Public Safety Voices | Fire Chief Erik Litzenberg

The city’s services and resources were overburdened by a relatively small number of people. We needed to come up with a better way to meet their needs.

“The most rewarding part of my career came very early on when I was a paramedic: Putting my hands on people we were called to assist, and making them better – or feel better – as a result of what I was doing. I believe that’s why we all get in it – to make a difference.

(Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

“And now, as chief, I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to identify problems in the community and find solutions that work. For example, last year we launched the Mobile Integrated Health Office (MIHO) in response to a disconnect in care in our city.

“We have a number of people who are not necessarily getting the care they need, and were disproportionately using up the city’s resources (ambulance, ER, etc.) as a result. We’re nearing 20,000 calls this year [2017] – we need to be able to answer them all.

“Having spent the better part of a decade as a paramedic, I saw firsthand that we didn’t always have the tools to help them – at least we didn’t have the right tools in the right places. Now, with the MIHO, we’re able to track people with more complicated and complex needs; we’re able to design a more personal plan to address the needs of those who are higher users of the city’s resources.

“It’s so nice to be able to provide people with the care they actually need, and it frees up our services and resources to help the larger community through our 911 system. We’re starting to collect really great data on how it’s helping. In fact, the data is overwhelming. We’re changing lives.”

Our Mobile Integrated Health Office is changing lives.

“We were regularly being called to help a single mother with a child (early teens) who has a seizure disorder. The mother has some behavioral issues as well – issues with substance abuse. She had been caring for her child alone for many, many years – even carrying him up and down the stairs twice daily. This was far beyond her capabilities, so there were slip issues, and a number of falls. Furthermore, the child was not always receiving his medications because she didn’t understand how to administer them.

“MIHO did a home assessment; the team immersed themselves in their lives and connected the dots for this family. She needed some physical help – railings on the stairs and a lift assist. The child started getting the medications he needed, and the MIHO team educated people at his school about his conditions and needs as well, enabling them to help, too. It was life-changing for this family to receive help from someone who understood the system.

“Another person who stands out in my mind is a guy who had engaged the city and county systems – 911, ER, and jail – over 200 times in one year. In our integrated care approach, we were able to get his needs met and, as a result, reduced that number to one time in six months.

“Not long ago, a man came walking up to me in a suit and tie. He told me that our program has cleaned him up to the point that he had a job interview that day. It was the same guy. He’s now living a normal, functional life.”

We all share a genuine interest in the citizens we serve and their well-being.

“We take a great deal of pride in our work, and we really do care about all the things we take an oath over – to protect our communities, show compassion and care for the people we serve, and to serve honorably. We share a genuine interest in the citizens and their well-being, and yes, we’re as approachable as it seems.”

Santa Fe, New Mexico Fire Chief Erik Litzenberg



Office of Fire Prevention/Fire Marshal Employees – Your Insights are Requested!

IPMA-HR is currently seeking participants for a nationwide Office of Fire Marshal/Office of Fire Prevention study. This study is the first step in the development of a new series of tests for positions within the Fire Marshal’s Office/Office of Fire Prevention.  In this phase, job incumbents are needed to complete a survey to identify the most important tasks and knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal characteristics (KSAPs) required to perform their job successfully. The questionnaire takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Examples of applicable positions include: 

  • Fire Marshal
  • Deputy Fire Marshal
  • Assistant Fire Marshal
  • Fire Inspector
  • Fire/Arson Investigator
  • Fire Prevention Officer
  • Code Enforcement Officer.

If you or someone you know holds one of the above positions or a similar position, we would greatly value your input in developing our newest test series.

Please Note: If your position has a different title than the positions listed above, but is similar in nature, we would still like to hear from you!

Participants will be entered into a raffle with a $500 prize! Participating agencies will also receive a 15% discount toward a future IPMA-HR assessment product purchase. Interested parties can learn more about the project and complete an interest form using the following link:

If you would like to participate or have additional questions please email our Research Associate, Julia Hind-Smith, at

Public Safety Voices | Director of Campus Public Safety Rebecca Chiles

Being judged by the behavior of a few – that’s our biggest challenge.

“Public perception – who we are and what we’re doing, being judged by the behavior of a few – that’s our biggest challenge. The actions we take to counter that image is to continue doing good things and hiring quality people – and not passing on bad apples. Just getting out and talking to people like normal human beings. It’s hard – the under the breath comments of racial profiling … I’m on the parking review committee, and in a meeting a student, in her appeal she writes that she’s sure she got this ticket because she’s black. She wrote ‘White privilege!!!’ on her appeal. Where did that come from? There is nothing about who a person is on a parking ticket – no box for age or race.

