Craig T. Steckler, Chief of Police (Retired), Fremont, California, Police Department
s president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police I want to express my deep sadness over the tragic events in Boston, their devastating impact on innocent victims, the attack on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police Officer Richard Donahue and the killing of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Officer Sean Collier. I know that the members of the IACP join with me in offering our thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families, and all those affected by this unspeakable crime.
At the same time, I am incredibly proud of the profession that the IACP represents. As we all know, every day there are violent crimes committed that trouble us deeply. And, during or just after each one of those incidents, America’s law enforcement officers willingly put their lives on the line each and every day to protect those they serve.
As President Obama noted following the arrest of the second suspect, “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all our outstanding law enforcement professionals. These men and women get up every day, they put on that uniform; they risk their lives to keep us safe—and as this week showed, they don’t always know what to expect.”
The incidents that occurred in Boston, in Texas in April, and in cities and towns throughout the country and the world each day, are clear reminders of the dangers that law enforcement officers face on a daily basis. That is why the IACP is committed to ensuring that the men and women of law enforcement have the tools, training, resources, and expertise they need to protect their communities and themselves.
It is for these reasons that the IACP established the Center for Officer Safety and Wellness (the Center), with a vision to ensure safe and well officers, thereby ensuring secure and thriving communities. The Center takes a proactive approach to safety and wellness by providing guidance on preventing harmful situations and creating a healthy lifestyle. Through strong engagement with the IACP membership, the Center identifies the most pressing wellness issues and safety challenges facing officers.
Recently, the IACP Center for Officer Safety and Wellness launched a new web page at www.theiacp.org/officersafety. As you will see from the web page, the Center is taking a lifecycle approach to safety and wellness, providing information and resources specifically tailored to each of the four stages: recruitment, early career, advanced career, and retirement. As an officer moves through these stages their needs will change. IACP is ensuring officers have the exact support they require by creating tools customized to each stage of their careers. This website will continue to be enhanced in the coming months as the Center continues to evolve.
Of course, like much of the work at IACP, the success of this effort depends on the active participation of our membership. IACP will call upon its members to provide recommendations, best practices, and first-hand experience to share with the law enforcement community. We will solicit the best information, tools, and resources and bring them to members’ attention. The Center will also routinely survey members’ priorities related to protecting their officers and will work to fulfill their most pressing safety and wellness needs.
As police leaders, it is imperative that we continually evaluate and develop techniques that will protect our officers when they are confronted by someone who will not hesitate to injure or kill them.
We must adopt a cultural shift toward the opinion that injuries are preventable. Safety must become a priority and agencies must become familiar with the importance of supervising for safety. It must become a fundamental belief that, although we have limited control over the dangerous situations an officer may face in the line of duty, we can control the outcomes through comprehensive planning, preparation, policy development, and enforcement.
We owe this to those who put their lives on the line every day for the freedoms we cherish. ♦
Please cite as:
Craig T. Steckler, "Boston and the Importance of Officer Safety," President’s Message, The Police Chief 80 (May 2013): 6.