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Officer Fatalities From Not Wearing a Seatbelt
Eliminate Senseless Deaths in 2016!
January 5, 2016
Officer fatalities related to not wearing seatbelts are unacceptable. Historically there are more officer deaths related to traffic accidents then to felonious assaults, and in the 2014 FBI LEOKA press release, 10 of the 28 officers killed in vehicle collisions were not wearing seatbelts.
Law enforcement deaths that occur from not wearing seatbelts can be eliminated when agencies and individuals take proactive steps to instill value and pride in a safe driving culture. An organizational culture that supports ongoing education, accountability, and personal responsibility is the means to success.
Education begins in the basic training academy. Recruits learn about the hazards of driving without a seatbelt, and are taught methods for quickly buckling and unbuckling a seatbelt during hands-on vehicle operations. Training should continue when their field training officers reinforce the use of seatbelts through modeling and demonstration, instilling the practical application of both judicial and speedy seatbelt use. These two training phases give peace officers the skills to safely use their seatbelts in a law enforcement setting.
Throughout an officer’s career, the continued use of a seatbelt should be reinforced through agency policy, supervisors, and coworkers. Appropriate sanctions for officers who fail to comply with policy are important. After all, a portion of discipline is far better than a career or life ending collision. Supervisors should have zero tolerance for themselves and the men and women in their care when it comes to not wearing a seatbelt. When a supervisor takes pride in safety, their officers will follow. Equally important are the “Courageous Conversations” fellow officers have with one another. As difficult as these conversations are, one of them could save a life.
The final decision to wear a seatbelt lies with the individual officer. Every officer must decide what they want to live for. Is not wearing a seatbelt worth giving up a life and destroying a family? The IACP video, "Is Today Your Day?; can help officers decide what’s important. Below 100 training can help too. No one can sit through a Below 100 workshop and not feel called to action. The training can help motivate an individual to take responsibility for the safety measures within their control and keep them alive.
Eliminate these senseless deaths in 2016, by promoting a culture of safety through education, reinforcement, and personal responsibility.
Wear your seatbelt, watch your speed, and practice SAFE driving!
The SAFE Driving Campaign is a POST initiative focused on reducing fatal and serious injury law enforcement traffic collisions nationwide. For further information regarding the SAFE Driving Campaign, visit the SAFE Driving Campaign on the POST Website or contact:
Janna Munk, POST Senior Consultant
Training Program Services Bureau