“So, you just keep doing your job and treating everyone fairly and honestly. Being honest. That’s the main thing.”

It’s the little things that make the job rewarding.

“I don’t know that there’s one moment. It’s all the little stuff that makes the job rewarding – when everything comes together, when everyone ‘gets it’ at the same time, then we’re best able to serve. That’s why I’m here.

“For example, we had a ‘Take Back the Night’ event recently; the women’s center on campus organized it. They invited the ADA who prosecutes sex crimes, me and some students to speak at the event. The main speaker canceled at the last minute, so the organizer was rushing around trying to find someone to speak, but instead of one speaker, we all ended up filling in and speaking. We didn’t rehearse; we didn’t talk about what we were going to say with one another. And yet we all said things that played off one another. We said the right things at the right time, it played out beautifully with no coordination. No one could believe it wasn’t rehearsed. It was a really amazing night.”

We’re not superhuman.

“It’s not like it looks on TV. Police officers are people with feelings and fears; we’re not superhuman, we make split-second life or death decisions sometimes.

“I’d like to say something to my fellow officers as well: You have to hold yourselves accountable and your department accountable for the actions of other officers – we don’t want to work with these people. They bring us all down. They bring our communities down. And that’s not why we chose to serve.”

Rebecca Chiles, Director of Campus Public Safety, Western Oregon University

Public Safety Voices: Fire Chief Tom Jenkins

The Millennial workforce presents new challenges. 

“Our primary challenge is how to deal with the youngest generation we employ: the Millennials. We’re used to hiring people who want to be career firefighters, and for the first time ever, our new hires are often not interested in a long-term career. So, how do we keep them motivated and retain them?

“We start by acknowledging that it’s not business as usual. This is just not the same group working here today; they’re not going to conform to what we believe are the best parts of the job. For example, it’s hard to get Millennials to work overtime – they enjoy their time off. We used to work 24 on, 48 off; now we work 48 on, 96 off.

“This generation is also focused on wanting to make a difference, to have an impact – to see and do different things. If things get stagnant or they get bored, then they’re unhappy and want to go elsewhere. So, to combat that, we created diversity in our assignments, e.g., running airport fire stations, special rescue and hazardous materials teams.

“At some point it begins to inch toward a crisis. We can’t compete with the private sector on pay. We offer a great pension, but they live in the now. They’re not thinking about the future.”

At best, fighting fires is only five percent of our job.

“The one thing people don’t respect enough is the wide scope of our business. Over 3,000 people die every year in a fire; it’s still a very real and tangible threat. But a lot of people think all we do is fight fire. At best, that’s five percent of our job.

“We’re the only 24/7 health care industry that still makes house calls. Car wreck, train wreck, chemical spill, chest pains, or a house on fire – we’re the first on the scene. We work to balance all the new and emerging things we do. It’s tough to advocate for so many different things, and be master of all.”

Fire Chief Tom Jenkins, Rogers, Arkansas, Fire Department

New Series! Public Safety Voices

Next week we will begin running a very special new series entitled “Public Safety Voices.” Our goal in creating this series is two-fold: (1) to bring together the public safety community – law enforcement, fire, emergency communications and corrections – through your shared challenges, experiences and goals; and (2) to illuminate the good work, heroism and humanity of our public safety workforce.

The entries will be relatively short – think of it in terms of Humans of New York for public safety professionals – and will come from interviews with public safety professionals all over the country and from coast to coast.

So please check back with us next Tuesday when we’ll bring you the first entry in this exciting new series!

Hello 2018: The End of Year Blog

As is my tradition, this is my end-of- year blog, an annual optimistic look forward. Usually, I concentrate on trends in assessment. Out of a large number of possibilities, I have narrowed it down to:

  • We are a Growth Industry
  • Professionalization
  • The Candidate Experience

Growth Industry

The year 2017 was the year of Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology. Newspaper articles declared I-O Psychology a “hot” job for 2018, a fastest growing job, and a high paying job. Although there are other subfields subsumed under the I-O Psychology label, most of this enthusiasm has been fueled by the growth in the demand for assessment professionals. Diving down further, we can trace our “hotness” to the explosive expansion of unproctored internet-based testing, the gamification of assessments, and a general interest in the application of emerging technologies to preemployment testing. Of course, fame can be fleeting, and predictions often wrong, but as for now at least the future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades. Continue reading

Joint Agency Police Promotional Assessment Centers: An Opportunity for Interagency Cooperation

The current fiscal environment for many law enforcement agencies requires innovative change in practices and procedures.  While we may not be facing the stark challenges of retrenchment budgeting that were common in the 1980s, today many of us have insufficient budgets to achieve all that we seek to accomplish. A joint agency promotional assessment center may enable multiple agencies to realize the benefits of the assessment center at a substantial cost savings.

