Supervisory Update Resources
Every supervisor who directly oversees law enforcement work requires a plan for keeping up to date. No single source is likely to fill this need, so the best plan may be to incorporate several resources, including these:
- Professional Publications—Every month, POLICE Magazine contains a "Point of Law" article covering recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings and other case law that remains valid but not well-known or well-understood. Other professional publications include the "FBI Bulletin" and state and national association journals. Local training bulletins distributed to line officers should also be routed to their supervisors. (General interest newspapers and broadcast programs are not a reliable source of information because they are frequently mistaken about the actual holding of court decisions.)
- Roll-call Video Programs—In many jurisdictions, law enforcement training officials produce and distribute DVD or online training segments that can be shown during regular briefings. Supervisors can sit in during briefings or view these programs separately at a more convenient time.
- In-service Classes—Even though supervisors must primarily attend leadership classes, they should also make an effort to monitor the legal update classes they send their officers to attend. If at least one supervisor is able to attend such training, he or she can pass along the latest changes to other supervisors in the department. And those who design training courses for supervisors should include a legal update class to highlight recent case law and legislation.
It's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Things change. Some of yesterday's rules of investigative procedure no longer apply. Some of today's may change tomorrow. Supervising men and women who wear badges and carry guns is a serious responsibility. Taking it seriously requires supervisors to stay informed of the changes. And when officers return from update training, shouldn't they find their supervisors with open minds?
Devallis Rutledge, a former police officer and veteran prosecutor, currently serves as Special Counsel to the Los Angeles County District Attorney. His latest book is "Criminal Investigations and Evidence."