Archive for the ‘Officer safety’ Category

To chase or not to chase

June 30, 2018

This article provides a balanced discussion of police pursuit policies and practices. According to a 2015 analysis, chases account for over 300 deaths per year in the U.S., nearly half being bystanders or passengers. Many agencies have adopted stricter guidelines, limiting pursuits except in serious violent crime cases and putting decisions in the hands of supervisors. But other agencies continue to pursue and give officers discretion, not wanting offenders to believe that it’s easy to escape.



June 11, 2018

This article describes the Adopt-a-Cop program in Brookhaven, Georgia in which officers can sign up to be paired with a local Catholic family that prays for their safety. The sergeant who implemented the program wasn’t sure that many officers would be interested, but it has become popular and some have established strong relationships with their “adopted” families. Nationally (and internationally) there are 70 chapters of the program first started in Michigan in 1998.

Podcast on officer health, stress, suicide

May 18, 2018

The latest COPS Office podcast, on the topic “Officer health, stress, and suicide,” is available here. It features well-known expert Dr. John Violanti discussing the effects of cumulative trauma exposure along with the newer phenomenon of constantly being recorded, both of which can lead to depression, which often goes untreated.

Focusing on system failures

May 18, 2018

This law review article promotes a systems approach to errors in policing, in order to put the highest priority on preventing future errors. The author acknowledges that individual officers must still be held accountable for their behavior, just as doctors and pilots can be disciplined or sued for making egregious mistakes. But “it is impossible to cure limitations of human perception, cognition, and decisionmaking. Instead of focusing exclusively on training people to change their behavior — and threatening them with criminal, civil, or department sanctions if they fail to do so — the systems approach adjusts equipment, schedules, protocols, and policies in ways that can make it harder for people to err and can reduce the impact of error when it inevitably occurs.”

Stress, anger, burnout, depression

April 26, 2018

This column reports a study of 1,400 officers in 3 Texas police agencies that found “more experiences with organizational stress were related to higher rates of depression, higher anger and burnout.” Similar to previous studies, officers reported more stress from within-organization experiences than from police work itself. The study recommended giving officers more opportunities to report and discuss stress reactions, as well as more attention to officer fatigue, which can magnify stress and impair decision making.

Podcast: LEO near-miss reporting

April 23, 2018

The COPS Office has released a new 23-minute podcast that explains the near-miss reporting system administered by the Police Foundation. The aim of the system, similar to ones used in aviation and other sectors, is to document and share near misses — incidents that almost went wrong but didn’t — to help law enforcement officers and agencies learn from them to improve future safety and performance. The COPS Office also provides a variety of other podcasts available here.

Making it safer

March 28, 2018

The COPS Office has released a new report that analyzes over 1,000 police officer fatalities from 2010 to 2016, available here. The report identifies types of calls and self-initiated activity associated with officer deaths, along with circumstances such as the number of officers and types of weapons involved in fatal incidents. Officer safety recommendations are also included. Tragically, in 30% of cases officers were not wearing body armor, and seatbelts were not fastened in almost 50% of traffic deaths.

Flint PD — broken department in a broken city

March 15, 2018

Netflix is currently airing a gritty 8-part documentary “Flint Town” that captures violence and desperation in a failing city, produced by film makers who were embedded with the police department for 20 months. The PD is badly understaffed, overwhelmed, and frustrated. As one officer wrote, “How can citizens in Flint trust the police to protect them when they can’t even trust their government to provide them with clean water?” The film’s trailer is here. An 8-minute scene from the documentary is here. A column about the film and the city is available here.

Pulse and Parkland active shooter responses

March 9, 2018

This article compares the first few minutes of police response in the recent Parkland school mass shooting to the Pulse nightclub mass shooting that occurred in 2016, also in Florida. The circumstances differ and many details of both incidents are still not public, but in each case the officers first on the scene chose not to immediately enter the buildings. In the Pulse nightclub case the first officer, who did fire on the subject from outside before taking cover, was declared a hero, whereas in the Parkland case the first deputy was quickly labeled a coward.

Denver saves $4 million per year with in-house physical therapy

March 7, 2018

This article reports success in Denver from adding a physical therapist on staff. Total savings from worker comp claims in the police, sheriff, and fire departments have been $8 million in 2 years. The therapist sees about 150 employees per month.