What’s the mission or goal of Below 100?
Reduce the line-of-duty deaths to less than 100 annually.
How far do we have to go to reach that goal?
The last time LODDs were below 100 was 1944. For the last 50 years, the average has been well over 150. The closest we have come in recent history was 2009 when the LODDs totaled 122 (a 50 year low). 2010 totaled 152 and, unfortunately, 2011 is on track to match or exceed 2010.
Where did the idea for Below 100 originate?
During the 2010 International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association conference, a group of Law Officer contributors were having a dinner and one of them, Travis Yates, made the comment that if officers would simply wear their seat belts, slow down and clear intersections, that the number of LODDs would drop significantly. Travis is passionate about officer safety in the area of driving (www.policedriving.com). His comment came across as something of a challenge to the other trainers at the table and an in-depth discussion followed that focused on the need to address areas that were most subject to actual change. In other words, target the “low-hanging fruit.”
What are the five points of Below 100?
- Wear your belt.
- Wear your vest.
- Watch your speed.
- WIN—What’s Important Now?
- Remember: Complacency Kills!
Doesn’t everyone already wear their seat belt? Isn’t that common sense?
It may seem like common sense, but it’s certainly not the rule. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted an in-depth review of more than 700 traffic accidents resulting in a police fatality. Seat belts weren’t worn in 42% of those crashes and there were another 8% that couldn’t be determined. Preliminary responses in a comprehensive study currently underway indicate that approximately 50% of officers don’t wear seat belts when on duty.
Those seat belt numbers seem high compared to the general public. What’s going on? What’s the reason?
The numbers are
high. Current seat belt wear among the general public exceeds 95% in many states. When it comes to officers not wearing their belt, there are three common answers:
- The belt gets hung up on my gear and in the way while on the job.
- I might be ambushed while sitting in my vehicle and unable to engage or escape.
- The law in my state exempts police officers from the seat belt requirement.
Those reasons make some sense considering the police car environment. What about that?
- Seat belt use and integrating it with your gear is a matter of practice and familiarity, just like other aspects of police work. With a little bit of practice, the action to release the belt and have it stay clear of duty gear is very simple and very quick. Consider this: Working a seat belt is relatively easy compared to mastering a Level 3 safety holster. And they’re both designed to save your life.
- As for the ambush concern, Below 100 trainers continue to ask for a single example of an officer who lost thier life because they were wearing their seat belt. We have yet to find a single example. However, there are several hundred known examples of officers who have lost their lives because they were not wearing their belts.
- The statutory law may exempt you, but you’re not exempt from the laws of physics. Seat belts work. If anyone should know that, police officers should.
Why is there an emphasis on driving?
Actually, only two of the five Below 100 tenets specifically address driving issues. However, there’s a good deal of safe driving emphasis in the Below 100 presentation. This is by design because this is an area where officers spend a great deal of their time and where they are most at risk for things that are primarily under their control. The reality is that LODDs have been disproportionately represented in traffic-related incidents. In most years, traffic deaths exceed LODDs caused by gunfire. And in some years, traffic deaths have exceeded the number of felonious homicides from all causes. Bottom line: It’s an area where we have the greatest opportunity to save lives because it’s the area that’s most susceptible to immediate change.
What about the second point—Wear your vest? I thought all officers had body armor nowadays.
Many departments do supply body armor and all agencies should
provide armor to their personnel. However, there are many agencies where armor isn’t provided. Either it’s considered to be too expensive or unnecessary. Both of these are bad reasons to go without armor. There’s federal money available to assist law enforcement agencies in the purchase of basic body armor and at least one program (www.vestsforlife.com) that helps individual officers receive body armor that’s been used and then donated to the program.
Many departments who issue body armor don’t require that it be worn. A cornerstone of the Below 100 program is that every uniformed officer should be wearing body armor. The wear of armor should be considered as natural and automatic as putting on a gun belt. For non-uniform wear, body armor should be encouraged, in those situations known to present risk, such as suspect contacts or arrest warrants, body armor should be required. Below 100 provides a sample policy, courtesy of Lexipol (www.lexipol.com), on body armor wear.
What is WIN?
