Collaborative Just Culture in Law Enforcement

Trust, Transparency and Reliability in Law Enforcement

A Webinar for Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police | September 2020

Presented by Chief Charles A. “Chuck” Gruber (ret) and K. Scott Griffith, CEO, SG Collaborative Solutions


In this 46-minute introductory webinar, Chief Chuck Gruber and Scott Griffith describe how the science of risk management and success in other high consequence industries can be applied in law enforcement. They presenters explain how the Sequence of Reliability and Collaborative Just Culture™ provide improved outcomes in policing, protecting both the communities and the officers who serve them. Use-of-force events are given special emphasis as examples.

Primary Audience

Police executives, government officials, and law enforcement professionals.

Key Takeaways

  • Policing is socio-technical, ie., officers working within complex (and often deadly) systems.
  • While policing is unique, law enforcement officials can learn from other high consequence industries. In particular, the US airline industry achieved an 83% reduction in the fatal accident rate from 1998 to 2008 by focusing on everyday risks, rather than just investigating accidents.
  • In order to be reliable in policing, we must live up to multiple values, including safety, human and civil rights, trust and transparency.
  • The Sequence of Reliability requires seeing and understanding risk first, then managing performance in this order: systems, human, and organizational.
  • The Iceberg Model applies to policing: It’s not the adverse events we know about that pose the greatest danger, but rather the everyday interactions serving as precursors to these bad events. In contrast, most police departments wait until adverse outcomes occur before action is taken. Illinois citizens have a right to expect their law enforcement agencies to design force systems that are justified and lawfully used, and that they will manage these systems with transparent and auditable reporting, investigating, reviews and accountability functions.
  • Reliable systems have two attributes. They are 1) effective when things go right, and 2) resilient when things go wrong. Understanding how our systems can fail is essential in law enforcement.
  • Officer reliability can be divided into two categories: 1) Performance – including knowledge, skills, abilities, and other influences, and 2) Behaviors – choices and errors.
  • A Just Culture approach focuses on how police departments respond to three specific categories of behaviors: human error, at-risk choice, and reckless choice – each requiring a unique response.
  • Collaborative Just Culture™ includes a Triad model process modeled after the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP) proven successful in the airline industry. A Collaborative Action Partnership would involve 1) city/police management, 2) police labor association, and 3) an independent accreditation agency.
  • Next Steps: Achieve Triad organizational endorsements, establish Illinois Advisory Committee, invite other key stakeholders, select demonstration sites, monitor and measure results, develop statewide program standards, and educate the public.

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