After speaking at a Law Enforcement conference out of state several years ago, I was relaxing in the courtyard of the conference center when a police officer pulled up in their patrol unit. I watched as the officer gathered their gear including the Class “A” uniform and ballistic vest but it was odd that they pulled up not wearing a seatbelt. As the officer exited the car and approached, I commented about the body armor and asked was there something I needed to know about the agenda that evening.
The puzzled officer looked at me and said, “It is part of my uniform.”
I agreed with the officer but later that night, I wondered why an officer would wear body armor to a conference banquet because “it was part of the uniform” but neglect the one item that has been responsible for saving more lives of cops than all other safety devices combined….The Seatbelt.
Over the years I have researched law enforcement crashes and factors that led to the serious injury or death of the driver. On many occasions I have found the officers were ejected from the patrol unit and killed because they failed to wear the vehicle seatbelt.
I was told by a patrol supervisor recently that he observed a police officer implementing “Tactical Seatbelt Use.” When the supervisor observed the officer not wearing a seatbelt, the officer advised that he was trained to remove it once the vehicle was off of the main roads…hence “Tactical Seatbelt Use.”
Well, it’s neither tactical or use and frankly, bad training is getting too many cops killed.
John Maxwell has coined the term, “law of the picture,” meaning that “People do what people see.”
If trainers, senior officers and administrators do not wear their seatbelts, the line officers will not wear them either.
Wearing a seatbelt can drastically improve your survivability both on and off duty. Remember, not only are other police officers watching you, but so is the public. Before you place the patrol unit in “R for Race” and merge into traffic, make sure you are as prepared for the operation of the patrol unit. Wear your seatbelt as religiously as you wear your body armor and make it part of your uniform.
Until next time, keep the dirty side down and please be safe.