Small Agencies Big Incidents: Adaption of Incident Command Systems to Manage Crisis Incidents with Tactical and Combat Inclusions
Regardless of size, law enforcement agencies are increasingly challenged with crises that range from natural disasters, mass casualty incidents, and simple calls for service that expand to the unexpected in a moment's notice. Leaders and officers of law enforcement agencies are expected to handle and resolve these challenges in a safe way. This mandate means that the small agency, rurally placed, without the benefit of a large budget and endless manpower faces unique issues in meeting crisis demands. Without manpower and with only limited resources, small agencies must think through bigger and more restrictive issues more carefully than their larger department counterparts who have more manpower and extensive budgets that allow for a specialized response. Small agencies are forced to think their way through issues and work with only the management tools available. Thus, they must pre plan and consider how incidents can be responded to in a systematic way that will result in a proactive pathway to ensure safety and accountability. The practical application of the Incident Command System (ICS) to incidents with tactical or combat elements, when practiced from patrol officer to the top, as well as laterally, department to department, is a powerful tool that will assist in the organization of resources (manpower included) to save time and lives. Although law enforcement agencies receive training in ICS, many agencies, because of small size and limited budgets, fail to practice the day-to-day fundamental principles of the system. While small agencies may not be able to control or fund a large-scale event through to completion, they will be the initial responding agency and the one that must control the incident until assistance arrives.