Police self-deployment at critical incidents: a wicked problem or a part of the solution?
Brookes, Anna C.
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Police self-deployment, described generally as the unauthorized mass response of officers to critical incidents, is alternately condemned or hailed as heroism. Confined to response narratives in after-action reports, existing literature provides no comprehensive definition. Without clear principles, it is challenging to prevent the problems produced by self-deployment such as traffic congestion and diminished command and control; nevertheless, encouraging the ingenuity and initiative leading to heroic and lifesaving acts is equally difficult. Many of the descriptions of police self-deployment match characteristics of wicked problems, as proposed by Horst Rittel and Melvin Webber. Using a case study analysis of police responses to the 2013 Christopher Dorner manhunt and 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, this thesis explored police self-deployment through the lens of wicked problems. A better understanding of the definition resulted in policy and training recommendations, including the suggestions that law enforcement embrace, rather than prohibit, self-deployment and that federally mandated incident command policies incorporate the early minutes of a critical event known as the edge of chaos.
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