5 Things To Improve Squad Car Safety

November 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you are a firefighter, your work vehicle has been especially designed for the work that you do. The same is true for paramedic trucks, military vehicles, shipping companies and just about every other profession out there. Police officers are the exception to that rule.

A standard police vehicle with a ‘police package’ has a more durable suspension and brakes than versions of those cars at the car dealership selling those models. Further, lots of police-specific equipment is added.

A typical agency can — and will — add just about any aftermarket equipment available from hundreds of different manufacturers. The vehicle tests — including crash data — were all done without this added equipment, and thus don’t truly reflect the patrol vehicle’s safety as it actually exists out there on the road. We need to remedy this.

Hard Truths
Other than Ford, Chevy, or Dodge, it is safe to say that the final product that two different departments place on the street will never be the exact same. Carbon Motors attempted to manufacture a car just for law enforcement — and had they been successful, many of our concerns may have been solved — but ultimately the high cost of production and department budgets left a good idea on paper.

Economics indeed is a priority and it will always be cheaper to take an existing civilian car, add a few features and sell to law enforcement. I’m confident none of this will change,so it’s time our profession adjusts our behavior so we are placing the safest vehicle we can in the hands of our heroes.

We all have a similar story: My friend has $30,000 of new teeth thanks to a radar device mounted with Velcro. It could have been worse and I fear it has been worse. I was contacted several years ago from the wife of an officer. Her husband had suffered a traumatic brain injury due to police equipment in a car. He could no longer work or function by himself. His wife was left with questions and unfortunately I had no answers.

Our profession has done a terrible job regarding car interior safety. We’ve suffered injuries — and likely deaths — because of this and we don’t discuss it. Maybe we don’t have the discussion because we don’t see viable alternatives but it has to start somewhere.

To begin the discussion I reached out to Lt. David “Doc” Halliday — who supervised Michigan State Police vehicle testing for more than two decades — prior to retiring recently after 36 years of service. Halliday clearly understands this as a huge issue and emphatically told me that “anytime we add anything to the car you decrease the safety of the vehicle.”

Here are six ways we can immediately make the interior of our police cars safer.

1. Limit Equipment: This will definitely not be a popular step but if we truly want a safer vehicle, the issue becomes what is absolutely necessary inside the vehicle. Even a radio microphone could potentially be unsafe but we absolutely need that inside the car. If something is inside your car and you haven’t used it in six months then get it out. We need to get back to what is necessary to do our job.

2. “What If” the Inside the Car: On a daily basis, we should look at the contents of our car and think what would happen in a collision. How will that metal ticket book feel hitting me at 60 mph? Could it cause serious injury or death at collision speeds?

If the answer is yes, we need to secure it — and do so using a hard mount when needed. Equipment no doubt will need to be placed inside police vehicles but when it does, Velcro is the enemy and mounting with hardware is a necessity.

3. If You Cannot Secure, Then Relocate Loose Items: If the item isn’t critical and timely, it should go where it can’t hurt you…in the trunk.

4. Wear a Seatbelt: Unfortunately we can’t assume this is being done in our profession. With studies suggesting that half of our officers in fatality crashes were not wearing a seatbelt, we need to also understand that the seatbelt is designed to keep you in the seat and the way to keep mounted equipment away from you in a crash is to stay in your seat. A seatbelt is the only way to ensure this.

5. Integrate Equipment: We need to work on integrating our equipment into our car versus mounting the equipment. Havis has been leading the way on this and their computer screen configurations are being tested in agencies across the country.

Cost has no doubt been an issue on why we haven’t done this sooner but it is time for costs to take a back seat to safety.

Getting the Conversation Started
The United States Military and the National Football League are two organizations that have studied the effects of Brain Trauma and it is time that law enforcement does the same. Currently, we have no idea of how many officers are affected and what caused the injury. To improve safety we have to know this information and it has to start now. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Let’s make it happen and together we can work towards a safer profession.

Courtesy:  Police One

Original Article:  http://www.policeone.com/vehicle-incidents/articles/7706244-5-things-to-improve-squad-car-safety/


About the author

Major Travis Yates is a Commander with the Tulsa (OK) Police Department. His Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training and the Director of Ten-Four Ministries, dedicated to providing practical and spiritual support to the law enforcement community.

