Setting Squad Expectations: The R.I.D.E.S. Model

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to share positive leadership tactics with the field of law enforcement. Positive leadership starts by creating a positive squad culture. The R.I.D.E.S. Model is a framework for establishing squad expectations that support the goal of cultivating a positive squad culture.


The purpose of establishing a framework is to create guidelines that are flexible to any situation’s circumstances, easy to remember, and easy to apply. The R.I.D.E.S. Model is a framework that is clearly defined and sets officers up for success. Consistency is established by routinely reminding officers that this framework is the expectation that governs everything they do and how they will be evaluated.

The R.I.D.E.S. Model directly addresses the two prongs that define culture – actions and attitudes. Actions and attitudes that fall within the framework of the R.I.D.E.S. Model should be rewarded as a matter of routine practice to reinforce desired behaviors. Rewarding positive behaviors will foster a positive squad culture where every officer knows how to excel under your supervision. Actions and attitudes that fall outside of the framework become easy to address because the model clearly defines the boundaries of what is acceptable. By regularly referencing the R.I.D.E.S. Model, common ground is already established to start conversations addressing issues of concern.

The R.I.D.E.S. Model – ACTIONS

The first task in establishing a framework that supports a positive squad culture is to clearly define what actions your officers are expected to do during a shift. These actions can be broken down into two categories: respond and initiate.

RESPOND: Any action not generated by the officer: report calls, domestic violence calls, fights, alarm calls, disturbances, emergency traffic, etc. Any paperwork generated on any of these calls for service would also fall into this category.

INITIATE: Any action generated by the initiative of the officer: traffic stops, check subjected, close patrols, consensual contacts, beat problems, motorist assists, etc. Any paperwork generated due to the initiative of the officer would also fall into this category.

These two actions, responding and initiating, are a simplified way of categorizing the plethora of actions that may be taken by an officer during any given shift. The expectation is that when the officer is not responding to activity, then they should be looking to initiate activity. On a busy shift with a lot of calls for service, there would be a rise in the amount of time spent responding to activity. On a shift with minimal calls for service, there would be a rise in the amount of time spent initiating activity. This does not establish any specific minimums or maximums limiting an officer’s activity level; nor does it define a hierarchy of actions. This allows officers the ability to work within their areas of strength and succeed accordingly. Obviously, there will be free or available time, but as long as it is not excessive, given the average activity level of the shift,  then it is to be expected and should not count against the officer.

The R.I.D.E.S. Model – ATTITUDES

The second task to establishing a framework that supports a positive squad culture is defining how your officers go about the actions of responding and initiating. There are three necessary attitude components to properly support the actions taken by your officers.

DECIDE: All decisions should be made based upon the law, department policy, best practices/procedures, officer safety, spirit of the law, equality, fairness, and in support of the department’s mission. A sound decision will apply all of these sources equally. As a TBL Leader, you should be conducting briefings with purpose to make sure your officers are trained in the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.

EVALUATE: Every decision, even those made with the best of intentions, should be evaluated as a standard practice. The more that is at risk in the decision, the more evaluation that should be done. Routinely discuss evaluation questions with your officers. When an officers calls you with a question about a call for service they are on, use these same questions to walk them through your decision-evaluation process instead of just giving them the answer. Examples of evaluation questions: What are the options? What evidence is present to support a particular decision? What is the ultimate goal of this decision? What was the decision made and how was it reached? Why was/is this the best course of action? What could be done better the next time a similar situation presents itself? The more officers practice evaluation, the less they will need external confirmation they are making correct decisions you support.

SERVE: Law enforcement serves to protect the community by establishing the thin blue line separating the good from the bad; order from chaos. In doing this, it is imperative for officers to recognize that they have chosen a profession based on service. This is NOT to be confused with being subservient. People are policing and as such officers must always remember their duty to serve their community, department, family, fellow officers, citizens, victims, and even the suspects. Throughout their careers, your officers are going to be asked to take on tasks or assignments that they do not like. The TBL Leader must consistently and strenuously remind them that the work they are doing is valued no matter how big or small the task. Serving is an officer’s “why.” When officers lose their “why,” they lose their way.

By operating within the framework of the R.I.D.E.S. Model, officers are given clear expectations related to time management, production, public interaction, officer interaction, decision making, evaluation thinking, etc. Discuss it daily. Walk through situations/scenarios using it. When you feel sick of talking about it, you will be about halfway to your squad fully accepting, understanding, and integrating it.

The absolutely vital key is for you, the TBL Leader, to consistently reinforce the model and explain the “why” behind it. What is the “why” behind the R.I.D.E.S. Model? To build and establish a positive squad culture that officers desire to be a part of because it is something bigger than themselves.

Do you think the R.I.D.E.S. Model could work in your department?

Share your thoughts or comments with us below or on our Facebook page.

The next blog at Thin Blue Line of Leadership will describe some specific real-world applications of the R.I.D.E.S. Model . . . Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

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