JUSTNET Blog

Officer Safety Is Enhanced by Daily Practices

May 25, 2017

PhotoAs I think back to when I started my law enforcement career in 1987, I am reminded that officer safety is a daily practice. Body armor had only been a standard issue piece of police equipment for about a decade i. Thankfully, more and more agencies are implementing mandatory wear policies for body armor. A recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum showed that 92% of officers said that they are required to wear their body armor, compared to only 59% from the same survey that was conducted in 2009. ii

Unfortunately, the same officers that wear their body armor every day don’t necessarily wear their seat belts. Up until 2016, traffic-related fatalities were the leading cause of police officer deaths for the last 20 years. iii Although each state has a mandatory seat belt law for citizens, many have an exception for first responders. iv According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 42% of Law enforcement officers killed in crashes over the past thirty years were not wearing seat belts. v   

Here at JTIC, we deal with technologies that benefit law enforcement, corrections and courts agencies. Body-worn cameras and UASs are newer technologies, but let’s not forget about two old school technologies: body armor and seat belts. Seat belts have been around for longer than body armor, vi yet we haven’t seen an increase in seatbelt use and subsequent decline in officer deaths like we have for body armor. vii

Please remember that technology is there to help you do your job better and safer. Encourage your fellow officers to always wear their body armor and to always buckle up. So to mirror JTIC Director Lance Miller’s National Police Week blog from last year, “To all the men and women in law enforcement, thank you. And stay safe. Wear your armor every day.” And please wear your seatbelt.

Ben Bolton
Outreach & Technical Services Coordinator, JTIC


i National Institute of Justice. NIJ Selection and Application Guide-0101.06. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, 2015. Print.

ii U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. (2009). The BJA/PERF Body Armor National Survey: Protecting the Nation's Law Enforcement Officers: Phase II Final Report to BJA. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Dept. of Justice.

iii Latest Memorial Fund Fatalities Report. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, n.d. Web. 18 May 2017. <http://www.nleomf.org/facts/research-bulletins/>.

iv Summary of Vehicle Occupant Protection Laws: Current as of January 1 .. (2011). Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

v Ibid

vi The History of Seat Belt Development. (2013, February 22). Retrieved May 18, 2017, from http://www.autosafety.org/history-seat-belt-development.

vii Professional Risktakers…and Role Models. (2011, June). Building Safe Communities, 15, 4.