How 6 ‘rules’ from a Navy legend can impact officer safety

April 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Several years ago, I discovered Admiral Hyman G. Rickover and his views on safety and training. While he was not in law enforcement, there is no doubt that his philosophy can make everyone in our profession safer.

Admiral Rickover — known as the Father of Nuclear Navy — spent 63 years in the United States Navy and served under 13 presidents. Take a minute to let those numbers sink in.

Admiral Rickover is associated with myriad historical events — all of which merit discussion and contemplation — but today I’d like to examine what have become known as Rickover’s Rules. It was these rules that contributed to his very successful safety record.

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So You Want To Skid?

January 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

You want to skid? You want to have a little fun?

Well, forget it. It’s over. The ESC technology in all new cars and light trucks has made skid control as we

knew it, over and done with. Skidding was abused so badly, and with so little skill as a global driving

culture, that we screwed ourselves out of whatever fun there was to be had from sliding sideways.

Billions of dollars in physical damage and loss of life was caused.

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Tire Deflation Devices: Risk vs. Reward

December 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The first tragic event I remember with tire deflation devices (TDD) was on September 11, 2005. Arkansas State Trooper Mark Carthron successfully deployed the devices during a vehicle pursuit, but when he went to retrieve them from the roadway he was struck by another trooper in the pursuit. While it was the first event that I knew about, there had been ten deaths previous to Trooper Carthron, dating back to 1996.

These tragedies and others were on my mind when I was able to find funding to deploy these units at my own agency. I remember telling an instructor that I had tasked with the implementation of the program, “We must train, train and train some more.”

He did a fine job training hundreds of officers, and I knew they had been given all the tools and training to succeed, but a little voice in my head had me concerned.

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Addressing The “Cobra Effect”

December 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Have you ever seen your department attempt to solve a problem but the effort to do so actually worsened it?

This is known as the Cobra Effect, and it originated in colonial India when the British Government offered a reward for every dead Cobra in an effort to reduce the number of those deadly snakes.

While successful at first, Indians began to breed them for profit and when this was realized, the rewards were cancelled. Without a profit, breeders released the snakes and what was intended as a solution became more of a problem.

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5 Top Safe Driving Tips

December 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

No. 1—Speed
Driving at a “normal” speed is dangerous enough for law enforcement. Granted, we often drive fast in our profession, but the risk must always be weighed against the potential gain of higher speed. 

The danger level increases dramatically as the speedometer needle rises. Be aware of your total environment (road conditions, traffic conditions, weather conditions, etc.) before you decide to press that gas pedal a little harder.
You’re stuck with the speed at which you enter a turn or negotiate a corner, so slow down in advance of changes in direction to maintain your position on the roadway. Entering at the proper speed and position, and then gradually accelerating out of the curve will ensure that you continue to your destination. After all, you can’t help if you don’t get there.

No. 2—Intersections
When running code and coming up to an intersection, you must stop and clear that intersection lane by lane (in both directions) before continuing through. Your red and blue lights and siren don’t give you carte blanche to blow through an intersection, and you can be held civilly liable if you do.

No. 3—Distractions
We have a lot of technology mounted inside our patrol vehicles these days. All this technology will distract the best of us. Use them wisely and at the appropriate times. If you’re running code, for any reason, I hope your cell phone is in your pocket or your bag. When you’re getting messages over your MDC, take a second to read just a portion of the message. Check traffic and when it’s safe to do so, take another second or two to read another portion of the message. That message on the computer screen will remain there, but you might not if you’ve been looking at the screen too long.

No. 4—Seatbelts
Most states have seatbelt laws. Most agencies—but not all—also have seatbelt policies when driving a law enforcement vehicle. Whether your agency does or does not, you should always wear your seatbelt. Many severe injuries, or worse, could have been prevented by just clicking your belt on.

There are those out there of the mindset that it’s a tactical decision to not wear a seatbelt. With all the training that we do, why not train to tactically remove your seatbelt? You’ll know when circumstances warrant removing your belt. There are simply no reasons not to wear it. If you can work a retention holster, you can work a seatbelt.

