Police officer safety is a primary concern and goal of many police departments. The departments that have the fewest number of incidents are the ones that have access to advanced safety equipment and extended training of new police officers. Law enforcement safety is directly affected by these factors. According to government data, during the last decade, there were approximately 60,000 assaults a year on police officers. With the following safety devices and training courses, this number can be decreased.
Increased new officer training and retraining
Police safety is affected by experience and knowledge of the job. Officers that have been on the job are less likely to be assaulted. This is often due to the fact that these officers have better awareness regarding the dangerousness of a situation. It is also related a general knowledge of the best type of safety equipment and weapons to carry. Many new officer trainings are short and it is expected that the officer learned much of it in their police academy training. However, different departments have different regulations and extended training can ensure these are followed.
Retraining may also be important for officers that have been with the department for many years. When an officer is not presented with a situation years, they may forget the appropriate safety protocols to initiate. While experienced police officers might not require extended training each year they serve on the force, updated courses could be helpful in reducing officer assaults.
Greater access to target practice
Over one third of law enforcement officer deaths over the last 10 years were caused by gunshots, making shootings the second leading cause of police officer death (after motor vehicle crashes). Most officers are trained in shooting during the police academy but are left to practice their shooting skills on their own after graduating. While some officers make it a point to visit local shooting ranges, most do not do it enough to hone in on their shooting skills. Police departments can improve their officer?s shooting and response times by providing them shooting targets or access to local shooting ranges.
Access to safety items
With many city police departments being on budget cuts, it might be difficult to provide officers with the safety equipment they need. However, officers that wear body armor clothing or other types of police tactical gear are less likely to be injured on the job. According to a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 71% of local police departments in 2013 required officers to wear body armor clothing at all times. That still leaves almost 30% of officers that are not protected, on a regular basis.
When officers get in the habit of wearing body armor clothing on a regular basis, they are much safer on the job. Simply providing a police department with body armor clothing does not ensure that the officers will wear them. Many will only do so when going into a dangerous situation. But, these dangerous situations cannot always be predicted and safety is still a concern.
Body and dash cameras
Cameras can also promote safety. It can encourage officers to think more about their reactions to certain situations. It can also notify criminals that they are being videoed and that their actions will have consequences. Video cameras in combination with body armor clothing can significantly reduce the number of incidents in a single police department.
There is no question that police officers have a risky job. They are put into the face of danger on a daily basis and crimes do occur that threaten their safety. Police departments can give officers a safer environment by extending training programs, providing access to shooting targets and ranges, and requiring that officers use body armor clothing and dash cams at all times.