With 73 days left in 2011, I felt an urgency that we must continue to be vigilant against the threats against us and just because we were on pace to have the highest number of line of duty deaths since 2006 did not mean that it had to happen. I heard from many of you that felt the same way and as I write this with 59 days left I sense a profound “push” from our profession to do everything possible to reduce line of duty deaths.
Of course every law enforcement officer wants to prevent line of duty deaths and every year we see a lot of talk about that but as I mentioned in the last article, we know everyone’s heart by their actions and the action must continue.
The first action must be a belief. The belief that we will reduce line of duty deaths to record lows. There have been just two years in the last century that our line of duty deaths did not reach 100 and the last year that occurred was 66 years ago. While I know every officer wants to limit our deaths, I continue to hear officers tell me they do not think it will happen. “That sure is bold” was what one supervisor told me recently and I sometimes see the look in the faces of those in an audience that almost have a disbelief that we can do this. My own father, a retired Captain, even told me it wasn’t possible.
We must believe.
This is about our attitude and we must believe it. The first three months of 2011 was horrific for our profession. We lost 52 officers and 20 of those came in the Month of March. We began the Below 100 Train the Trainer Courses in April at the ILEETA Conference and it certainly seemed like we were trying to accomplish the impossible. After all we were on pace to have 208 deaths this year and as of 59 days left in 2011, we are on pace to match the 2010 deaths at 160. While that is not acceptable, please consider that there have been tremendous gains made. In April, the pace was 208 and just two weeks ago, our pace was 165 and we have seen glimpses of actually accomplishing Below 100.
We lost 7 officers last month and 10 in September. Those were the two lowest months of 2011 and you have to go back to 2007 to see back to back months that low. Are you closer to believing?
If we maintained the pace of the last two months for 12 months, we would lose 102 officers in a year and if we lost 7 in one month, can we not fight hard to do that every month and actually be Below 100!
We must believe.
According to our friends and supporters of Below 100, The Officer Down Memorial Page, we lose an officer in the line of duty every 49 hours but as recent as 2001, we went 20 days without a LODD. In October, we went 7 days twice. This can be done and it begins with controlling what we can control.
That is what Below 100 is about. What can we do now to reduce line of duty deaths and those actions do not require days of training. It does require an attitude change and that starts with belief.
We must believe.
That belief begins now. It goes from call to call; from shift to shift; from week to week and month to month.
It is only then that we will see dramatic reductions in the tragedies that have become so common in our profession. Those tragedies do not have to be common. With belief follows action.
We must believe…..