No. 5—On-Duty Mindset
This goes for just about anything we do in law enforcement. “When/then”- and “what if”-type thinking and mental rehearsals will better prepare you for the real thing. Everyone must remain in an “on-duty mindset” while working. Be aware of your surroundings and environment. Be alert to the actions and reactions of vehicles ahead of you and around you. Be vigilant when making a roadside contact or face-to-face encounter. Always keep your head on a swivel to be aware of passing traffic while on a traffic stop. Be prepared! The Boy Scouts said it first, but it applies to police work just as well.

Bottom line: The ultimate achievement in our profession is winning and surviving. Do your loved ones a favor and make it home at the end of your shift.
Mike Allen started the YOUTH (Younger Officer Unified Training Habits) Program in 2008 to reduce vehicle-related deaths in law enforcement.

Special Thanks to www.lawofficer.com

The Silent Blue Line: The Ultimate Tragedy

November 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

On July 24, 2012, Colorado Springs Motorcycle Officer Matt Tyner was killed while in a pursuit of another motorcycle. Today we know much more about the incident. Officer Tyner was on patrol about 1430 hours when he spotted a black sport-style motorcycle. Witnesses stated that the motorcycle was racing and weaving in and out of traffic and that Matt turned on his lights and began to pursue.

Through video surveillance, police determined that the suspect was travelling more than 120 miles per hour and Officer Tyner was going more than 100 mph. At an intersection, a 72-year-old driver tried to make a left turn in front of the officer. Matt’s motorcycle struck the truck and he died.

Media reports from the area state that all pursuits are limited to speeds not to exceed 25 miles per hour over the speed limit. The speed limit at the time of this tragedy was 45 miles per hour.

Knowing More Troubles Some
Should we discuss these details and if we do what if it shows that Officer Tyner made some mistakes that may have cost him his life?

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10 deadly errors cops make on the roadways

September 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Original Article Courtesy Police One:   http://www.policeone.com/Officer-Safety/articles/5992691-10-deadly-errors-cops-make-on-the-roadways/

Roadway deaths have been the leading on-duty killer to law enforcement for more than a decade so it is time we add a new list of 10 errors in the minds of today’s warriors

In 1973 and 1974, we lost an unbelievable 548 officers in the line of duty — 278 of those succumbed to felonious gunfire. It was this context and the fact that 51 of those line of duty deaths occurred in California that led to a groundbreaking book by Los Angeles Police Detective Pierce R. Brooks in 1975.

The book, Officer Down Code 3, was written by Brooks through a deep belief that many of the line of duty deaths could be prevented.

Related Feature:

Police driving: An important reminder about our behaviors

The unfortunate fact remains that many of our heroes in uniform are dying because of their actions behind the wheel.

In 1975, Calibre Press did not exist — Charles Remsberg had not yet written his famous Street Survival textbooks, and the concept of Officer Survival Training was non-existent so to say that Pierce Brooks was before his time is an understatement.

Applying Brooks’ Method Today
Well, 37 years later, it’s doubtful you will find a copy of Officer Down Code 3 at your agency, but every cop out there has seen and heard the remnants of Brooks’ work.

Don’t get “Tombstone Courage” your FTO told you but he heard it from someone else who heard it from another who had read it in Brooks’ book.  That saying was part of Brooks’ famous Identification of the “10 Deadly Errors” that he observed was killing officers and, at the time he wrote them, at a record rate.

Whether it was “Failure to Watch Hands” or “Poor Search” or “Improper or No Handcuffing,” the errors listed by Brooks found their way in the lingo of every officer and on posters that hang today.

The original work one LAPD Detective (often mentioned by Sergeant Joe Friday — Dragnet — in the opening monologue as the Lieutenant on duty) conducted close to 40 years ago remains valid today and we should continue to follow each and every rule listed but if we stop there, we are making a grave mistake.

It’s a different time in our profession than it was in 1975 and while violence continues to plague our profession, an often invisible enemy awaits to take the lives of America’s Finest.

