THE P-R-I-D-E ADAPTIVE DECISION-MAKING MODEL EXPLAINED
PREDICT: The P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model starts with predicting what the possible outcomes or results of a given situation may be depending upon solutional decisions being considered based upon what is currently known about the who, what, when, where, and why of the situation. The better an officer is at visualizing possible outcomes and solutions, the better the decisions will be. The amount of prior experience and training an officer has directly correlates to the accuracy of the officer’s predictions regarding what could be coming. Another aspect of predicting is considering the initial role or mindset that would be best suited for the situation – warrior, guardian, enforcer, caregiver, medic, tactician, etc. The major benefit of predicting, especially accurate predictions, is that it lessens both the stress level and the initial reaction time for getting to a decision.
REACT: The next step in the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to React. The officer must react to the reality of the situation they are now presented with in front of them. Does it confirm their prediction or is there new information or situational feedback to update the prediction with? React is based upon human instincts of fight/flight and self-preservation. Officer safety considerations must be part of the initial read of the situation. This step is not solely selfish in nature; it is also goal-oriented based upon the culture and mission of the role the officer is in. The primary questions being answered in this step are . . . Do I need to make a significant decision, do I have time to think/investigate further, or do I need to make an immediate decision? The amount of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and anxiety) present in the situation will lead the officer to the appropriate next step.
* If no significant decision needs to be made, proceed to Evaluate. (P-R-E Situational Awareness Loop)
* If there is time to think and gather more information through investigation, proceed to Investigate. (P-R-I-D-E Loop – Patient Decisions)
* If there is NO time to think further and gather more information, proceed directly to Decide. (P-R-D-E Loop – Urgent Decisions)
INVESTIGATE: When there is time to think and gather more information, the next step in the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to Investigate. Time to think does not necessarily mean that the danger of a situation is not still real and present, but it means that the officer has reached a point where they can gather new information about the situation from various sources. It is also the time when an officer that is unfamiliar with this type of situation, can reference their own knowledge, skills, and experience or gather relevant information from their Department Field Orders, State Legal Statutes, or the other trusted source such as a supervisor or more experienced officer.
In the transition between React and Decide, the specific circumstance of the incident at hand pass through the officer’s prioritized knowledge filters. As the information flows through the knowledge filters, relevant knowledge, skills, and experience get applied. The filters of a police officer include their organizational culture, department mission, knowledge, skills, and experience. The organizational culture and department mission create a lens that leads all officers’ decisions. This is the reason law enforcement leaders cannot take the organizational culture and mission for granted; significant resources, time, and effort should be dedicate to these areas throughout a police department. Experience, knowledge, and skills are all obtained through classroom, reality-based, and on-the-street training. Once all applicable knowledge, skills, and experience have been applied to the circumstances of the incident, then a decision can be made.
DECIDE: The next step in the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to Decide. When making the final decision, the phrase “take deliberate action” best describes what should be expected of an officer. Deliberate action means that the officer makes the decision and can articulate their reasoning, intent, and expected outcome(s) clearly and effectively. In the law enforcement world, this usually comes out in the form of a report about the incident that highlights major decision-making points; for example, why force was used or why an arrest was made. Deliberate action also implies that an officer is confident in their decision and proceeded forward without hesitation. Confidence in a decision is absolutely dependent upon the experience, skills, and knowledge the officer brought into the situation to begin with. As the great Peyton Manning once said, “Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you are doing.”
The other important aspect about Decide that specifically occurs when time is a significant factor (P-R-D-E Loop) is that decisions will be based primarily on experience. This is the basis of recognition primed decision making (RPDM). Knowledge and skills will only be applied to the level they are completely and confidently understood. During situations of high VUCA, officers will revert to their lowest level of understanding for knowledge/skills and will apply the most similar solution to what they have previously experienced.
EVALUATE: The final step in the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to Evaluate. Evaluation of decisions is critical to the continuation of the adaptive decision-making loops. Was the last decision a success or was it a failure? Why or why not? Should I keep doing the same thing or should I try something different? Both successes and failures lead to learning and add experience which will be available to the officer to draw upon in the next revolution of the adaptive decision-making loops.
Once an incident is completed and there are no more significant decisions to be made regarding its outcome, the final part of the Evaluate step is to share what was learned with others. When decision-making processes are shared with others, additional information is gained from their feedback and then added to the officer’s knowledge filters that will be available the next time a similar incident occurs. It also builds up the other officer’s knowledge filters, as well. In turn, both officers are better for discussing the process for formulating the decision(s) that handled the incident.
THE 3 LOOPS OF THE P-R-I-D-E ADAPTIVE DECISION-MAKING MODEL
Within the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model are 3 distinctive loops. Each of these loops serves a specific purpose in the process of making good, safe decisions in moments of VUCA. This explanation is going to reference the 3 loops within the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model in terms of how they apply to a police officer’s decision-making. These loops could just as easily be applied to any other profession which requires making decisions during moments of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and anxiety) where time may or may not be a critical factor.
PREDICT-REACT-EVALUATE (P-R-E) LOOP: This is the smallest of the loops, but one of the most vital when it comes to keeping officers safe. Predict-React-Evaluate is not used for making decisions of significance, but it does serve the purpose of maintaining a state of situational awareness. The P-R-E Loop is a continuously running loop within an officer’s mind of Predict-React-Evaluate which keeps him or her aware of their current circumstances and is searching for the next opportunity to make a decision of significance.
