The criminal justice arena is often scrutinized and picked apart when the outcomes of an incident don’t quite meet everyone’s expectations. But the reality is, no one can please everybody all the time. Things may not always go our way, but the important thing is our ability to learn from them. After Action Reviews (AAR) are one of the best ways to ensure missteps are identified and corrected, lessons are learned, and policies and protocols will be adjusted moving forward. This webinar unpacks best practices and recommendations when it comes to conducting your own AARs.
Leading the discussion is Dr. Jeff Fox. A Justice Clearinghouse regular, Dr. Jeff Fox has served criminal justice for almost three decades across different roles and jurisdictions, 21 years of which with the Virginia State Police.
Specifics of this session covered:
- AARs: What it is, how it is underutilized in emergency management and criminal justice, the numerous ways it is being done, and the lack of set guidelines and policy in conducting these.
- The importance of AARs in terms of increasing transparency and accountability, compliance with national accreditation and incident management requirements, and its general value.
- Factors to consider when conducting AARs given the lack of specific guidelines that lay out when it is used, the value of a written policy, requiring feedback from participants and accountability for improvement, its distinction from other activities, and media access.
- A rundown of the elements that must be captured in an effective AAR – from stakeholders, timelines, and maps to action plans, best practices, opportunities for improvement, and decision-making.
- A step-by-step checklist for efficient AARs that examines the scale, facilitator, incident information, and stakeholders to conduct analysis, develop recommendations, and communicate and implement findings.
- Unpacking the AAR process flow – which starts with each representative’s brief and information exchange which leads to recognizing lessons learned and coming up with action plans and follow-ups.
- The central role of an impartial facilitator leading the AAR.
- Conduct and interaction guide during AAR and the key elements of an effective AAR.
- Analysis considerations, steps, and the specific areas to analyze during an AAR.
- What the National Incident Management System (NIMS) prescribe as instructions and inclusions for AARs.
- Factors to consider when determining the type and the scale of the AAR.
- Three essential steps to effective and comprehensive AARs.
- Thorough research of materials and information related to the event.
- A foundational understanding of the incident and organizations involved.
- Identifying and engaging key stakeholders in the incident.
- Best practices to abide by when doing AARs that highlight the importance of open-ended questions, confidentiality, being trauma-informed, putting together a comprehensive report, and sharing the lessons learned with involved stakeholders and even the public.
- Examples were provided to demonstrate the value of AARs for law enforcement agencies and incidents that would have benefitted from an AAR.
- How AAR policy will be primarily shaped by individual agencies.
- Guidelines on drafting a proposed AAR policy that outlines the importance of the specificity of language used, particular conditions and incidents that require an AAR, and the timeline to get the AAR done.
Questions from the webinar attendees are about:
- The details that must be captured in the AAR discussion.
- Whether to address contentions during the AAR or offline.
- Engaging partner agencies to participate in AARs.
- Conducting AARs during roll-calls immediately following an incident.
Other Webinars with This Speaker:
- Dec 6: After Incident Analysis: Best Practices and Recommendations (this webinar)
- Jan 31, 2023: Understanding Police Professionalism
- April 18, 2023: Playing Nice in the Sandbox: The Human Elements of Disaster, Emergency Management and Incident Command
- Sept 19: The Performance Management Process: lessons for Criminal Justice Professionals
- Dec 12: Achieving Excellence coming soon
- “Excellent. Welcome back, Jeff.” — Robert
- “His personal experience gives instant creds. Thanks!” — Kirk
- “The presenter was amazing. I enjoyed his presentation and all the real events examples he shared. It gives more clarity and understanding to the listeners. Thanks.” — Mariam
- “The importance of following up with an AAR for certain circumstances as well as documenting the findings and recommendations. Thank you very much!” — Mary
- “He really knew what he was talking about and his experience came through loud and clear.” — Jenny
- The importance of AARs and it’s a shame that my department refuses to do them. — Dane
- “Learned about a great resource for this topic as well as some pointers for our next AAR. In addition, the information that Dr. Fox provided at the end on some of his leadership publications would be very helpful.” — Craig
- “This was a completely new topic to me and very information.” — Adrienne
- “Procedural and systematic way of doing things during response.” — Alejandro