Roadway deaths have been the leading on duty killer to law enforcement for more than a decade and in July we were once again reminded at how devastating this enemy is when we lost 11 officers in that month alone to this epidemic.

It is time we add a new list of ten errors in the minds of today’s warriors…

1.) Failure to Wear Seatbelt
It’s listed first because it is the easiest to correct. Close to half of every officer killed behind the wheel were not wearing a seatbelt. The excuses are many but the tragedy this mistake causes is unspeakable.

2.) Speed Kills
We warn our kids of this danger but it applies to our profession as well. The difference between 80 mph and 100 mph over ten miles is a mere 90 seconds. Excessive speed is a tremendous risk and unfortunately a week rarely goes by where we don’t hear of another line of duty death involving an officer at high speeds in a single vehicle crash.

3.) Multitasking
In 1975, you may have seen a hand held radio and a notepad in a police car. Today, the inside looks like a spaceship. We have always required officers to multi-task but they now face an increasing danger as laptops and cameras replace pens and notepads. There is a time and place for it in our profession but any additional duties behind the wheel besides driving should be done with extreme caution.

4.) Tunnel Vision
We have long known the dangers of tunnel vision in deadly force encounters as stress will often cause the loss of peripheral vision but we must be just as concerned behind the wheel. When the lights and siren go on, we often encounter tunnel vision and that combined with driving can be deadly. When you hear your siren, don’t trust your peripheral vision but turn your head and look.

5.) Fatigue
Brooks identified this in his list and it must remain here. We may never know to the extent that fatigue plays in roadway tragedy in our profession but evidence suggests that fatigue continues to be a factor in our safety both on the road and off.

6.) Failure to Clear Intersections
The most dangerous time during a shift is proceeding through intersections. The failure to clear each lane, whether in normal driving or emergency response, can be devastating. It’s not the intersection that will kill you…it’s the side impact collision.

7.) Failure to Wear Reflective Vest
It’s mandated on a federally funded highway but should be worn whenever we step foot out of our vehicle and into traffic.

8.) Improper Tire Maintenance
The only piece of vehicle equipment between you and the road is indeed the most important. A tire with cuts, poor tread or that is under or over inflated can be deadly.

9.) Improper Use of Tire Deflation Devices
The tool consists of a string and sharp objects and the training is often conducted with a short video with little or no practical experience. That combined with high speed vehicles contributes to deaths in our profession every year. An officer should never be standing at or near the roadway when deploying but unfortunately the nature of the activity leads all too often with officers placing themselves in harms way. If you cannot deploy these devices away from the roadway while using cover/concealment (and a police car doesn’t count) then they should not be used.

10.) Tombstone Courage
This term was originally made famous by Pierce Brooks but it also applies to roadways. We drive everyday and most days nothing out of the ordinary happens behind the wheel. It is only natural to get overconfident behind the wheel which will lead to Tombstone Courage. As Brooks described over three decades ago, this behavior will send you to the grave.

Nothing can take the place of the work of Pierce R. Brooks and every law enforcement officer working today owes a great deal of gratitude to this man. The list above is just a small contribution to an effort by many to reduce line of duty deaths. To be fair, this was not completely my idea.

I have the privilege to be involved in an effort from the State of California called the SAFE Campaign. While at a meeting last year, the work of Brooks came up in discussion and I and others immediately saw value in addressing roadways in a similar fashion. On behalf of that effort, I hope these ten reminders will contribute to your everyday safety practices. 

About the author

Captain Travis Yates  is a nationally recognized police driving instructor and has been in law enforcement since 1993. He has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern State University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the owner of www.policedriving.com, a website dedicated to law enforcement driving issues and the Director of Ten-Four Ministries, dedicated to providing practical and spiritual support to the law enforcement community.  He  is a lead trainer with Below 100 and Lifeline Training.  If you are interested in a Seminar by Travis, you may contact Lifeline Training at Lisa@lifelinetraining.com.

