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.