FEATURED IN LEADERSHIP
The year 2012 is now behind us and it’s been a remarkable journey in many ways. This was the first full year for Law Officer’s Below 100 and those involved on the frontline feel like we’re hitting full stride. As one Facebook fan put it, “If you haven’t heard of Below 100, you’ve been living under a rock.”
Just in case you’ve been under that rock, the mission of Below 100 is to drive down line-of-duty deaths to less than 100 annually, a level not seen since 1944. Below 100 targets those areas most under an officer’s direct control, based on Gordon Graham’s principle that “predictable is preventable.” (For more info, visit www.Below100.com.)
At the time this was written, we were halfway through December but it looked quite possible that 2012 will end with the lowest annual LODD total seen in more than 50 years.
There have been a lot of complimentary efforts, and I’m not implying that Below 100 is solely responsible. However, everyone involved in Below 100 draws a great deal of encouragement from the progress made and we’ll be increasing our efforts throughout 2013. This will include more trainers, more presentations and updated materials.
Below 100 in 2012
As a result of some incredibly dedicated trainers who volunteer their time, more than two dozen Below 100 train-the-trainer sessions have been conducted around the country.
In addition, countless Below 100 informational presentations have taken place for groups ranging from 5–500, and several states are now integrating Below 100’s tenets into multiple levels of training. Hundreds of Below 100 posters—downloadable at www.Below100.com—are now hanging in briefing and locker rooms. Many agencies have updated relevant policies using samples provided by our great partners at Lexipol.
We’re rapidly reaching the tipping point of a long-needed cultural change in our profession. Specifically, we must come to embrace a common-sense use of safety equipment and a commitment to learn from every loss. Like a military force that’s taken new ground, we must not give back what we’ve fought so hard to gain. We must engage with a renewed commitment to the efforts that have gotten us this far.
What You Must Do
We owe it to the fallen to train the living. Courageous conversations are essential to this effort. If you really care, you will say something. For those who might be thinking that individuals can’t really make a difference, the following examples ought to change your mind.
• Frustrated by a friend who wouldn’t wear a seatbelt while on patrol, an officer put a pen and paper into the friend’s hand, telling him to write down what he wanted said to his family when he died in a crash. The former seatbelt “resistor” became a seatbelt advocate.
• After a supervisor learned the department’s CAD system could provide unit speed, he began talking to officers who seemed to “routinely” operate at too fast. Speeds declined significantly over time.
• A motor supervisor responsible for ordering new motorcycles opted for a governor that limits top speed to 120 mph. Initially, his subordinates protested but the discussion quickly ended with the realization that operating a two wheel vehicle on open roads was unacceptably dangerous at greater speeds.
• A manager overseeing the department’s CAD system directed the vendor to include a “splash screen” that would randomly display one of the five Below 100 tenets when the officer logged on.
• A rangemaster designed a department shoot that would begin with the officer driving onto the range wearing a seatbelt. A good deal of practice dispelled the myth that seatbelts caused tactical ineffectiveness.
There are officers alive today because they have made the choice to wear their seatbelts, wear their armor and drive at speeds reasonable for the circumstances. We have the absolute evidence in real lives saved to prove it. We must continue improving basic safety awareness so we can send more officers home to their families instead of to funeral homes.
The cost of inaction is dead police officers. If you know something is wrong, you have the responsibility to change it. Let’s make 2013 an even safer year than 2012. The time for change is now.