August 16, 2017

Editor’s Introduction

by Richard W. Schwester, Ph.D.
Managing Editor

The newly launched Journal of Critical Incident Analysis (JCIA) is an initiative of the Academy for Critical Incident Analysis (ACIA) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. ACIA was founded for the purpose of promoting a scholarly dialogue relating to the emergence, management, and consequences of critical incidents. Accordingly, JCIA is an extension of this purpose, and it is envisioned as an outlet for empirical research and theoretical discussions about critical incidents.

In this inaugural issue of JCIA, we present three refereed articles and one invited monograph. In the first article, “A Conceptual Model for Critical Incident Analysis,” Kirby provides a framework for examining critical incidents. This framework identifies and examines the inter-connectedness of three elements endemic to all critical incidents: the event, political arena, and authorized interveners. The role of the media and the context of the incident are also discussed. It is through Kirby’s framework that we can begin to develop a shared understanding of the different players and competing forces within critical incidents.

In the second article, “Simulation of Intervention in Critical Incidents Using Agent Based Modeling,” Till demonstrates how computer simulations could be used to determine how people might react during a specific type of critical incident. The author discusses computer modeling in the context of a stadium bombing, a campus shooting, and the Titanic sinking. By modeling how people might react in a given crisis, interveners might discover better crisis intervention methods.

In the third article, “Critical Incidents, Invisible Populations, and Public Policy,” Colvin explores the invisibility of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and the consequences of this invisibility vis-a-vis policymakers and service providers. According to the author, communities that are invisible to policymakers and service providers are less likely to be included in the policy or planning process, and are more easily overlooked during crisis situations. 

Each summer, ACIA sponsors a case conference that focuses on a particular critical incident. In 2009, the ACIA community chose the Virginia Tech shooting. The conference took place on the campus of Virginia Tech, and the participants together examined the dynamics of the aftermaths of critical incidents, examining questions such as:

  • How do aftermath dynamics fit within the prevailing theories and concepts in critical incident analysis?
  • How do public and media narratives of incidents evolve during the aftermath?
  • Who are the stakeholders in aftermath dynamics?
  • Are there more constructive and more destructive dynamics?
  • Are there protective attributes of communities that mitigate risk and promote resilience following a critical incident?
  • Can aftermath dynamics be managed to mitigate trauma and promote healing?
  • Are there special issues for colleges and university incidents?
  • How is policy shaped during the aftermath of incidents?
  • What is the role of memorialization following an incident?
  • Are there understandings about aftermath dynamics that are fundamental to the field of critical incident analysis?

In the monograph presented in this issue of JCIA, “Virginia Tech After 4/16: Solidarity, Community, and Recovery,” Isaacs chronicles the events of this conference, presenting specific content from each of the conference panels.