The concept of WIN—What’s Important Now? is actually quite simple. The famous football coach, Lou Holtz, was the first one who used the WIN acronym when he admonished his players to constantly invoke the “What’s Important Now?” phrase as they made decisions both on the playing field and in life. Brian Willis, the president of Winning Mind Training, has written multiple books on the importance of WIN in law enforcement. As Brian frequently says, “WIN is Life’s Most Important Question.” By continual awareness and factoring of what’s most important, officers will find they develop a skill that allows them to quickly process and prioritize complex and dangerous situations. WIN is equally powerful in very simple or frequently performed situations. For instance, traffic stops are inherently dangerous and every cop should be acutely aware of occupant actions inside a stopped car. BUT, don’t forget the importance of your environment. The reality is that passing traffic may present a much greater hazard, especially on a busy highway. An officer familiar with WIN will have the proper mindset and awareness of all the hazards. Accordingly, a passenger-side approach might present the best option in many situations.
What’s Below 100 Train-the-Trainer?
The purpose of Below 100 Train-the-Trainer is to provide law enforcement trainers with an understanding of the Below 100 concept and the materials to present it to their region or agency. The sessions are four hours long and they’re free.
What takes place at Below 100 Train-the-Trainer?
Attendees are given an overview of the program, an actual Below 100 presentation by an experienced trainer and all materials needed to begin presenting Below 100 training. A three-ring binder with handouts and a flashdrive with the presentation and supporting videos are provided.
Is there a fee to attend?
There currently is no fee for attendees at Below 100 Train-the-Trainer events.
Why is there no fee?
Below 100 presentations are conducted at a hosted venue, like a police training facility, that wants to support the effort. Trainers donate their time to make the presentation. Travel costs
for the trainer(s) and materials costs arecovered by a sponsor. Sometimes, it’s necessary to find a local sponsor who’s willing to help with the program, but the costs are minimal considering the benefit and the intent is to make the
event free for trainers, not to make money.
Currently, the overall operation of the program is funded by DSM Dyneema. More information on this company can be found at www.dyneema.com.
If this is so important, is four hours enough time for Below 100 Train-the-Trainer?
The principles of Below 100 are straightforward and easy to grasp. Besides, cops are pretty quick on the uptake, especially when it involves officer safety.
Where can I buy Below 100 stuff?
Currently, only electronic files of Below 100 materials and flyers are available and you can print and distribute them as needed. There have been requests for Below 100 stickers and other items so we’re working with the Officer Down Memorial Page (www.odmp.org) to use their store for this ability. It’s not ready yet, so stay tuned for more on this one.
I think Below 100 sounds like a great program. But can this really happen on a national scale? What’s the plan to actually make this happen?
Below 100 is an effort that can work because it targets areas
that agencies have some degree of influence and control over. It costs little or nothing to actually implement the program. It really comes down to shifting the culture of American law enforcement. To do that, we don’t have to reach
everyone, we just need to develop momentum and get to the tipping point of change. To do this most effectively, we need to collectively focus efforts on five key areas.
- Academy Training. The concepts have to be presented early and as part of the foundation of basic officer safety. Officers need to understand that they have a personal stake in their own safety and that not all threats are from a bad guy.
- Field Training Officers. Probably the most important element in the overall Below 100 equation is the FTO. The FTO has the opportunity (and responsibility) to reinforce and model the Below 100 concepts. In most agencies, FTOs are both the role models and the change agents.
- Field Supervisors. Patrol sergeants and front line supervisors have the opportunity to recognize responsible behavior, address problems and provide and facilitate a culture of safety mindedness. Remember: It’s just as important to catch people doing things right. What gets recognized gets repeated!
- Command Staff. Obviously, there needs to be buy-in from the top or the training will never happen, but that’s only part of the command staff role. Depending on the agency, policy may need to be reworked so as to provide a clear expectation of performance consistent with Below 100 principles. If a department has a Below 100 Trainer, he or she should be valued for what they bring to the organization and their efforts noted in personnel evaluations. Once in place, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the command staff to hold people accountable when necessary. Remember: Ignored behavior is condoned!
- Awareness. This includes publication and web efforts (see Law Officer and LawOfficer.com, as well as Below100.com). It also includes visible reminders such as a Below 100 poster in the briefing and locker rooms, Below 100 stickers and periodic discussions during briefing. For instance, use news reports of officer crashes or vest saves as a key part of briefing. And make sure it doesn’t just come from the person conducting the briefing. Have officers bring in examples of things that could have been prevented. And establish a culture of looking for vulnerabilities that need to be improved. Remember: If it’s predictable, it’s preventable!
How can I find out about Below 100 training opportunities?
Check Below100.com. We are identifying more areas around the country for train-the-trainer training and we are posting the regular Below 100 presentations as we become aware of their availability.
How do I connect or network with other Below 100 trainers. Is there a Below 100 community?
Check out the Below 100 group on Law Officer Connect. Once there, you can discuss Below-100-related issues, ideas, events, etc. with other Below 100 trainers.
