Time to fill up your Rolodex!

Time to Fill up Your Rolodex!

By: Dave Pfeifle, SDPAA Executive Director

Everyone engaged in local public service has endured the more recent “cascading crises” which have impacted local governments. Members of the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA) have weathered these storms with amazing tenacity and fortitude. Thank you for serving your local communities!

Now more than ever local governments need training that will prepare them for these crises before they unfold. The ability to make the “right call” at exactly the “right time” can mean the difference between a good and bad outcome. The hundreds of law enforcement officers with whom I have worked have always said crisis situations require a Rolodex of information your brain must sort through in a split-second. Having the right information in your Rolodex (it’s a rotating card holder for this column’s younger readers) should lead to a correct decision. Creating and storing the right information in your Rolodex requires proper training. In 2019, the SDPAA co-sponsored crisis intervention training for South Dakota’s local law enforcement. The timing and content of this training were proven vital by the local and national events which transpired afterward. The SDPAA is sponsoring and/or coordinating new training this year on the more likely scenarios to be encountered by local government employees in South Dakota. This exciting new training will be added to an already extensive array of training offered by the SDPAA through its trusted vendor, Safety Benefits, Inc. (SBI). The three new areas of training will focus on the following:

  1. Digital Leadership Strategy

The digital age impacts every facet of how we live, work and play. These advancing technologies require an organizational commitment to implementing technology improvements at every level to effectively continue its public service mission. This year the SDPAA will offer a training series on developing an organizational culture that embraces new technologies and develops a “digital leadership strategy.” The SDPAA is sponsoring Mike Grigsby to offer this training. Mike was a long-time law enforcement officer in Kansas City, Missouri when he attended a seminar on the coming digital age. He realized he wanted to be at the forefront of this emerging change and began his second career working in the technology sector. He worked for a private technology firm then served the City of Kansas City’s Transit Authority and most recently the City of Sioux Falls. He continues to offer training and consultations to federal, state, and local governments. He has trained officers of the U.S. Army, among many others, on the importance of embracing new technologies and how an organization can improve its service to the public by utilizing these technologies. A component of this strategy is to have a plan to deal with a possible cyber incident, i.e., a cyber crisis. We look forward to hearing from Mike over the next several months.

  1. Physical Security Training

Local and national news reports of new threats to our physical security have become eerily commonplace. These threats exist and sometimes erupt in South Dakota as SDPAA Members have experienced a rising number of these unique physical threats to their team members and to their physical facilities. The SDPAA has arranged for additional training to be conducted on physical security threats for local governments. This training will be led by Scott Davis, the Physical Security Advisor in South Dakota for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He has a background in federal law enforcement and will be presenting on various physical threats at local government conferences this year. We look forward to hearing his insights and tips for dealing with these types of incidents.

SDPAA is also having SBI conduct more inquiries into possible physical security threats as part of their loss control surveys conducted every three years for SDPAA Members. Scott has offered to assist SBI in evaluating the more common risks and possible remedial steps for addressing them.

  1. Public Information Officer Training

Any response to a local crisis requires the marshaling of community assets through effective communication and coordination among those local resources. Sandy Frentz has been in public service for over three decades while serving the last fifteen years as a Public Information Officer (PIO) on behalf of the State of South Dakota and many local governments. She has gleaned much wisdom from her years of public service. She knows first-hand the communication challenges for a community facing a crisis in South Dakota. She has war stories to tell from dealing with tornadoes, floods, pandemics, and more! In her modest way, she will inform you about the mistakes she learned to avoid from these experiences. The SDPAA will sponsor Sandy to present PIO training to local governments at several conferences this year. It is interesting to note we had originally planned to have Sandy present on this topic in 2020, but then the pandemic required her skills to be utilized elsewhere.

In addition to these latest training opportunities, the SDPAA through its local vendor SBI offers thousands of hours of other training on hundreds of topics. Several thousand local government employees and officials benefit from this training every year. If you are not a Member of the SDPAA but believe your public entity’s team members would benefit from these training and many other SDPAA services, then please contact the SDPAA office at 800-658-3633 option 2 or by email at sdpaa@sdmunicipalleague.org.