California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 12

HONORING THE FALLEN BY TRAINING THE LIVING By Dale Stockton “We deal with tragedy all the time and when so much of it can be prevented, why wouldn’t we engage in a program that would reduce the risk to ourselves and the community? For that reason, Below 100 is the program that we need to implement today.” —Chief John Carli, Vacaville PD. Below 100 is a common-sense approach to officer safety that has now been underway for over six years. Although the training has been delivered in most states, there are still many law enforcement professionals who are either unfamiliar with the program or have misconceptions about what the program stands for. Why Is It Called Below 100? And why isn’t the goal zero? The sobering answer is that this isn’t realistic. Those who wear a badge stand in the gap between good and evil, a responsibility that can be both dangerous and deadly. When a goal is obviously unobtainable, such as “zero death, zero injury,” it serves no purpose and is often dismissed outright. Over the last twenty years, losses due to vehicle-related incidents have accounted for approximately 25% more deaths than gunfire. Data from an extensive National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) review show half of fatal police crashes are single-vehicle crashes. Primary collision factor: speed. Just as troubling: roughly half of officers 12 California Police Chief | choose not to wear seatbelts while on duty. When it comes to speed, single- vehicle crashes and not wearing a seatbelt, it is extremely difficult to blame the bad guy. Below 100 has five very straightforward tenets: 1. Wear your seatbelt. 2. Wear your vest. 3. Watch your speed. 4. WIN: What’s Important Now? 5. Remember: Complacency Kills! Seems simple, right? Yes, but simple to understand does not mean easy to make happen. Below 100 has proven successful at changing attitudes and has been recognized as the most successful training program in law enforcement history. Over sixty-thousand officers have been trained and NHTSA is now providing funding for some classes and outreach. Is Below 100 Working? The California Highway Patrol has taught Below 100 agency wide for over four years and LAPD is beginning their department wide training soon. One example of Below 100 effectiveness is the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office. The department’s leaders knew they had a speed problem and had experienced an average of one at-fault crash per month over a period of ten years. Several deputies had been seriously injured and two were forced into early retirement. The crashes had cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and untold suffering. After engaging with Below 100, the department went more than 30 months with zero at-fault crashes. The agency received the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Fund 2015 Traffic Safety Award for its outstanding accomplishment. Are Seatbelts, Speed and Body Armor Wear Really a Problem? Based on extensive research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), work done by California Peace Officers Standards and Training, documentation by FBI Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) studies and countless queries conducted by Below 100 trainers, we know that seatbelt use by officers is approximately fifty percent. Since 1980, well over 150 officers have been ejected from their vehicles and died. Seatbelts work but only when they’re used. Speed is very often the primary collision factor in police crashes and half of fatal crashes are single vehicle, meaning the officer was primarily responsible. There are times high