The administration at my department is very concerned about our budget right now. Maybe a little too concerned. How do I present the concept of Below 100 from an angle that makes sense from a cost-saving perspective?
Below 100 focuses on risk mitigation and any risk manager will tell you that if you lower risks, you’ll save money—a lot of money. Consider this: A Rand study considering the value of equipping all officers with body armor concluded that the value of each officer saved is approximately $6 million. And since Below 100 concentrates on areas that are most preventable, that means that we can actually make change happen. Finally, consider this: We know the number of line-of-duty deaths that occur each year because of the high-profile nature of each occurrence. However, there’s not a similar accounting of officers seriously injured and/or forced out of police work as a result of injuries that could have been prevented. These injuries are very, very costly—to agencies and to the individuals. The value of a program like Below 100 won’t be lost on administrators who deal with budgets.
I’m thinking about become a Below 100 trainer. How long does it take to present the program to my agency?
Allow for an hour to fully present the program. Depending on identified areas of concern, you may want to allow a little extra time to address a particular area and allow for Q&A. For instance, if a review of agency practice and policy results in new policy, this may be a good time to distribute the new policy and discuss the resulting changes. Or, if an agency identifies a particular area of needed improvement (e.g. range safety practices) that needs extra attention, time should be allowed for this to be fully addressed.
What if I want a Below 100 effort to come to my area?
If you would like to host a Below 100 Train-the-Trainer session, here’s what we need.
- A hosted venue capable of seating at least 30 people.
- A willingness to help find a sponsor to cover the basic costs. Although there’s no fee for Below 100, the travel costs for the presenter(s) and the materials cost have to be covered. Travel costs will vary depending on location. Material costs will be approximately $15 per attendee.
- A completed Below 100 sign-up list (Excel template can be found and downloaded on www.Below100.com), that you submit back to us so that we know the approximate number of attendees.
If you think you have the above and there is a sufficient level of interest in your area, please contact us and we’ll do our best to work with you.
If I’m a Below 100 trainer, can I charge admission to sessions? Can I make money with Below 100?
There’s no expectation that trainers go broke in order to present Below 100 so recovering actual costs for materials is certainly acceptable. Everyone is encouraged to look for opportunities to keep those costs down such as working with a city print shop for handouts or asking the planning department to use their large format printer to make a poster. Please note: Below 100 isn’t to be used as a for-profit training presentation. Trainers shouldn’t be charging for the event and participation as a Below 100 trainer is voluntary. (On-duty presentation of Below 100 material is perfectly acceptable—subject to department approval—and using duty time to attend Below 100 presentations is certainly encouraged if permitted.)
Why should a department engage with Below 100?
It’s the right thing to do. Department leaders who have engaged with Below 100 have reported improvement in the desired areas and a noted level of employee appreciation for the effort. Bottom line: Below 100 is about officer safety.
What about policy to support the Below 100 concepts?
Most agencies should take a look at their existing policy to see if they are practical and clearly understood. Policies should be able to work in real situations. Other departments may not have any policy currently in effect or may be in major need of policy change. As a way to help in this area, the Below 100 program provides sample policies that address the areas of seatbelt use, body armor wear and driving. These policies were provided exclusively to the Below 100 program by the firm of Lexipol, a strategic partner in the Below 100 effort. Lexipol helps departments across the country with policies covering all aspects of police department operation. More information can be found at www.lexipol.com.
Why 100, why not zero?
Candidly, this is police work and there will always be losses. It’s the nature of what we do. However, despite being an ambitious goal, Below 100 is achievable. It’an easy number to remember and it has the added benefit of being a subliminal reminder to keep emergency speeds under 100 mph. A disproportionate number of really bad things happen with greater frequency at speeds above 100 mph.
What happens if we make it to less than 100? Is the program over?
Nope. We continue to evaluate areas where gains can be made. And then we start Below 50
What about ambush killings? Haven’t there been a lot of those? Shouldn’t Below 100 target those also?
Below 100 is specifically designed to address those areas that are most directly under an officer’s control. Although ambush killings have occurred more frequently over recent years, they comprise a small percentage of the overall LODD total and are very difficult to actually prevent. Certainly to the degree that an officer can increase awareness or prepare, these actions can appropriately be included under the Below 100 tenets of WIN—What’s Important Now? and Remember: Complacency Kills!
Are there articles that I can review that help me understand how all this comes together?
Yes. The best way to get started is to take a look at the features that ran in the October 2010 issue of Law Officer when the program was officially rolled out.