With the dawn of the New Year, Law Officer reached out to some core Below 100 trainers for input on New Year resolutions that will save lives. Here’s what they had to say:
Take responsibility for your own ongoing training and stop whining about the fact your department won’t send you to classes. If you think that a particular training course is important to your survival, get off your butt, take some vacation and go to the class yourself. If you can’t go to a course, train informally on or off shift with other like-minded officers. I’ve never seen an agency that can afford to send an officer to all the training they should have. Agencies don’t bleed or die. Officers do. Your skills are ultimately up to you to hone.
—Lt. Eric Dickinson, Vinton, Iowa
Supervisors, make a commitment to hold those you supervise accountable for their safety and well-being. Every shift you need to encourage your officers to follow the 5 simple tenets of Below 100. Don’t be afraid to have a Below 100 courageous conversation with officers above and below you. You owe it to them and their families.
—Lt. Dennis Valone, Alpharetta, Georgia
Head off complacency in your troops before it sets in. Hold them accountable and encourage readiness by doing weekly inspections of vehicles and equipment. A well-maintained officer is a ready officer. Check the condition and function on weapons systems and their body armor. While inspecting patrol vehicles, ensure you check for an operational seatbelt.
—Lt. Craig Gripentrog, Williamson County, Texas
Make commitments for 2014, not resolutions. People are too used to giving up on resolutions by the end of January. In 2014, make the commitment to make every day a training day. Commit a minimum of 10 minutes a day to study and train. Study the law, anatomy, physiology, psychology and sociology. Study the latest research from Force Science Institute. Hone your skills and tactics. Train your mind through imagery. 10 minutes a day, 4 days a week, 48 weeks of the year equates to 32 hours of additional training a year. For 2014, commit to making every day a training day.
—Brian Willis, CEO, Winning Mind Training, Calgary, Canada
Watch Your Speed—It isn’t always about driving. Exercise caution and approach each situation by taking time to analyze the scene. Don’t run to your death.
—Sgt. Rod Rifredi, Davis, California
We lost 14 officers in 2013 to heart attacks—all ranks and assignments. That’s twice the number lost in ambush shootings. Over the last 10 years, nearly 140 officers have died as a result of heart attacks. Four officers under the age of 33 died in 2013. Commit to getting your heart checked this year and every year. Know the risk factors for a heart attack, assess your risk and take steps to prevent it.
—Mike Jaeger, Arizona POST
What’s Important Now (WIN) should be a rally point for our every thought in 2014. It’s time to make you (yes, you!) a priority. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to successfully take care of others. Take the Protector’s Oath today and commit to you!
—Major Travis Yates, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Make 2014 the year that you commit to quit. Quit complaining about your circumstances, your bosses, and your coworkers. You alone are in control of your attitude. And, make this the year that you define your legacy. If you can’t find the leader in you, nobody else can either.
—Sgt. Roy Bethge, Buffalo Grove, Illinois
It’s time to stop saying, “This is the way we have always done things.” That’s the culture of law enforcement of the past. Make it your business to infect your circle of influence with a new way of doing things. Nothing should be off limits. Engage with physical fitness, range training, driving habits, equipment maintenance and mental preparation. Are we prepared to explain, “This is just what we do” to the children of our fallen brother or sister? Below 100 works but will it be a flash in the pan or the way of the future? That is up to you!
—Tommy Loftis, LE Coordinator & PIO, Southern District of Alabama
Reflective vests can save lives. Understand the need to be seen in certain situations and the impact of darkness, weather and even emergency lighting. Make sure people can see you. Wear your reflective vest! Make sure it’s readily available and, unless you really need to be in stealth mode, use it!
—Below 100 Director, Dale Stockton
If you’re really serious about making changes for 2014, here are some tips to make it happen:
1) Be specific. For instance, don’t just say, “I will lose weight.” Instead, try something like this: “I will get to work 30 minutes early and work out before shift. I will eliminate the French fries and Big Macs from my diet.”
2) Alter your pattern of behavior. For instance, if that Big Mac tempts you because it’s an easy stop on the way home, then start taking a different route. Change it up and embrace a new, healthier environment.
3) Write down your commitment and then share it with at least two people. Empower them to both encourage you and remind you of your commitment. Want to take this to the next level of effectiveness? Write a note to yourself outlining your plan with some encouraging words and ask your commitment confidants to drop it in the mail to you in about 30–45 days—the time when most people’s good intentions start to fade. And add a high-tech twist to this: Send yourself automated future-date emails that contain some “hold-accountable” language.
4) Keep a journal of your progress. You will find that a little success generates new motivation to try even harder. And share that progress with those same commitment confidants. The sharing continues to anchor in the behavior.
If you’re really serious about officer safety, you’ll get involved with Below 100. The life you save may be your own! More information at www.Below100.com.