North Carolina Justice Academy

North Carolina Department of Justice

Tactical Leadership: Critical Lessons Learned

Please check our "Available Training" page for the most current status of the course. 

Who Should Attend:

This course is designed for both tactically and non-tactically trained law enforcement officers aspiring to develop their leadership skills in the initial moments of an evolving incident as well as the management of a scene that has escalated into a Critical Incident (CI).  It introduces younger officers to basic crisis management skills and serves as a refresher of accepted CI procedures for more experienced officers.  Credits for this course apply to the Tactical Training Certificate Program (TTCP).

Course Goals:

To provide the student with technical and cognitive skills needed to provide effective leadership within the context of a critical incident.  The course structure involves the de-escalation of a scene and the management of an incident that has progressed into a CI situation. The course strives to improve the quality of the student’s tactical decision-making abilities by reinforcing mental models and lessons learned based on studies of previous CI scenarios.
The following blocks of training are utilized to achieve the course goal:
1. Tactical Leadership of a critical incident
2. Risk Assessment
3. Lessons Learned:  Case studies
4. Incident command simulation software and tabletop scenarios

Course Objectives:

The course objectives are achieved through lecture, case studies, and having students discuss the principles outlined in the course as they apply to various CI scenarios. A breakdown outlining the focus of each block is:
Tactical Leadership (goal is to improve and/or build upon the student’s leadership style)
  • Fundamentals of the crisis cycle and the human body’s response to the stress of critical incidents.
  • The importance of having high Emotional Intelligence (E.I.) and how to improve it.
  • How understanding the crisis cycle and improving your own E.I. can make the officer a stronger leader before, during and after the experience of a critical incident.
Risk Assessment (goal is to have the students improve upon planning for critical incidents and practicing the way they will respond)
  • The importance of Pre-planning.
  • Knowing what resources you have available and how to prioritize assets before an incident occurs.
Lessons Learned (goal is to reinforce the course’s primary principles through case studies)
  • Incidents that contain valuable insights into the initial decision making cycle of CIs will be dissected to better understand how events unfolded. 
  • Class will discuss lessons learned from previous critical events along with how we can improve through planning and leadership if presented with an incident of similar dynamics.
  • Students will choose an example of a CI to present to the class and discuss the lessons learned from it.
Incident Command Simulator and Tactical Leadership Tabletop (goal is to give students a chance to demonstrate the core principles of the course)
  • Students will work through a simulated critical incident.
  • Students demonstrate the core principles of the course - leadership, teamwork, communication, planning, risk assessment, and critical thinking.
  • The tabletop scenarios give students a chance to practice working through the phases of a CI. (Crisis, Scene Management, Executive Management, and Termination)


This course employs classroom lecture, case studies and open class discussion.  Emphasis is placed on the experiential knowledge of students who have gone through the crisis cycle and CI events thereby reinforcing the emotional expectations for other officers in similar situations. 

Course Requirements:

Attendance is required for all class sessions. In order to satisfactorily complete this course, the student is expected to participate in all class discussions and activities, complete two homework assignments and obtain a minimum score of 75% on a written test to be given at the conclusion of the course.


Register for ALL NCJA classes (online, traditional, web-based) on our North Carolina Justice Academy Training Portal. After signing in to the portal, you can view ALL available classes. If you don’t have a portal account, instructions for creating one are located here.


Course Coordinator:

Scott Tyson

Length of Course:

Five days - 40 hours

 LIMIT 4 students per department

TTCP Accredited