'Weak Signals' of Unrest and Upcoming Policing Changes (June 1, 2020 Pooling Perspective)


By Ann Gergen, Executive Director

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been participating in small weekly meetings with people from different backgrounds who share a keen interest in local public entities. Each week, we’ve shared “weak signals” (i.e., underappreciated, hard-to-spot and often surprising indicators of upcoming change), looking for connections and ways to make sense of current events and future possibilities.

One important weak signal we’ve talked about is the pent-up frustration and anger likely to arise out of our current coronavirus-affected environment. These stressors extend beyond the virus itself but may be related to it. Examples include relationships suffering under the stress of job loss and financial problems, pre-existing mental health needs going unmet, new instances of depression, increasing rates of physical abuse, and more. 

Our group has talked more than once about the potential for violence in the public sphere – not because of the pandemic, but bubbling and simmering alongside health, economic, mobility and other pandemic-related pressures before boiling over.

With these conversations in mind, it’s been sobering to witness both the recent in-custody death of George Floyd and the subsequent reactions. We can all appreciate the impact these events are likely to have on local governments and communities served by pools, with law enforcement interactions as just one area of focus.

I think it’s fair to say policing is going to change in notable ways. Even while pools continue to focus on the pandemic, law enforcement–related issues are likely to become an additional priority. There will be changes in police standards, training requirements, leadership expectations, community-oriented policing tactics, hiring practices, people who enter law enforcement as a career choice, legal defenses, public attention to police activities, and more.

If your pool has a role in law enforcement liability or workers’ compensation coverage, conducts police training, produces model policies, or performs related risk management activities, now is a good time to scan for signals – whether weak or strong – about the future of policing and its impact on communities so you can provide guidance, support, service and leadership to your members.


Ann Gergen is AGRiP’s executive director and a former pool administrator. She has worked closely with and for pools, public entities, reinsurers and related service providers throughout her career.

Each week, Ann will offer insight into COVID-19 issues AGRiP members are experiencing and related trends to monitor. For more, access the full series of COVID-19 perspective posts.

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