Law enforcement safety is a Department of Justice and BJA priority. In support of the President's officer safety-focused Executive Order, BJA's National Officer Safety Initiatives (NOSI) currently address law enforcement safety in three key areas: law enforcement suicide, traffic safety, and a national public awareness and education campaign. BJA knows that officer safety encompasses a wide range of issues aside from tactics; it also includes physical, emotional, and mental factors. All contribute equally to an officer being safe.
According to statistics gathered by and presented in the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's (NLEOMF) 2018 End of Year Preliminary Law Enforcement Officer Fatalities Report, (viewed January 3, 2019), law enforcement line-of-duty deaths increased by 12 percent from 2017 to 2018. As of December 31, 2018, 145 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers died in the line-of-duty in 2018, up from 129 officers in 2017. In 2018:
- Firearms-related fatalities were the leading cause of officer deaths, with 53 officers shot and killed, a 15 percent increase from 2017.
- 50 officers were killed in traffic-related incidents, a 9 percent increase over 2017 traffic-related deaths.
- 42 officers died from other causes, a 14 percent increase from 2017.
Our nation's law enforcement faces a variety of unpredictable challenges, threats, and situations every day. They put physical and emotional tolls on our officers, requiring constant awareness of (and concern for) the possible risks of (as well as exposure to) volatile, physically dangerous, and sometimes tragic and emotional situations. If left unaddressed, fatalities due to these situations and stressors will continue. Law enforcement officers need to be as prepared as possible with the skills, knowledge, and tools to help them not only better address the emotional and mental aspects of police work but also the strategic and tactical aspects of the profession in order to be safer, healthier, and serve their communities and agencies to the best of their abilities.
To address these concerns, in FY 2018, BJA created three programs under NOSI:
- National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicide
- National Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Program
- Supporting the Blue Public Awareness and Education Campaign
National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicides
IACP will convene a consortium to develop a report on the current state of law enforcement suicide by focusing on challenges, successes, and gaps. It will provide recommendations on policy and procedure updates, effective messaging strategies, and best practice programs. The report will include recommendations on how to engage families in suicide awareness and prevention at all phases of an officer’s career, including retirement. From this report, IACP will develop a national law enforcement suicide prevention and awareness program and resources including a review of currently available relevant literature, infographics, and an executive summary. IACP will also develop a resource toolkit to assist agencies in developing custom programs.
National Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Program
The National Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Program will provide in-person and online training to state, local, and tribal law enforcement on a variety of traffic safety issues identified through research and data. It will assist law enforcement agencies in enhancing safety by providing technical assistance on policies, procedures, and training, and it will deliver informational resources to improve traffic safety awareness among law enforcement. The focus will be on individual behavior changes, leadership, and organization. The program will also develop a traffic safety education and awareness campaign for agencies and will use the VALOR Initiative network as a way to deliver the campaign and promote training and resources.
Supporting the Blue Public Awareness and Education Campaign
NSA's program will be a proactive, multifaceted public awareness campaign. It will use all forms of media to educate the public about law enforcement, and it will promote positive messaging about our nation’s law enforcement, including bringing to light the positive nature and aspects of the profession. And it will educate the public about the challenges that law enforcement face in the performance of their duties.