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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

How to Handle an APE Situation

You will respond to an Acute Political Emergency. Here's what to do when it happens.

September 03, 2010  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

You were warned about this in the police academy. You saw it on a television cop show. Your Field Training Officer (FTO) may have even gone over it. Each one is different.

How do you prepare when you respond to an Acute Political Emergency or radio codename "APE" situation?

First of all, the working definition of this varies from department to department, but I'll give you an idea. A person of some real or self-perceived political or public importance is caught in an extremely compromising situation or is arrested. This could also include a family member of this semi-important person.

Every department has had one or so, and will continue to have them. I'm not talking about a commissioner's kid getting a parking ticket. The commissioner's kid is arrested for a felony and the media is swirling.

Know your procedures. Every department has a policy, procedure or operational order concerning police contact with persons of political importance or incidents that can bring light or discredit to the agency.

If you can't find it there, look for the policy regarding the notification of critical incidents to the chain of command. Keep looking; it's in the fine print that would include elected officials. Here's the good news. You're an entry level officer and this aftermath is not your immediate concern. Dealing with the media, personalities and political implications is for the staff that makes the big bucks. Make a timely notification to get a boss to your scene.

What you are to do is follow procedures; don't let this incident rattle you. Treat everyone fairly, and as you would anyone else. The big survival hint is to find your agency's core values — that acronym on the wall you were required to learn. The veteran cops won't know what it is.

You'll find wording such as "fairness, equal treatment, dignity, respect and service." When it comes to why you had to arrest this person, you were following the core values and fairness. You could not allow this subject to walk away because of who his/her daddy might be, could you?

A big hint here is be you, act professionally. Once you confirm that you have a major player that could be on the 6 o'clock news, notify your supervisor immediately. Put the process on them. You've made your notification. Let the games begin.

If you have any calls or media contacts regarding this, again follow your procedures. Don't give a reckless "off the record" statement. There's no such thing as off the record with the media in a tabloid environment story. Refer statements in accordance to your policy.

Don't ever allow yourself or others to shoot a few camera phone photos for giggles. If this leaks out, start filling out applications somewhere far, far away. You're done in this town.

Don't ask for autographs and souvenirs. Do you really want to remember the night that you OC sprayed a senator?

Keep your wits and professionalism about you, and you'll get through these. And in a few years, you'll have a great story to remember.

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

mtarte @ 9/6/2010 8:12 AM

Some good, general advice, but each community and department is different and it seems the smaller the community/agency, the more this comes into play. However, I have a nit to pick with the author over this statement: "The big survival hint is to find your agency's core values — that acronym on the wall you were required to learn. The veteran cops won't know what it is." Really? Who then instilled that core value in a young officer? I believe their title would be "Field Training Officer" and those officers are composed of VETERANS. Choose your words more carefully sir.

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