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WCSO gives Below 100 training to save lives

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office is taking part in the national Below 100 campaign in an effort to reduce the number of law enforcement Line Of Duty Deaths (LODD) in the country.

More than 50 members of Sheriff Charlie Creel’s staff have already taken the Below 100 training. The campaign initiative was created in 2010 during the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association conference as a challenge to make officer safety a target for positive change.

The last year Line of Duty Deaths was Below 100 nationally was 1944 with 99 deaths. During the last 50 years the average has been well over 150 deaths and the last decade has seen more than 160 on average. In 2010 and 2011, 174 line of duty deaths were recorded each year.
With the Below 100 campaign taking hold in 2012, there was a 50 year low of LODD with 120. In 2013, it appeared that the campaign would reach its goal. But a particularly deadly month of December saw the total LODD reach 111.

Lt. Jimmy Sessor has been teaching the Below 100 course at the WCSO and he noted that in 2014 eight law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Of the total of eight deaths, five were motor vehicle related, two were a result of gunfire and one was by strangulation.

Law enforcement officers are more likely to die in motor vehicle crashes than they are other causes so the emphasis of the program focuses on law enforcement officers always wearing their seatbelt, always wearing the protective body armor and keeping speeds in agency vehicles down.

Lt. Sessor stressed the importance of deputies always using their agency issued safety equipment while working. The safety equipment includes not only the bullet proof vest but reflective vests and raingear for times when deputies are standing in the road.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration review of more than 700 traffic crashes that resulted in a police fatality revealed that seat belts weren’t worn in 42 percent of the crashes and in approximately eight percent of crashes it was undetermined. Preliminary responses to a comprehensive study indicated that approximately 50 percent of officers don’t wear seat belts when on duty.
Lt. Sessor asked law enforcement officers to integrate the use of seat belts with their safety gear as a matter of practice and familiarity.

The lieutenant asked deputies not to become complacent because complacency kills. Always be prepared to handle the unexpected even when dealing with a familiar member of the community, he said. “We always want you to go home to your family after your shift,” said Sessor. “We don’t ever want to tell your family members and children that you won’t be coming home.”

The WCSO monitors the speeds of deputies on patrol through modern technology. Once a deputy exceeds a preset speed by the sheriff the deputy’s vehicle will generate a report and the vehicle also issues an alert to the driver. The report of the deputy’s actions is sent to the road patrol captain and undersheriff who review the use of speed to determine if it is justified.
Undersheriff Trey Morrison said the agency has found the reports to be an effective way to cut down on unnecessary speeding. Many law enforcement deaths were recorded when the officers were driving at a high rate of speed and in many cases were not required to drive at the high speed.

Studies have determined that high speed operation of a motor vehicle results in a disproportionate number of serious consequences on the road and in many cases the impact is serious to the deputy operating the vehicle, another motorist, bicyclists or pedestrians.

Two things that Lt. Sessor reminded the WCSO staff taking his course: “When speed goes up, survival goes down and reckless arrival does not equal survival.”

 

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