Like many good ideas, Law Officer Magazine’s Below 100 initiative came out of a conversation around a dinner table. In April 2010, several contributors and friends were enjoying a dinner together at the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) Conference. There had been a spate of officer deaths, and clearly, everyone at the table was concerned. Captain Travis Yates of the Tulsa (Okla.) PD made a statement that caused everyone to pause “If we would just slow down, wear our seatbelts and clear intersections, we could get our line of duty deaths to Below 100 a year.”
The idea of Below 100 began at that table and continues today and it’s evolved into Below 100 Program, an initiative that aims to reduce the line of duty deaths to below 100, a number not the seen since 1944. If you’re reading this, consider yourself part of this conversation.
We can do this. We’ve done it before. In 1974, the all-time high year for officer deaths, 278 were killed in the line of duty. Innovations in training, emergency medicine and vehicles, as well as the development of ballistic armor, all contributed to bring this number down. We’ve averaged about 150 officers killed per year in the last ten years. Together, we can bring that number to below 100.
We have identified five key tenets by which we can improve officer safety—areas where we can make a difference. Below 100 isn’t about statistics. It’s about each and every officer, trainer and supervisor taking individual and collective responsibility for the decisions and actions that contribute to safety.
For those in a leadership position, Below 100 means supporting a culture of safety throughout your department. Make doing the right thing so ingrained in your personnel that it becomes the norm and not the exception. Just as importantly, hold accountable those who stray outside what should be common sense. Often, a private word with a misguided officer is all it takes to correct his or her misperception. Law Officer Magazine is committed to providing you the tools and resources you need to make a culture of safety thrive throughout your department.
Finally, Below 100 is a challenge that recognizes each officer death as a tragedy. It’s our duty to face down death and protect the innocent when called to do so. It’s a fact: Good cops will die each year. But working together—and only by working together—we can keep our streets and ourselves safer.