Police Driving International (PDI) was formed in 2009 but the mission and focus of PDI comes from very humble beginnings.
In 2002, Travis Yates, a Sergeant with the Tulsa Police Department and supervisor with the Tulsa Police Precision Driving Unit, had just completed an exhaustive research project to revamp the training program with his agency. Several issues troubled him, including the lack of information in the area of emergency vehicle operations (EVOC); the lack of training in the area of EVOC and the high number of senseless deaths to law enforcement due to driving related incidents. From those thoughts, PoliceDriving.com was developed and became the first site of it’s kind on the internet.
2002: The domain, Policedriving.com, was purchased in December, with the website going live early in 2003. The orginal concept was to share training information with other instructors.
2003: Travis recognized the need for an online presence to discuss the issue but with very little knowledge of website development there were some definite early struggles. The first server was based out of Instanbul and he quickly figured out that because it was just $5 per month was not necessarily a good thing. The first website was also not the most impressive. You can view it’s appearance here. Despite the early struggles to learn site development and the “tricks” of web publishing, the information was flowing and hundreds of e-mails came in to the website. They came from officers, supervisors, chief’s and mothers and fathers of children that had been innocent victims from a suspect in a police pursuit. As technology and knowledge increased, the website evolved. Here is the second development of the site. This development was in place for several years until January 1, 2011. On that date, the site transitioned with a content manager, making it much easier and quicker to make applicable updates. That design you see today is a progression from that 2011 update.
2004: In an effort to promote officer safety, Sergeant Yates wrote an article titled “Law Enforcement Pursuits: Managing The Risks“. The article was originally published on PoliceDriving.com but was later submitted to PoliceOne.com. It was published on April 7, 2004 and would become the first of numerous articles written by Travis for several periodicals. Sergeant Yates was promoted to the rank of Captain and began to manage all EVOC activity with his agency.
2005: Travis continued to write about EVOC and was hired as the monthly columnist for PoliceOne.com in a new category titled: Police Driving: Safety Behind The Wheel. Police One became the first major law enforcement publication to dedicate a monthly article on the issue of EVOC. Today, all have followed their lead. In July, Travis was featured in an article on CNN called “How Police Chases Really Work.” His appearance in that article would be one of over 100 interviews and mentions in various media outlets in the years to come. On August 9, 2005, Travis was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the Advanced Drivers of America Inc. The first recipient of the award.
2006: The issue of law enforcement deaths related to vehicles became more widely known within law enforcement and as it did, PoliceDriving.com became one of the most visited websites on the issue in the world.
The first of what would be many public appearances by Travis on the issue police vehicle dangers took place on January 22, 2006. Travis was asked to speak at a rally held at Kiener Plaza in downtown Saint Louis. The rally was sponsored by the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Missouri chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors. It was designed to support Officer Matt Browning and bring focus on the issue of drunk driving and the dangers to law enforcement on the roadways of America. Travis spent just one day in St. Louis but the relationships remained and he realized that there was a need to not only “write” about the issue but personally speak about it and meet others affected by it. You can read the text of that first speech here.
On December 15, 2006, Travis graduated from the 227th session of the FBI National Academy.
On December 27, 2006, The National Law Enforcement Memorial discussed the issue of driving and line of duty deaths, citing a 16% increase in fatalities in 2006. The press release intiated by Craig Floyd, the Chairman of NLEOMF, would begin a long term relationship with PoliceDriving.com, Captain Yates and the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund.
2007: Travis attended the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association National Conference in Chicago. This conference and relationships formed would shape the direction of PDI for years to come. Travis was asked and agreed to write a series of articles for Law Officer Magazine. The series focused on tactical driving tips. Travis spoke at the Florida High Liability Conference in Jacksonville and at the Police Driver Training Seminar hosted by the Peel Regional Police Service (Canada).
2008: Travis was named the 2008 International Law Officer Trainer of the Year at the 2008 ILEETA Conference. He continued his speaking engagements with trips to Green Bay, Chicago, New York and Nebraska. Travis partnered with Line of Duty Films to produce two training films on EVOC Issues. Those films are available here and here.
