Law Officer’s Below 100 initiative was, from the outset, bold. The vision was, after all, to change police culture in order to dramatically lower line-of-duty deaths. With approximately 800,000 officers in the U.S., we knew we’d jumped right into the deep end of the pool when we started.
Below 100 is now nearly one year old as a concept. We started with a major spread in the magazine—10 pages in the October 2010 issue dedicated to Below 100. Then, to test the waters in front of real cops, Editor-in-Chief Dale Stockton and Chief Scot Haug of Post Falls (Idaho) PD presented Below 100 at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas in January. The response encouraged us to do more, and a whole lot has happened since.
In April, Dale, Travis Yates, Brian Willis and Chief Jeff Chudwin presented Below 100 Train-the-Trainer at the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) conference in Wheeling, Ill. This presentation was a watershed moment, and the amount of momentum Below 100 gained from that single event is a testament to the influence of ILEETA.
Of the 70-plus ILEETA trainers in attendance, many have gone on to make their mark with Below 100. Foremost, John Bostain of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center has trained more than 1,000 officers in the tenets of Below 100. Dennis Valone of the Georgia Tactical Officers Association has been hard at work spreading the word in his state. The state of Indiana has incorporated Below 100 in their academy training. South Dakota is doing the same. It would be fair to say that several thousand officers have been reached as a result of these efforts alone.
In July, Dale, Travis and Brian presented a second Train-the-Trainer event at the police academy in Charlotte, N.C. More than 100 trainers were in attendance; some of them drove hundreds of miles to get there. We’ve already heard back from many of you about how this training is having an impact.
We now hear from officers regularly about Below 100. Here’s a couple of highlights: Sgt. Andrew Nagel of the LA Sheriff’s Department recently told us that they’re using Below 100 in their station to underscore the importance of seatbelt use; they estimate their compliance is now at 98%. Shortly after the initial Below 100 training, Travis Yates received a note that began, “Thank you for saving my partner’s life.” Wow.
Two of the best law enforcement support organizations in the country, Concerns of Police Survivors and Officer Down Memorial Page, have formally endorsed the Below 100 initiative. You can expect these partnerships to blossom into joint efforts to improve officer safety.
So what’s next? As this goes to press, Dale and Brian will be training at the Legacy of Excellence Conference in Calgary. (That’s right—even the Canadians are embracing the Below 100 effort!) In February of 2012, we have plans to present a large-scale Below 100 Train-the-Trainer event in Atlanta—with the legendary Gordon Graham presenting a special bonus section. Other events are being scheduled as this is being written. Make sure you check out the new Below100.com (you can now use the url www.below100.com) and stay tuned as we build this into a valuable training resource for you and your officers. Watch this site also for Below 100 training opportunities.
Thank you all for your support in this initiative to drive down line-of-duty police deaths. Thank you also to DSM Dyneema for generously underwriting this effort. Remember: Officers don’t have to die in the numbers that we’ve been seeing for decades. Working together, we can change this. We will change this.