One of the greatest responsibilities a country has is to provide a safe working environment for its law enforcement professionals. Every day, officers risk their lives keeping their communities safe from violence, gangs, drug trafficking, and a host of other criminal activities. Ensuring that these men and women come home each night to their families is a priority.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) website, more than 20,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty since the first line-of-duty death recorded by the organization in 1791. As of 2015, a total of 1,501 U.S. law enforcement officers had died in the line of duty during the previous 10 years, which is an average of one death every 58 hours. NLEOMF also reported that, during the same time period, on average, there were 58,930 assaults against law enforcement each year in the United States, resulting in 15,404 injuries.1 These statistics serve as a reminder that continued diligence in ensuring officer safety is critical.
“Safety doesn’t happen by accident.” That quote comes from an anonymous source, but it lends itself well to the concept of officer safety. Officer safety requires a concentrated, unified, and proactive approach so tragedies are avoided. It needs leadership, education and training, resources, information sharing, trust, and collaboration. Officer safety programs, such as VALOR, and safety gear solutions, such as the bulletproof vest program, are some of the components available to help ensure that officers remain safe.2 Event deconfliction is another element that should be in every law enforcement officer’s safety toolbox.