Police Driving: An Important Reminder

August 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Courtesy:  Police One
Original Link:  http://www.policeone.com/vehicle-incidents/articles/5908104-Police-driving-An-important-reminder-about-our-behaviors/

I have often said that I am so very grateful for the opportunity that I get to put my thoughts on paper and that someone actually reads those thoughts. I have literally met and communicated with thousands of law enforcement professionals through an opportunity that for some reason was offered to me. I understand, too, that there is a great responsibility with this opportunity.

That responsibility has often turned my thoughts into doubts and my doubts into guilt as I see line of duty deaths occur. Like many of you, I follow those deaths closely and I take each and every one of them personally.

• Did I do enough?
• Have I said the right things?
• What can I do to prevent them in the future?

The Month of July 2012
These and countless other thoughts come and go, and last month my worst fears came true as I saw 11 law enforcement officers die from roadway incidents. In the same period, two officers succumbed to gunfire — and I am not diminishing those tragedies.

A 13-year trend of roadway incidents being the leading cause of LODDs was stopped in 2011 but it certainly appears that this trend has made a comeback in 2012. Not only was last month tragic but so far in 2012 there have been ten more officers killed involving vehicles than firearms.

What can be done? The only thing I know to do is to remind others what we must do to prevent this trend from continuing. I have covered much of what I will conclude with in the previous years I’ve had the privilege to write for PoliceOne, but in light of what last month showed us, it bears a reminder.

Leaders Must Lead
I recently spoke to an EVOC Supervisor on the west coast and he was full of frustration.

“Travis, I just don’t understand why this isn’t a priority,” he exclaimed.

I’ve heard it for years and each year that passes makes it even more unbelievable. It is simply hard to believe that with the information we have today on LODDs that the leaders in our profession are not taking the necessary measures to make the job of their officers safer. It is as if they believe death is a part of doing business and that is an atrocious attitude.

Training works in regards to changing attitudes and behavior and without a doubt there are leaders right now making a decision to not train their officers in Emergency Vehicle Operations and I have a message for them…

Your actions are significantly impacting the safety of those that trust you to lead them into battle. If you have not encountered tragedy beyond comprehension then get ready…it’s coming…and the blame should lie squarely on you.

Not every chief or sheriff can be expected to do what Chief Duane Hampton has done. Hampton is the Hillsborough (N.C.) Police Chief and over the course of a year, I have personally seen him at two training events and he is working to obtain his EVO Instructor Certification. While Hampton is clearly different than most, his actions on this issue should tell others that they can do something about it.

Our Behavior Matters
We can’t stop at placing blame on those that lead us. The unfortunate fact remains that many of our heroes in uniform are dying because of their actions behind the wheel. It is clear that we will never eliminate every roadway related LODD but an honest assessment tells us that many can be prevented if we, as professionals, address how we are contributing to what has been the leading cause of LODDs for over a decade.

Speed — The very mention of telling cops to slow down brings a not so fun stream of e-mails that I wouldn’t want my mother to read but regardless we all know that too often, we drive well over the speed limit for no other reason than we can. We often make ourselves think the reason is valid but if we are truly honest about it, we rarely make any difference by driving at high speeds.

Should cops drive fast?

Of course there is a time this has to be done. There is a real reason why we have lights and siren but we must all recognize that high speeds bring an increased danger and with that danger there must be a reward. Approximately half of the officers that die in a vehicle do so in single vehicle collisions. While all of them have given the ultimate sacrifice and are no doubt true heroes, was the destination they were going worth dying for? Let us not get mad at the question but honest about the answer.

Seatbelts — If I told you that if our profession embraced one concept that was free of charge and took seconds a day that we would save the lives of countless officers a year, you would want to hear that concept.

Every cop I talk to knows this concept but we continue to see tragedy from the failure to wear seatbelts. While NHTSA stats show that 42 percent of officers since 2000 were killed behind the wheel were not wearing seatbelts, I have heard reports of that number being much higher in anonymous surveys in various departments. Whether it is fear of the ambush or a lack of comfort, we have heard all of the excuses and at the end of the year we continue to see what those excuses add up to…senseless tragedy.

Every department has a policy to wear seatbelts but what is the culture in that agency? Does the supervisor turn a blind eye? Does the FTO tell the rookie to not wear what that rookie has been told since he was born to wear? As trainers are we combating the myths associated with not wearing seatbelts? If you are reading this, it’s not too late and for the honor of those before us, let us embrace this concept now.

