Policing and the ISO

download (1)It’s funny the things you can find on the Internet while looking for something else. In my case, it was learning about the ISO — The International Organization for Standardization. I found out this organization is the world’s largest developer of voluntary international standards. I thought there could be some standards that could also apply to police. I was right.

ISO 9000 applies to the implementation of quality management principles within government and industry. This standard has to do with implementing Quality Management. The stuff I talk about in this blog, my book, and the Madison, Wisconsin police transformation I shepherded a number of years ago using Deming’s Principles, Servant Leadership, and developing a new way of being a leader called, “Quality Leadership.”

The principles of quality management according to the ISO are

  1. Customer focus: Organizations depend on their customers and therefore should understand current and future customer needs, should meet customer requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations.
  2. Leadership: Leaders establish unity of purpose and direction of the organization. They should create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organization’s objectives.
  3. Involvement of people: People at all levels are the essence of an organization and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization’s benefit.
  4. Process approach: A desired result is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as a process.
  5. System approach to management: Identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives.
  6. Continual improvement: Continual improvement of the organization’s overall performance should be a permanent objective of the organization.
  7. Factual approach to decision making: Effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.
  8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationships: An organization and its suppliers are interdependent and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value.

The ISO was founded in 1947, and since then have published more than 19,000 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and business. From food safety to computers, and agriculture to healthcare. The result is that ISO International Standards impact all our lives. And these standards can also help police improve.

In 1946, delegates from 25 countries met at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London and decided to create a new international organization ‘to facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards’. In February 1947 the new organization, ISO, officially began operations. Since then, they have published international standards covering almost all aspects of technology and manufacturing — including how leaders ought to behave in those organizations. They have members from 163 countries and 3,368 technical bodies to take care of standard development. More than 150 people work full time for ISO’s Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

Find out more about ISO by visiting their website and/or downloading their PDF on “Quality Management Principles.”

And think about how these standards can help leverage better policing in your community.


Post Note: Since the publication of this blog I found that the Houston (TX) and Phoenix (AZ) Police Departments had implemented ISO 9001 in their property management department. A good start! To see the article in “Quality Digest,” CLICK HERE and HERE.

Also there is an article showing how the Suprise (AZ) Police Department implemented ISO 9001. CLICK HERE.

On the international scene, just this past month, the police in Abu Dhabi (UAE) received a certification in Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001), CLICK HERE.


  1. david, I don’t know how expensive it is to pursue an ISO 9000 certification but for under $20 one can buy your book and become familiar with the principles of quality management. Both you and I know they work. I will be discussing how they’ve worked for me at the IACP Annual Conference in Philadelphia in three weeks. The talk is titled ” Putting Quality Behind the Badge: combining the best or art with science- Quality Leadership and Leadership in Police Organizations.. The tenets of Quality Management /Leadership are universally applicable and timeless. It’s never too late.


    1. Right on, Mike! Yes, the book does give a strong introduction to the quality process and how to improve a police department. It will be interesting to hear the comments from you colleagues at the IACP meeting next month (I would like to be a “mouse in the corner” listening to the feedback after you make your presentation. Good luck and let’s keep pressing on!


      1. Gentlemen, my name is David Amari, and I am the instigator of implementing ISO 9001:2008 in Phoenix, Houston and Surprise. I am also the U.S. Delegate to an international team working on developing a set of guidelines that will be published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in a couple of months. The guidelines will be a first attempt to explain in police terms the specific requirements of the ISO 9001:2008 standard. If you’d like to learn more about it and the history of the work we have been doing in this area, just let me know.


  2. Dear Sirs, my name is Garry Boucher, I had circa 20 years experience as a Quality Manger in the private sector before joining a police force here in the UK. I have implemented 9001 in several forensic areas including Fingerprints, Crime Scene Investgation, DNA, CCTV, Collision Investigation, E-fit and others. We are now taking them all to the next level for accreditation to ISO 17025, starting with the DNA, Footwear and Fingerprint Development Laboratories. I had the pleasure of working alongside David Amari on the international working group developing 9001 for operational policing. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance.


    1. Thanks, Gary. One of my colleagues tells me that ISO 9001 is working on quality management standards for policing. This is encouraging (another ray of light?) and could have further impact on improving our police worldwide! Keep up the good work!


  3. Hi there, I read through a few of your articles here.
    I did have a question though that I hope you could answer.

    I was wondering, What are the most common problems in the life of a police officer?
    I’m trying to become a cop right now so I would like to
    know the challenges. I would really appreciate any help you could give me!


    1. Thanks for the question. The most common problems are emotional health and balancing your relationship life (especially if you have or about to have a family). Policing is a great career. You can have the opportunity to grow as a human person and help/protect those who are most vulnerable in our society. Now more than ever, we need good people to step up and serve!


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