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Pillar 6 — Officer Wellness and Safety

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EPPD cops and bobbers event imageMost law enforcement officers walk into risky situations and encounter tragedy on a regular basis. Some witness events that stay with them for the rest of their lives. Others are physically injured in carrying out their duties, sometimes needlessly, through mistakes made in high stress situations. As a result, physical, mental and emotional injuries plague many law enforcement agencies.

However, a large proportion of officer injuries and deaths are not the result of interaction with criminal offenders, but the outcome of reduced physical health due to poor nutrition, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation and substance abuse. Many other injuries and fatalities are the result of vehicular accidents. The wellness and safety of law enforcement officers is critical not only to themselves, their colleagues and their agencies, but also to public safety. Officers who are mentally or physically incapacitated cannot serve their communities adequately and can be a danger to the people they serve, their fellow officers and to themselves. It's of utmost importance that officers receive adequate safety and wellness support.

Recommendation Description

The U.S. Department of Justice should enhance and further promote its multi-faceted officer safety and wellness initiative.

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Law enforcement agencies should promote safety and wellness at every level of the organization.

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The U.S. Department of Justice should encourage and assist departments in the implementation of scientifically supported shift lengths by law enforcement.

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Every law enforcement officer should be provided with individual tactical first aid kits and training as well as anti-ballistic vests.

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The U.S. Department of Justice should expand efforts to collect and analyze data not only on officer deaths but also on injuries and “near misses.”

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Law enforcement agencies should adopt policies that require officers to wear seat belts and bullet-proof vests and provide training to raise awareness of the consequences of failure to do so.

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Congress should develop and enact peer review error management legislation.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation should provide technical assistance opportunities for departments to explore the use of vehicles equipped with vehicle collision prevention “smart car” technology that will reduce the number of accidents.

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How the Eden Prairie Police Department Demonstrates Officer Wellness and Safety