Fatal shootings of police officers reached a 20-year high in the middle of 2011.1 Police chiefs must commit to identify and eliminate the sources by which violent offenders obtain firearms used to target members of police departments and citizens within communities. Leaders cannot simply invest in training to prepare officers to survive deadly encounters or conduct professional violent crime investigations after the fact. Chiefs must act strategically and lead a systematic approach that disarms the criminal before violence occurs. Recent mass shootings in the United States underscore this necessity.
The good news for police leaders is that the tools required to honor this commitment already are available for free, and most departments are employing at least some of them. The question is how effectively is one’s department taking advance of simple methods to identify and eliminate illicit sources of guns to criminals to protect officers and communities?