Intersections — We all know the famous saying by our friend J.D. Buck Savage of “Watch the Hands,“ but what if I told you that in law enforcement today there is something that has proven just as dangerous?

Intersections are clearly an enemy in waiting and as a profession we must take the four lanes of traffic just as serious as the hands of our suspect. The top priority in approaching any intersection is clearing that intersection and this priority must begin immediately.

I work graveyard and I see officers doing a great job of walking up on cars and “watching those hands” but I see a lesser emphasis on slowing and clearing those intersections lane by lane. There is no room for mistake here, and sadly, our profession has suffered the consequences.

What Next?
The Month of July 2012 is over and I’m glad. Thirteen heroes in uniform died. Some did everything they could to prevent what ultimately took their life and sadly some made a mistake and they paid a price that no one should have to pay.

The decision can be made right now to never repeat a July 2012.

The question is: will you make that decision?


Captain Travis Yates commands the Precision Driver Training Unit with the Tulsa, Okla. Police Department. He is a nationally recognized driving instructor and a certified instructor in tire deflation devices and the pursuit intervention technique. Capt. Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern State University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the owner of www.policedriving.com, a website dedicated to law enforcement driving issues and the Director of Ten-Four Ministries, dedicated to providing practical and spiritual support to the law enforcement community. You may contact Travis at Policedriving@yahoo.com.

2012 Line of Duty Deaths: What Does It Mean?

July 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

As I write this, we have officially entered the last half of 2012.  There has been plenty of tragedy but there is a pattern that has clearly emerged and that is over a 50% drop in line of duty deaths (LODD) from the same time last year.

We are currently in our 5th straight month of single digit deaths and to give you a perspective of how rare that is, it took us 3 previous years to match 5 months of single digit LODD and it has been since 1943 we had 5 months straight of single digit LODD.    Indeed, it has been much more likely that we see 15+ officers die in a month than what we have seen so far in 2012.  The old saying that “every 53 hours we lose an officer” has been true……until now.

What does that mean and can we attribute the sudden drop in LODD to something? 

To be clear, I am hesitant to attribute this to anything.  A former chief I worked for once said that if you take credit for something you better be ready to take the blame right around the corner and that is sound advice so I won’t take credit for anything but I will tell you what I believe has contributed to what we are currently seeing.  The sudden pattern simply cannot be ignored.

There are a lot of efforts out there but this reduction has happened so dramatically, it makes sense to point out what recently has come about that may be affecting it.

1.  Last year the DOJ mandated those agencies that get funding for ballistic vests to initiate policies that the wearing of those vests be mandatory.  My agency did that very thing as well as most others I knew.  There is no doubt in my mind that more officers are alive today because of these policies.  As I write, gunfire deaths are down 53%.

2.  The Below 100 Campaign took off like wild fire in 2012.  Go to www.below100.com and look at the map of the areas that received training and multiply that by 100 fold because there are officers in each of those sessions that went back to their departments and states and promoted the training.  We may never know how much of an impact this campaign is making because success means nothing happens but if we were honest, we would acknowledge that this training is unique and could have been just what was needed to “shake” the profession.  The campaign is heavily influenced by safe driving decisions.  As I write this, vehicle related deaths are down 40%.

3.  Jesus Christ.   My faith tells me that nothing happens without the Sovereign God of the Universe being involved.  We are to praise God in the bad and in the good.  Of course this may seem out of place to some but I am strongly convicted that it needs to be said.  I have seen more prayer and emphasis on the issue of law enforcement safety now more than ever.  Many do not know this but the Below 100 Campaign itself is an outreach of a Christian Ministry, www.tenfourministries.org.  As I write this, overall LODD are down 52%.  The Sovereignty of God can be a confusing issue.  If you are interested in hearing a study on the issue, I spoke on it about a year ago.  You can listen here.

In closing, it is no time to celebrate.  We have lost 49 heroes in 2012 and the extreme dangers remain but the LODD total should be an encouragement to ramp up training even more as we move towards the end of the year.

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