By: Chris Carden, National Director 

Seems that “normal” may never be normal again. I cannot remember a period of time in my life when there was so much uncertainty, confusion, and misinformation being passed around. Everyday we hear something new, this not that, a push here or a pull there. Seems as if there’s no real linear leadership to follow. For law enforcement leaders we don’t have that option, we can’t allow any situation, big or small, including a pandemic, to dictate how we communicate across our agency. The fact is, we can’t stop, alter, slow down, or change the needs of our customers! If anything, when a crisis comes our way, we have to become more efficient, more engaged on a much bigger scale.

I’ve remarked before about all of the bells and whistles, functionality, RMS capabilities, and not to mention the training, the first time I saw our Agency Management System at Virtual Academy. However, there was one really cool feature that stood out to me the most and that is the ability to communicate immediately across your agency in practically any format in a secure environment. I can distinctly remember the frustration with employees not checking their work emails when I would push out, what I thought, was important information. I longed for a way to take “I didn’t know” out of the bucket of excuses.

The Virtual Academy communications feature, or announcements as it is referred to on the actual Agency Management System (AMS), works very similar to Facebook or similar social media platforms. Think of the clipboard in the roll call room; announcement after announcement all two-hole punched and there forever. Now, take that same concept but create digital versions of the announcement that you can edit, and be 100% positive everyone got the message. For instance, let’s say you had an officer-involved traffic accident. We’ve all been there—the phone starts ringing from off-duty guys wanting to know who, what, when, where, why, and how is he or she. With a Virtual Academy announcement, you could make sure that everyone got the same message, the same way, with the same content, at the same time! Additionally, you can include pictures, video, links, etc.

I remember a crash we had once where the officer was severely injured. There was a drunk driver going the wrong way down the four lane and crashed right into the driver’s side of the patrol unit at speed. It appeared on the onset that the officer may not survive. Information was sporadic from the scene, hospital, and headquarters. With the Virtual Academy announcement tool all of that can be avoided and the messaging not only can be consistent, but directly from you!

I tell people all the time, “We are so much more than training!”