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Officer Safety and Wellness (OSW) Group Meeting Summary, September 20, 2012: Creating a Culture of Safety and Leadership

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2014
34 pages
This is a summary of the issues addressed by the Officer Safety and Wellness (OSW) Group at its meeting on September 20, 2012, which focused on creating a culture of safety and leadership in a law enforcement agency.
This fifth meeting of the OSW Group discussed how leadership can create a culture of safety and what that culture means. The meeting accepted Jane Arden's definition of "culture of safety" as "an organizational atmosphere where safety and health is understood to be, and is accepted as, a high priority." Arden also identifies attitudes, environment, and systems as necessary factors in establishing a culture of safety. With this definition in mind, the OSW Group examined the creation of a culture of safety in police organizations from three perspectives: leadership, risk management, and safety research. Leadership was viewed as influencing attitudes, environments, and systems in a police organization. Leadership at all levels must make both consistent messaging and modeling of safety practices an agency's top priority. Regarding risk management, police executives should proactively collect and analyze data on safety issues and form effective solutions that reduce officer injuries and fatalities. Law enforcement managers should consider incorporating a risk management unit within an agency, enabling it to monitor and update policies, training, and practices that ensure safety protocols are understood and practiced. A safety culture is also dependent on knowledge about the causes of officer injuries and fatalities and the effectiveness of various safety practices in reducing officer injuries and fatalities. Such knowledge is obtained by paying attention to the latest research on various aspects of officer safety. This ensures that an agency's policies and practices reflect recent research that bears upon officer safety and wellness. This report includes presentations delivered at the meeting on various aspects of leadership, risk management, and research as main features in the development of an agency's culture of safety. 4 tables, 4 figures, 19 references, and appended meeting agenda and a list of attendees

Date Published: July 1, 2014