Tag Archives: adaptive decision-making

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The 3 PRIDE Loops

General George S. Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” He recognized that the most important factor to making a decision is time. How much time is available before the circumstances will change for the worse? One second, one minute, one hour, one day, or one week? General Patton knew that there was not much time in war before decisions had to be made, but when not in the fog of war, sometimes time is on your side and sometimes it is not.

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In developing the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model, the exact same constraints regarding time were evident. Hence, the React Phase became the most critical component of the entire model because good decision-making hinges on a person’s ability to quickly assess, on limited information, if a significant decision must be made and, if so, how much time is available to make it in?

Within the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model are 3 distinctive loops. Each of these loops serves a specific purpose in the process of making safe, sound decisions. This blog is going to reference the 3 loops within the PRIDE 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 is the critical factor.

Let’s explore these 3 loops . . .

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 which keeps him or her aware of their current circumstances and is searching for the next opportunity to make a decision of significance.

In an article shared recently by Patrick Van Horne, co-author of “Left of Bang”, Dr. Mica R. Endsley defined situational awareness with three levels: Level 1: Perception of Elements in Current Situation, Level 2: Comprehension of Current Situation, and Level 3: Projection of Future Status. In essence, the P-R-E Loop includes the same levels, but in a slightly different order of occurrence. (Towards a Theory of Situational Awareness in Dynamic Systems; Human Factors; 1995)

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.

Just a Few Examples:

  • 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 PRIDE 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 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. Invesitgate could include determining 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 taking 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.

Just a Few Examples:

  • Making the determination if a crime has or has not been committed during a delayed report call.
  • Making an arrest decision while on a domestic dispute call.
  • 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.
  • A detective using multiple P-R-I-D-E Loops to determine the best course of action for an 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. 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.  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 these types of 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. 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 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 critical decision is probably about to be needed.

Just a Few Examples:

  • 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.
  • Negotiating with a suicidal subject to not take their life.
  • Immediately starting C-C-C on a subject that is not breathing.

While each of the loops within the PRIDE 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. 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.

Now that the individual components and the loops of the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model have been defined, in the next blog we will discuss how law enforcement leaders can best use this information with their officers. No matter the department, developing sound decision-makers is vital to leading an organization into 21st century policing.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!

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PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model

For years, police training has made the mistake of trying to simplify policing by making rigid “if/then” or numerically sequenced “police by numbers” policies. All this has done is create ever-growing books of police operation orders that no one could ever memorize completely. While well intentioned, this type of training ultimately results in developing officers that struggle processing information or handling situations that do not meet the “if/then” policies they were taught. This impedes an officer’s decision-making and puts them at greater risk of making poor decisions which could result in rights violations, getting injured, or possibly killed.

With the current climate surrounding policing, we cannot afford to have officers routinely making poor decisions. We, as supervisors of police officers, also do not want to see our men and women in uniform injured, killed, violate rights, or become the next “what not to do in policing” YouTube sensation. Therefore, it is vital that we recognize the best way to assist our officers is to provide training, both officially at in-service trainings and unofficially in the briefing room, that focuses on decision-making. To be more specific, we need to focus on adaptive decision-making that trains officers to creatively work their way through problems using available information and knowledge base prioritization to come to decisions that are safe, effective, within policy, within the law, and ethically right.

Over the years working with my squads, I developed the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model. I have trained every one of my officers in this model and have seen it work on every type of call imaginable. Whether it is a traffic stop, burglary report, subject with a weapon, tactical barricade situation, or a collision scene; this model teaches officers to use their knowledge, experience, and skills to adapt and overcome the problems they face from shift to shift.

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PREDICT: The PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model starts with predicting what the possible outcomes of a given situation may be or playing the “what if” game, as some like to call it. The better an officer is at visualizing possible outcomes and solutions, the better the concluding decision 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 PRIDE 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, 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 and continue the situational awareness loop.

* If there is time to think and gather more information, proceed to Investigate.

* If there is NO time to think and gather more information, proceed to Decide.

INVESTIGATE: When there is time to think and gather more information, the next step in the PRIDE 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 such as the who, what, when, where, and why of the situation from various sources. It is also the time when an officer that is unfamiliar with this type of situation, can gather relevant information from either their Department Field Orders, State Legal Statutes, or the experience of a trusted source.

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In the transition between React and Decide, the specific circumstance of the incident at hand must pass through the officer’s prioritized knowledge filters. As the information flows through the knowledge filters, relevant knowledge gets applied. The filters of a police officer should include their organizational culture, department mission, experience, skills, and knowledge.  The organizational culture and department mission create a lens that should shadow all decisions. This is the reason law enforcement leaders cannot take organizational culture and mission for granted; significant resources, time, and effort should be dedicate to these areas throughout a department. Experience, knowledge, and skills are all obtained through classroom, reality-based, and on-the-street training. Once all applicable knowledge and experience has been applied to the circumstances of the incident, then a decision can be made.

DECIDE: The next step in the PRIDE 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 then 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. Certainty 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.”

EVALUATE: The final step in the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model is to Evaluate. Evaluation of decisions is critical to the continuation of the adaptive decision-making loop. Was the last decision a success or was it a failure? Both successes and failures lead to learning and add experience which will be available for the officer to draw from in the next revolution of the adaptive decision-making loop. Once an incident is completed and there are no more 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 PRIDE Decision-Making Model applies to making decisions on both large and small scales. The larger the scale, the more cycles of the loop that will need to be completed before a final outcome can be reached. When steps in the loop are skipped, used out of order, or done in a half-assed manner; that is when no or poor decisions are made.

The applications of the PRIDE 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 PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model will make for better learning outcomes than any rigid “if/then” or numerically sequenced “police by numbers” policies.

Try the PRIDE Adaptive Decision-Making Model out for yourself. Imagine that you received a call for service of a burglary alarm at a residence. Walk yourself through all the decisions that must be made just to handle a simple call like this to test its application.

The mission at Thin Blue Line of Leadership is to inspire law enforcement supervisors to be the best leaders they can be by providing positive leadership tactics and ideas. Positive leadership and creating a positive squad culture are on-going commitments that must be nurtured and developed over time. Thin Blue Line of Leadership is here to help.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have ideas to share or suggestions for improvement. Your thoughts or comments on this blog are always appreciated either below or on our Facebook page. You can also follow us on Twitter at @tbl_leadership.

Continue saving the world one call at a time and as always, LEAD ON!