How Below 100 is lowering preventable police LODDs

The trainers who deliver the Below 100 message to agencies across the country are working hard to ensure fewer families have to make that life-changing trip to National Police Week in DC

While law enforcement officers must diligently train to counter high-profile scenarios such as ambush attacks, we all can do more to prepare for the other — arguably, more mundane — deadly threats against our officers. Below 100 is a common-sense officer safety program that targets areas under an officer’s control.

Below 100 is a coordinated, concerted effort to keep law enforcement line-of-duty deaths to fewer than 100 in a year — not since 1943 has that number been fewer than 100. For the last 50 years, the average has been in excess of 150.

Below 100 trainers seek to permanently eliminate preventable line of duty deaths and injuries through innovative training and awareness campaigns. Let’s take this opportunity to briefly review the Below 100 program. 

Preventing the Preventable
Since meeting with and interviewing Below 100 Chairman Dennis Valone at ILEETA this year, we at Police1 have begun to better integrate the five tenets of Below 100 into our writing to help increase police officer safety. 

When our officers die of heart attack, or are shot and killed because it was “too hot that day for body armor” or they’re in a deadly single-vehicle crash because they were needlessly driving too fast, or they are ejected from their vehicle because they weren’t wearing their seatbelt, police trainers like Below 100 architect Dale Stockton get angry knowing that too many of these tragic deaths could have been prevented if those officers had followed the five tenets of Below 100: 

•    Wear your belt
•    Wear your vest
•    Watch your speed
•    Remember WIN — “What’s important now?”
    Remember that complacency kills

If you’re thinking that the Below 100 tenets are basic common sense, you’re absolutely right. Every year we lose officers in absolutely preventable situations, making a horrible situation all the more painful. For those who experience the loss of a loved one, even one LODD is too many. The trainers who deliver the Below 100 message to agencies across the country are working hard to ensure fewer families have to suffer the loss of an officer.

“That’s what Below 100 is all about — honoring the fallen by training the living,” Stockton said.

While ambush attacks are a very clear and present danger to police officers across this country, other preventable threats take far more of our officers than high-profile events like the murder of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos back in December.

According to ODMP, we’ve lost 16 officers to vehicle crashes, and another 11 to heart attacks in just the first half of this year. Those numbers are unacceptable. We can prevent deaths like that more easily than we probably care to admit, by training our officers in tactics and techniques that help them stay safe from those threats addressed in the Below 100 Program. 

Below 100: An Achievable Goal
I was first exposed to the concept of Below 100 when I attended the Train the Trainer session at ILEETA 2012. At first, I was skeptical that getting line of duty deaths below that number, but after having taken the course, I wrote enthusiastically that this laudable goal is not only achievable, the secret to it happening is locked in the program’s simplicity. 

Can officers eat healthy and take better care of their bodies? Can officers wear their body armor to protect them from ballistic threats? Can officers slow down en route to calls at which there is nothing but a report to be taken? Can they wear their seatbelts? Can officers keep complacency at bay and increase their mindfulness about what they’re doing in the moment? In so doing, can officers keep asking and answering the question ‘What’s important now?’ 

Yes, to all of those. 

Below 100 is not “high-speed, low-drag, chock-full-of-drama” training. It is sober and simple. It is about decisions. Wearing your vest is a decision. Wearing your belt is a decision. Watching your speed is a decision. Asking “What’s important now?” is a decision. Being vigilant and not complacent — a decision!

“Below 100 is going to Lakewood next week because the chief and the department think it’s important for officers in that area to hear this important message,” Stockton said. “If you truly care about officer safety and you know anyone within driving range of Lakewood, please encourage them to consider attending this training.”

Check out the upcoming schedule for other Below 100 seminars taking place throughout the country.

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