Last year around this time there was a great deal of attention given to line-of-duty police deaths spurred by a notable increase during 2010 and early 2011. Newspapers carried stories about the dramatic spike in officer fatalities, and on March 22, 2011, even the U.S. attorney general weighed in, saying, “Our law enforcement officers put themselves in harm’s way every day to ensure the safety and security of the American people in cities and communities across the country—and we need to do everything we can to protect them.”
So where are the headlines today? However tragic and notable the events of 2010 and early 2011, we’re currently experiencing an equally remarkable—and much more desirable—downward trend. In fact, around this same time last year and 2010, we’re seeing a 53% and 43% decrease, respectively. This is phenomenal and something that shouldn’t pass unnoticed.
What Gets Recognized, Gets Repeated
I want to draw attention (and encourage others to do the same) to the remarkable progress being made in driving down line-of-duty deaths. We’re now a little more than 20% of the way through 2012 and if this trend continues, we’ll see the lowest line-of-duty death toll in decades. And if we improve just a little more, we could even see a number that comes in at less than 100—a number not seen since 1944.
I know there are those who believe officers might get complacent or bad guys might become empowered after learning about the decrease in LODDs. To those who might take that position, I say, “Bollocks!” I like this British expression because it’s a civilized (and print-acceptable) way of saying that this reasoning is a load of crap.
I believe we’re rapidly reaching the tipping point of a long-needed revolution in our profession. Specifically: A culture change that embraces common sense use of safety equipment and a commitment to learn and improve from every loss. Like a military force that has taken new ground, we should ensure that we don’t give back an inch. We must defend this progress with a renewed commitment to the efforts that have gotten us this far.
Below 100: Simple & Effective
One of those efforts is the national campaign Below 100 (www.Below100.com), with its five simple, yet effective, tenets:
Having courageous conversations with coworkers is never easy but it’s a piece of cake compared to an officer death notification. You’ll forever feel the guilt of what you should have said. Here are some tips to help you reinforce the basic tenets of Below 100.
Cops love to claim they’re proactive—and that’s what is needed. Let’s take the initiative now while we’ve gained the ground. Let’s improve and expand on the efforts already being made. Below 100—the time is now!