To keep an officer from being behind the curve, Predict requires the officer to consider possible circumstances, threats, outcomes, and solutions that may be relevant to the situation at hand. As the officer continues into the situation, they must React by receiving feedback from the actual circumstances they encounter which either confirms or negates their predictions. It also offers updated information, primarily sensory in nature, to add to their next P-R-E Loop. If there is no need for a decision of significance, then they proceed to Evaluate the differences between the Predict/React Phases and return to Predict what may come next. This continual loop of Predict-React-Evaluate provides the officer with a state of situational awareness.
The best of the best officers can do this continually throughout a shift without giving it a second thought. It is the P-R-E Loop that creates situational awareness and leads to good officer safety. On the other hand, when the P-R-E Loop is not being used continuously, that is when officers are complacent and apt to find themselves in ill-advised situations.
Another important point regarding the Predict-React-Evaluate Situational Awareness Loop is that once the officer becomes focused on making a significant decision and switches to one of the decision-making loops, their level of situational awareness will decrease proportionally to the significance of the decision at hand.
- Driving in traffic making observations of possible traffic violations.
- Approaching a call for service location and exiting the patrol vehicle.
- On a foot patrol in a crowded public area.
- Many, many more.
PREDICT-REACT-INVESTIGATE-DECIDE-EVALUATE (P-R-I-D-E) LOOP: The largest loop of the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model encompasses all 5 phases of the adaptive decision-making model. The key factor in utilizing the P-R-I-D-E Loop is that the officer recognizes that time is on their side. There is time to gather new information regarding the decision at hand before needing to make a significant decision. Because there is more time available and additional information can be gathered, this loop should generate the most developed and effective decisions, but at the cost of time.
The first two steps remain the same, Predict and then React. When recognized in the React Phase that time is available, the officer can investigate the situation further to uncover previously unknown details that build context to the situation. Invesitgate includes exploring further the who, what, when, where, how, and why of the incident. If an officer finds that they are in an unfamiliar situation, they also have time to gather new information from department policies/procedures, state legal statutes, a trusted source for advice, or any other resource that may have relevant information regarding the circumstances. There must also be a level of understanding that the officer will never be able to gather all possible information, but they must try to accumulate as much as they can in the time they have available to them. Once all the new information regarding the situation is brought into consideration, the mind very quickly begins to apply its prioritized knowledge filters while beginning to formulate a decision. As all relevant experience, skill, and knowledge is applied to the situation, then a decision will be forth coming. Upon reaching Decide, deliberate action must be taken to put the decision into motion. As with all of the loops, the final step is to Evaluate the decision and then continue into the next loop.
How does an officer know when time is not a significant factor? Because waiting to make the decision will not make the situation destabilize and may, in fact, make the decision better.
- Making the determination if a crime has or has not been committed during a delayed report.
- Making an arrest decision on a call for service.
- Conducting a collision investigation and deciding which driver gets the citation.
- While part of a contact team with no stimulus present to push the need for entry on a barricaded subject.
- A detective using multiple P-R-I-D-E Loops to determine the best course of action for their investigation.
PREDICT-REACT-DECIDE-EVALUATE (P-R-D-E) LOOP: The P-R-D-E Loop is used to make decisions in the highest stress, most time critical moments. In this loop, an officer is primarily relying on their previous experience to formulate their decisions (RPDM). There is just not enough time to use a skill that has not been fully developed or academic knowledge that has never been applied to a real situation previously. It is within this loop that muscle memory, recognition-primed decision-making, or statements like “my training just kicked in” are used to describe how these types of decisions are formulated. More than anything, human beings trust their prior experience and in high VUCA situations, that is true ten-fold.
The steps of Predict and React occur as they normally would; the React Phase recognizes the situation for what it is and notes that a decision must be made quickly. It must be accepted that because these are high stress moments, incomplete or poor predictions and reactions can occur if training to handle high stress moments has not occurred previously. Due to the limitation of time, the Investigate Phase is skipped because Decide needs to occur as soon as possible and it must be with the information currently present. Upon making the decision and the necessary deliberate action occurring, the Evaluate Phase becomes an extremely vital component to a successful P-R-D-E Loop. Rarely will a single decision bring an end to a high VUCA situation. Evaluation of the decision must occur promptly because most likely another significant decision is probably about to be needed.
How does an officer know when time is a significant factor? Because waiting a reasonable amount of time will make the situation destabilize.
- Shoot or don’t shoot situations.
- Clearing an intersection while driving Code 3 to a call.
- Making entry as part of a crisis team.
- Choosing the appropriate level of force to use during a situation.
- Being in a fight.
- Immediately starting C-C-C on a subject that is not breathing.
While each of the loops within the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model have been written about in isolation, it is importance to recognize that in reality these loops are occurring simultaneously at many different levels. A single call for service could have hundreds of significant decision loops and thousands of smaller less significant decision loops handled through a schema or heuristic. It is for this reason that officers that are known to be good decision-makers, especially under stress, are so valued in the law enforcement profession.
The P-R-I-D-E Decision-Making Model applies to making decisions on both large and small scales. The larger the scale, the more cycles of the loops that will need to be completed before a final outcome can be reached. When steps in the loops are skipped, used out of order, or done in a half-assed manner; that is when no or poor decisions are made. This model provides a language for officers, supervisors, training units, and departments to use when assessing decision-making in the high risk environments law enforcement frequents.
The applications of the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model are endless, but its most direct application would be to use it as the basis of a police department’s training program. Whether training in firearms, defensive tactics, emergency driving, report writing, courtroom testimony, tactical operations, handling calls for service, or any other topic, relating it to the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model will make for better learning outcomes than any rigid “if/then” or numerically sequenced “police by numbers” policies.
The key to the P-R-I-D-E Adaptive Decision-Making Model is that it can be used adaptively in any circumstance where decisions need to be made. It accounts for having situational awareness and the need for making both fast and slow decisions. It works great for policing, but can expand into many, many situations and circumstances.