Background Brief

Human Resource Management costs are significant in public policing.  As a rule of thumb 70-90% of any law enforcement agency’s budget is committed to some aspect of Human Resource Management (HRM).  These costs have been predicted to grow in the future as a result of any number of factors.  But a common factor in any HRM cost equation is the identification, selection and retention of competent and capable supervisors and managers.

Across the nation, several law enforcement agencies have adopted the promotional assessment center as a defensible and fair tool in the selection of supervisors and managers.  However, as many readers know only too well – a functional promotional assessment is an expensive tool[i].   The costs present in any one of several forms – including the significant time commitment of both the candidates and assessors; the logistical support required for a successful center (video recording, appropriate exercise spaces, and scheduling trained actors) as well as the extensive and intensive planning required for a successful assessment center process. Continue reading

Participants Needed for Entry-Level Firefighter Test Study (Discounts Available!)

IPMA-HR is in the final stretch of finishing up the validation study on our entry-level firefighter (FF-EL) test series, but we still need your help!  We are seeking a few more agencies who have administered a test from the FF-EL series to provide us the scores received by firefighters who were selected for the job.

Once we’ve received these test scores from you, we ask that each firefighter’s supervisor complete a brief 9-question performance evaluation.  This will allow us to see whether our tests from the FF-EL series continue to be successful in predicting on-the-job performance.

For your help, you will receive $100 off your agency’s next IPMA-HR assessment order.  In addition, your participation in this project will provide direct evidence supporting the validity of these exams and their use in your agency.

If you would like to participate, please visit the following link to provide your test scores:

FF-EL Validation Study

Our Research Associate, Julia Hind-Smith, will then follow up with you to provide further instructions on completing the performance evaluations.  If you have any questions about the study, please feel free to reach out to Julia at

(Please Note: All information gathered for this study will remain strictly confidential.  The data gathered will be combined with data from other departments and only be reported in the form of group statistics.)

Should We Be Gamifying Our Assessments?

For this month’s blog, I will look at what is one of the hottest questions in private and public-sector personnel selection – “Should we be gamifying our assessments?” In my opinion, the answer is “Yes!” and I will take this blog to explain why.

“Gamification” falls within the larger topic of “how should I incorporate emerging technologies into my assessment strategies.” Now, one might legitimately ask how it is that someone who started doing math on a slide rule can claim to be an expert on emerging technologies. I will simply remind you that Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Paul Allen, Bill Gates, and I were born at roughly the same time. So, despite huge differences in our net worth, we do share a similar generational zeitgeist.

What Does Gamifying Mean?

Gamifying is one type of Technology Enhanced Assessment (TEA). Related types of TEA include:

  • games (so obviously there is a difference between games and gamifying).
  • enhanced item types.
  • the use of avatars.
  • virtual reality.
  • big data and advanced algorithms.

Gamification (or gamifying) is defined as “the application of game mechanics, elements, and features to non-game environments,” or in this case “the application of game-type elements to assessments used in personnel selection.” This differs from the use of true games in selection, although the difference is probably more of a continuum than a sharp distinction, as both games and gamification can be used in personnel selection. The differences between games and gamification can be summarized as:

  • With games, the person knows they are playing a game, whereas with gamification, the applicant still knows they are taking a test.
  • Games are meant to be fun and are structured to have clear rules that define the game play; gamified tests are seen as a more serious activity.
  • Games have different play sections and winning is the goal; gamified tests are structured similar to traditional assessments and getting hired is the goal.

Continue reading

Participants Needed for Office of Fire Marshal Study

IPMA-HR is currently seeking participants for a nationwide Office of Fire Marshal/Office of Fire Prevention study. This study is the first step in the development of a new Fire Marshal Test. The first part of the study involves surveying current members of the Office of Fire Prevention to learn about the important duties and demands of their job.

Examples of applicable positions include, but are not limited to: Fire Marshal, Fire/Arson Investigator, Premise Officer, Deputy Fire Marshal, Fire Prevention Officer, Fire Inspector, and Code Enforcement Officer.

If you or someone you know holds one of the above positions or a similar position, we would greatly value your input in developing our newest test series.

Participants will be entered into a raffle with a $500 prize! Participating agencies will also receive a 15% discount toward a future IPMA-HR assessment product purchase. Interested parties can use the following link to participate:

Fire Marshall Study

Questions can be emailed to our Research Associate, Julia Hind-Smith, at