2009: Travis was asked to join an effort by the State of California to reduce law enforcement deaths as they relate to vehicle incidents. The Safe Driving Campaign continues to meet and has become a massive effort on a national scale. You can see details of this ongoing work here and review the first report that cites this website here. In April, Travis was asked to meet with the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund in an effort to help them fulfill their mission to prevent law enforcement deaths. He went on to co-chair a committee on the issue.
2010: Travis continued to train & speak across the world on the issue of police vehicle incidents and police pursuits. He travelled to the Philippine National Police Department and the Peel Regional Police Department(Canada) and was once again a featured presenter at the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association (ILEETA). While at ILEETA, Travis sat across a dinner table with peer trainers and offered up a concept that later became known as Below 100. On July 16, 2010, Dale Stockton (Law Officer Magazine) announced the Below 100 Campaign. An effort to reduce American law Enforcement Deaths to below 100 per year. Travis participated in this introductory article.
2011: Travis has agreed to a smaller speaking schedule which includes the Philippines, Chicago, Wisconsin and Canada. He has been asked to participate in two book projects with details to follow.
On September 26, 2011, Travis became the 10th President of ALERT International at the National Conference in Baltimore. He has dedicated the next two years to taking that organization to a higher level and making an immediate impact on law enforcement deaths and injuries through the efforts of ALERT.
2012: In the first full year following Travis’ work on the Below 100 Campaign, line of duty deaths hit a 50 year low with 124. Travis spoke in approximately 12 cities throughout the year. The ALERT National Conference was held in Knoxville (TN) with attendance & membership doubling from the previous year. ALERT held regional conferences in Ohio, Nevada and Wisconsin. Partnerships were formed with ODMP and Below 100.
2013: ALERT International continued it’s growth under the leadership of Travis Yates. The organization took full advantage of technology to help in that growth including revamped websites, social marketing and mobile apps so instructors can communicate on the go. The annual conference was held in Austin (TX) and featured Gordon Graham. It was a record attendance of instructors across the world. As he promised two years earlier, Travis resigned as President of ALERT and turned the organization over to a new Board of Directors. His efforts increased with Below 100 as he formed regional representatives and an advisor board to handle the dramatic increase in Below 100 program requests. Travis continued as the monthly EVOC Columnist for Police One. Line of Duty Deaths in 2013 hit a 70 year low with 105.
2014: With twenty years of law enforcement service and 17 years of teaching experience, Travis launched SAFETAC Training which focuses on reducing line of duty deaths and injuries by a series of 8 Hour Seminars. He continues as the Past President of ALERT International & Founding Member of Below 100. In June, Travis was promoted to the rank of Major. He became the Director of Training with SAFETAC Training & taught in several states including Wisconsin, Texas, South Dakota, Ohio & Toronto, Canada. Travis launched a huge book project in the last quarter of the year which coincides with his newest course, Couargeous Leadership. Police One featured Travis on the 10th Anniversary of his Writing Columns on Vehicle Safety.
2015: After a decade with PoliceOne, Travis resigned and became an Editor with Law Officer Magazine. SAFETAC Training continued to grow with training in a dozen states. His “Drive To Survive” Seminar marked it’s tenth year and became the longest running driving seminar in the country. Travis was featured in USA Today and ABC Nightline discussing the dangers of police pursuits.
2016: Travis was named the Editor In Chief for Law Officer Magazine and as his duties increased with SAFETAC Training, he resigned his position with Below 100, an organization that he co-founded in 2010.
2017: With the increasing popularity of SAFETAC Training, Travis made the decision to tackle law enforcement leadership or the lack thereof. The Courageous Leadership Seminar was launched just a year earlier but the demand became so great and mission too important that more had to be done. Travis formed the Courageous Leadership Institute which was designed to bring the most elite law enforcement leadership trainers together in order to make a lasting impact on the profession.
2018: With the demand for his training at an all time high, Travis developed one of the most important officer survival courses in the industry. Called “Seconds4Survival,” it didn’t take long before it became apparent that the course was special. It quickly became the most requested course with SAFETAC Training and in an effort to spread the message far and wide, Travis developed a Train the Trainer course. It would become the first SAFETAC Course to be a Trainer Course.