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, BJA created the following programs under NOSI:
Adaptive Defensive and Protective Tactics (ADAPT) Project
This project is integrating data and research on police decision-making, use of force, officer injuries and fatalities, officer safety, human performance, physiology and kinesiology, etc., to design an updated model defensive tactics training that can be integrated into the training program of any sized agency.
National Consortium on Preventing Law Enforcement Suicides
This project 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.
National Law Enforcement Roadway Safety Program
This training and technical assistance program delivers training and resources to law enforcement that focuses on a variety of traffic safety issues identified through research and data with the goal of reducing traffic-related injuries and deaths of officers.
Reducing Violent Crime Campaign
This campaign is bringing awareness of the ravages of violent crime, underscoring shared responsibility, and providing tools for reducing violent crime through dissemination of online educational materials, using McGruff the Crime Dog®, and through a satellite media tour.
Strengthening Officer Wellness Program
This program delivers in-person and online trainings, tools, and resources on officer health, wellness, and safety. The program will also develop and deliver a comprehensive Officer Safety and Wellness Agency Assessment Tool and Action Planning Roadmap and deploy technical assistance (TA) to agencies to implement the assessment. In addition, it will create and launch Peer-to-Peer TA.
Supporting the Blue Public Awareness and Education Campaign
This program is educating the public about law enforcement, opening lines of communication between law enforcement and their communities, and is promoting positive messaging about our nation’s law enforcement, including bringing to light the positive nature and aspects of the profession as well as the challenges.
Violent Crime Reduction (VCRIME) Project
This project is a nationwide messaging, education, and community engagement program focusing on community violence reduction. The project is using a two-pronged approach to maximize the opportunity to promote the VCRIME shared responsibility message; 1) design and implementation of an educational, messaging, and community engagement program; and 2) a structured implementation framework for disseminating VCRIME messaging and resources at a local level via outreach efforts to targeted local and community organizations (including in all designated QOZs).