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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.

Special Events Duty

Working special events can prepare you for leadership roles in the future.

November 02, 2010  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Tell me if you've been in this scenario.

You're sitting around the precinct and the overtime sheet is posted. There's a special event and the department is seeking volunteers. You stop to think about how you could use the extra cash.

You'll get to hear a great concert or attend a happening event. Then again, there could be protesters or a political visitor, and you'll be stuck standing by a street barricade. You sign up. It's all for the cash, right?

You've heard me say this many times, treat every moment as a learning experience. Working special or extra duty events can be a learning platform for your career. When you look at your future, how are you preparing for it? To advance, you'll need exposure to several different types of law enforcement events to give you a broad experience base. This will help with promotions, transfers to special units or selection to events staffed by more experienced officers. It's all good training for you.

When you check in, don't act nonchalant. Observe everything around you and the entire experience. This may be an ICS (Incident Command System) run event. This is where all of the NIMS/ICS training comes into play. This is a good platform to practice planning skills for future assignments.

Don't tell me you're a young officer, and they'll never use you. Wrong. These events can become dynamic, and you can be a part of the operational set-up. Soak up the experience. This will help you later on.

How special events are set up into sectors with the support logistics is fascinating. Know what resources are available to support the operation gives you a sense of relief. Knowing how communications will work and at what frequency is helpful. Who or what resources are pre-staged is instrumental in officer survival and mission success. Learn to be the leader of tomorrow.

Go to the Emergency Management Institute website, and you'll find several more courses you can take online for credit. There's one I strongly recommend for all who ever work special events from patrol officer level to command level. Take the course, IS-15.b - Special Events Contingency Planning for Public Safety Agencies.

This course will explain why we do certain things when planning such events. It's important that you, as a young officer, learn as much about this as possible. I learned by the school of experience and the seat of my pants, but muddled through. This course will give you some ideas to use now and later may be more effective.

Besides, we're counting on you as the upcoming officers to replace today's commanders. Study hard and learn well; your first event command will be a breeze.

And if it's a really cool concert, call me.

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