Saving the Lives of Cops

The passing of July 1, 2012, was a monumental achievement for law enforcement in this country. The reason: It was the 133rd day of the year and, since this is leap year, it was the point where half of the year was now behind us. We’re now into the second half of 2012 and the line-of-duty death toll stands at 49. This is the lowest we have seen in more than 50 years (tied with 1959). What’s more impressive is you have to go all the way back to 1943 to find a year with a lower total for the first six months of the year. Perhaps the most important point for everyone who wears a badge or cares about someone who does, we are well on our way to having one of the safest years on record.

So far, this has been about numbers. But let’s be very, very clear about something: This is not about just numbers. It’s about saving the lives of police officers. Every LODD represents a real person who committed themselves to a profession of service and subsequently paid with their life. The fact that the numbers are down is good and it’s very encouraging. But the true celebration isn’t about an arbitrary number, it’s about the men and women whose names will not be added to the Memorial wall and the funerals that won’t take place. It’s also about the kids who won’t have to grow up without their mom or dad.
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 must not give back what we have fought so hard to gain and we must engage with a renewed commitment to the efforts that have gotten us this far.
If you’re thinking this doesn’t really apply to you because you use your safety equipment and practice good tactics, you’re wrong! Don’t forget you signed on to serve and that includes those with whom you work! You must do more than just take care of yourself. You must have the courage to talk to those who routinely drive too fast, go without a seatbelt, don’t wear body armor or waive cover on calls where cover is just common sense. Tell these folks that their family and department need them and would miss them terribly. If they ignore you, keep trying and above all, set the very best example.
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. Choose to be one of those officers and have the courage to challenge others to do the same. If you really care, you will say something.
I reached out to some well-respected folks and asked them to share their thoughts about the progress we have made and where we’re headed. Here’s what they had to say:
“I never thought I’d see what I’ve observed the last six months in law enforcement. In fact, it’s safe to say that there is no law enforcement officer working today that has seen it (the dramatic decline in LODDs). That gives me both encouragement and trepidation. We cannot rest on the past and must focus every day on the tenets of Below 100 if we want to see this trend continue. This is the responsibility of everyone who wears a badge. It is not a time to celebrate but rather a time to work even harder for what we now know can make a difference.”
-Capt. Travis Yates of Tulsa, Okla., PD and President of ALERT International and
“Below 100 is changing our thinking, which is changing our behaviors and making possible drastic reduction of the needless loss of peace officer’s lives. We must continue this effort.”
-Dick Clark, Executive Director of Nevada POST, Past President IADLEST
“We are risk takers and that is what makes us different. But risk and response can be measured by experience and knowledge. Risk does not have to be met by uncontrolled response. So do great deeds, with caution and care. Live to tell your grandchildren of your service.”
-Jeff Chudwin, President of Illinois Tactical Officers Association
“C.O.P.S. supports the Below 100 campaign in its efforts to reduce line of duty deaths. If current trends continue, they will have achieved their goal this year. C.O.P.S. is the organization that hopes our membership never grows.”
-Madeline Neumann, National President of Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.)
“The choice is ours; if we want to get there, we need to be the change. Below 100 is absolutely achievable.”
-John Bostain, 2012 Law Officer/ILEETA Trainer of the Year
Finally, I’ll leave you with this: If you know something is wrong, you have the responsibility to change it. The cost of inaction will be dead police officers. We can drive down our line-of-duty deaths. We must do this. The time is now!
Please check out and learn how we can continue to drive down line-of-duty deaths across our profession.



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