HomePublications › How to Conduct an After Action Review


How to Conduct an After Action Review

Publication Date

February 2020


National Policing Institute


Some of the most significant changes to the law enforcement and public safety responses to incidents of mass violence and disasters have occurred as the result of thoughtful and post-incident critical reviews, which have contributed to important national-level discussions about law enforcement strategies and tactics during these events. Conducting AARs following exercises, routine emergencies, and critical incidents provides observations and learning opportunities that can be applied to strengthen future responses and guide agencies as they prepare for future incidents. While many agencies already use an AAR process, this guide is designed to provide information to those who do not regularly engage in AARs as well as to assist those agencies that are interested in building on their current approach. The guide lays out evidence supporting the need to incorporate the AAR process into everyday activities and provides a solid framework and suggestions for undertaking this work in law enforcement agencies of all sizes. Section 1 defines the AAR process and provides a brief history of AARs in a number of public safety and professional fields. Section 2 provides a meta-analysis of 20 AARs—their findings, recommendations, lessons learned, and promising practices. Section 3 provides a detailed step-by-step guide for law enforcement agencies—and relevant stakeholders, if necessary—to conduct AARs. AARs are critical to organizational learning and to strengthen responses in an evolving and increasingly complex operating environment. By honestly reflecting on past experiences, organizations can anticipate emerging challenges, incorporate promising practices, and work collaboratively to evolve and prepare for future events.

Recommended Citation

National Policing Institute. (2020). How to conduct an after action review. https://www.policinginstitute.org/publication/how-to-conduct-an-after-action-review/