed? Fill out the form below and we will continue to add to the list. If you have specific concerns related to your region, contact your CATO Region Representative directly. More information about CATO Region Representatives is located here (include link to rep page). Thank you to Lieutenant Travis Norton, Oceanside Police Department, for doing a lot of work to start this list.

We are living in trying times, and as a leader, whether formal or informal, it is our job to steer our agencies through this crisis. We’ll come out the other side of this much stronger and wiser. Take care of one another, and remember that it is your strong crisis leadership that will help carry our agencies through this pandemic. COVID-19 has created a unique set of circumstances, and while this may not be the crisis you have trained for, it is the crisis we are in, and our training has prepared us to lead. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

At CATO, we believe Tactics are a science and the art is in the application of those tactics. As the communities we serve look to understand and address a variety of concerns related to COVID-19, we would like to remind all of our members that the skills used to plan, execute and maneuver against our tactical adversaries can be used now to maintain calm and bring principled based decision making to a chaotic and ever changing problem.
Marcus Sprague

Vice President, CATO

ALL TRAINING IS CANCELED UNTIL THE END OF MARCH. EACH COURSE WILL BE EVALUATED INDIVIDUALLY TO STAY WITHIN UPDATED PRECAUTIONARY GUIDELINES.

IF YOU WERE REGISTERED FOR ANY OF THE POSTPONED COURSES, YOUR SPOT WILL BE SECURED FOR THE NEXT CLASS. YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED BY EMAIL WHEN THE DATE AND LOCATION HAVE BEEN SET.

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