Decision Making, Groups and Individuals

Course Description:leadership

Law enforcement officers, supervisors, and leaders are required to make high-stakes decisions almost daily. The quality of those decision can have a decisive impact on the organization’s effectiveness. While good decisions can improve the quality of services, productivity, and morale, poor decision can lower effectiveness, expose the organization to costly litigation, and endanger lives. This course provides students with the attitudes, skills, and knowledge necessary to make sound decision in today’s complex, ever-evolving environments. Now more than ever, law enforcement officers and leaders need a clear understanding of the decision-making process, as well as the knowledge and tools to avoid pitfalls and bias.

This one-day course offers a highly interactive, case-based approach to effective decision making. The course materials are delivered in ways designed to maximize student participation and learning through a combination of small-group learning exercises, facilitated discussions, and problem-solving activities. Students will learn the basics of good critical thinking, how to avoid common errors and biases, and how to recognize and avoid the symptoms of group think, as well as strategies for improving decision making under stress.


To provide students with the attitudes, skills, and knowledge necessary to make good decisions, while recognizing common biases and errors.

Course Outline:

  • Rational model of decision making
  • Role of emotions
  • Effects of “fight or flight”
  • Two systems for processing information and making decisions
  • Recognizing and avoiding cognitive biases
  • Principles of good critical thinking
  • Attitudes and traits of good critical thinkers
  • Evaluating, understanding, and using evidence
  • Strategies for improving individual decision making
  • Advantages and disadvantages of group decisions
  • Symptom of group think
  • Tools and techniques for avoiding group think
  • Understanding intuition
  • After-action reports

The Instructor:

Brian Fitch, Ph.D., is a lieutenant and a 33-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Dr. Fitch is a nationally recognized expert who has trained more than 25,000 law enforcement professionals in leadership, communication, decision making, and ethics throughout the United States, as well as abroad in Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Fitch holds faculty positions at Woodbury University and Southwestern University School of Law. Dr. Fitch has published more than 25 articles on leadership, communication, and ethics in Police Chief, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Law Enforcement Executive Forum, Auspol, RCMP Gazette, and Law and Order, among others. Dr. Fitch has published and edited four books, including Law Enforcement Ethics: Classic and Contemporary Issues (Sage, 2013); and Law Enforcement Interpersonal Communication: The IMPACT Model (Sage, 2015). He is a graduate of the California Commission on POST Master Instructor Development Program and Cornell University’s Executive Leadership Program. Dr. Fitch holds a master’s degree in communication studies and a doctorate in human development.

Course Pre-requisites: Sworn Law Enforcement

Special Equipment/Other Needs: None

Total Course Hours: 8 Hours

Training Activity: Classroom

Approved Course List: 30 Maximum

Course Number: Not in course catalog

Course Justification: Counter-Terrorism Investigations and Law Enforcement - 2.1: The law enforcement community will ensure that suspects involved in criminal activities related to homeland security are successfully identified, deterred, detected, disrupted, investigated, and apprehended.

Target Discipline: LE Supervisors at all levels, including FTO, corporal, and sergeant, lieutenant.

Training Level: Performance Defensive (Operations)