Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Avoiding risks for law enforcement

By: Todd Williams, Municipal Association's Public Safety Loss Control Consultant

The Municipal Association’s property and liability insurance pool, the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund, brought more than 150 attendees to Columbia recently for its annual law enforcement training. 

The session featured Gordon Graham, whose entertaining style is backed up with specific examples and useful information. Graham is a former California state trooper who is now an attorney with 33 years of experience as a risk management expert.

Graham encouraged attendees to focus their risk management efforts where the data indicates there is an issue, rather than basing it on anecdotal evidence. Also, he said to make sure that corrective efforts address the root cause of incidents, not just the triggering event.

“If you can identify the root cause,” he said, “then you can correctly design a policy to address it, properly implement it, and keep it updated. Then you can prevent a future incident.”  
However, he noted not to confuse proximate cause - the event that preceded the incident/tragedy - with root cause, condition or culture within the organization that really caused the incident/tragedy.

Graham applies the Seven Rules of Admiral Hyman Rickover to create a high reliability organization thus allowing it to achieve and maintain success.

Rule 1.  You must have a rising standard of quality over time, and well beyond what is required by any minimum standard.
Rule 2.  People running complex systems should be highly capable.
Rule 3.  Supervisors have to face bad news when it comes, and take problems to a level high enough to fix them.
Rule 4.  You must have a healthy respect for the dangers and risks of your particular job. 
Rule 5.  Training must be constant and rigorous.
Rule 6.  Audits and inspections of all aspects of your operations are essential.
Rule 7.  The organization must have the ability and willingness to learn from mistakes of the past.  

In addition, an organization must adhere to Rickover basic rules of risk management: there are no new ways to get in trouble, there are always better ways to stay out of trouble, identifiable risks are manageable risks, and if an event is predictable it is preventable.