The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) and the National Police Foundation will soon be releasing a guidebook detailing how to conduct an after action review (AAR). The guidebook defines the AAR process following incidents and exercises of all sizes and provides an overview of their importance to law enforcement and public safety agencies committed to creating a culture of learning. It also identifies common themes and brief summaries of key findings, recommendations, promising practices, and lessons learned from 20 AARs of mass violence and mass demonstration incidents. It concludes with a detailed step-by-step guide for law enforcement agencies and relevant stakeholders to conduct an AAR with explanations of each step, how the steps tie into the larger process, and additional guidance.
The guidebook also lays out evidence supporting the need to incorporate the AAR process into everyday activities and provides a solid framework and suggestions for undertaking this work in law enforcement agencies of all sizes. AARs are critical to organizational learning and strengthening responses in an evolving and increasingly complex environment. Creating and instilling a culture that encourages continuous learning is vital to ensuring first responder safety and wellness and building effective responses to enhance community safety.
As part of the COPS Office’s effort to provide guidance and education about AARs, a new eLearning course designed for all levels of police practitioners—developed by the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation (VCPI)—has also been released on the COPS Office Training Portal.
To access the AAR Guidebook, visit the COPS website at https://cops.usdoj.gov/RIC/Publications/cops-w0878-pub.pdf, and to sign up for the eLearning course, visit the COPS Office Training Portal at https://copstrainingportal.org/after-action-review-and-reporting-an-introduction/. For more information about conducting an AAR, the AAR process, and a library of mass violence and mass demonstration AARs visit https://www.policefoundation.org/critical-incident-review-library/.