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Officer Safety: Every Shift, Every Day

By Colonel John Born, Superintendent, Ohio State Highway Patrol

The collective missions of protecting the public cannot be achieved without ensuring the safety of those who provide that service. Officer safety needs to be the highest priority every shift, every day.

To that end, as chair of the State and Provincial Police Directorate’s (S&P’s) Traffic/Officer Safety Subcommittee, the author is pleased to outline how the subcommittee is working to coordinate its efforts with those of the IACP Highway Safety Committee (HSC) to ensure that all officers make it home at the end of every shift.

The S&P’s Traffic/Officer Safety Subcommittee is focused on two areas: one inside the patrol vehicle, and the other outside the patrol vehicle. The officer safety issues within the vehicle include safely driving patrol vehicles; training officers in the operation of different patrol vehicles; and dealing with other safety issues while driving, such as the distractions caused by law enforcement equipment: activating emergency equipment, entering queries into the mobile data terminal (MDT), recording the location of a call for service or the description of a wanted person or vehicle, and talking on the police radio.

The second area of focus includes challenges such as deploying tire deflation devices, sobriety and other checkpoint operations, and traffic incident management.

Within these two focus areas, the S&P’s Traffic/Officer Safety Subcommittee is examining best practices, new technologies, training deliverables, and sustainable and easy-to-access resources and is striving, as well, to coordinate these with other IACP efforts, including those undertaken by the HSC and by the IACP Center for Officer Safety and Wellness. At each S&P midyear and annual meeting, the subcommittee plans to provide its membership with a deliverable such as a training aid or video, a safety poster or citation book insert, or a model policy. In concert with the HSC, deliverables will be placed on the IACP website and coordinated with other officer safety tools available to IACP member agencies. The subcommittee’s goal is to build a library of resources that can be updated or expanded, so it remains relevant and can be sustained beyond its members’ years of service.

The subcommittee’s first critical officer safety effort was the production of a 12-minute roll-call video on recommended guidelines for deploying tire deflation devices because they have been involved in 26 officer deaths since their inception in 1996.1 In fact, 5 officers died in 2011 in connection with the deployment of tire deflation devices, the most officers killed performing this task since 2003 when 5 officers also died.2 In collaboration with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol; the New York State Police; the Dayton, Ohio, Police Department; and the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Safe and Effective Deployment of Tire Deflation Devices During High Speed Pursuits debuted at the S&P’s midyear meeting and at the HSC’s agenda screening meeting, both of which were held in New Orleans in March 2013. The video is being distributed to S&P and HSC members.

If readers have suggestions as to topics the S&P’s Traffic/Officer Safety Subcommittee should consider, email Jeff Grayson, Special Projects Coordinator for Colonel Born, at ?


1Gregory R. McMahon, “Bulletin Alert: Deployment of Spike Strips,” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 81, no. 9 (September 2012): 18, (accessed March 7, 2013).

Please cite as

John Born, "Officer Safety: Every Shift, Every Day," Highway Safety Initiatives, The Police Chief 80 (July 2013): 70.



From The Police Chief, vol. 80, no. 7, July 2013. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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