The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has released a pamphlet summarizing the science behind actions law enforcement agencies can take to improve officer safety and wellness.
The pamphlet, entitled “Protecting Our Protectors: Using Science to Improve Officer Safety and Wellness,” focuses on ways officers can be safer on the streets; in use-of-force incidents; on the road; and on how they may improve their quality of life.
“The pamphlet focuses on how a police officer can better be physically, emotionally and mentally prepared to do the job, both on and off duty,” says VML Insurance Programs (VMLIP) Law Enforcement Specialist Thomas Bullock.
It also provides statistics and panel data which points to the use of body armor, conducted energy devices, such as TASERs; and high-intensity blue lights on patrol cars and retroreflective materials on emergency vehicles as contributing to overall officer safety.
Another important recommendation in the pamphlet comes directly from results of The Shift Length Expirement, which found that 10-hour shifts have advantages over eight and 12 hour shifts, including:
- Less cost to police departments on overtime;
- Higher quality of work life;
- Fewer errors made by officers;
- No decrease in performance; and
- Most importantly – more sleep for officers.
As Sleep Disorders, Health and Safety in Police Officers has found that police officers are twice as likely to suffer from sleep disorders, this last recommendation may be vital toward preventing accidents and injuries on the job.
“Fatigue increases the probability that officers will be involved in incidents that put themselves and their community at risk,” says Bullock. “Decreased alertness can have a dramatic impact on impairing officer performance.”
The NIJ is the research, development and evaluation agency of the United States Department of Justice, and is dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science.
For more information or to access the brochure visit the NIJ Web site.
Litigation against law enforcement continues to increase. As a result the monetary costs associated with litigation also increases. An effective risk management program can aid in identifying potential risk and liability exposures, and with identifying policy areas that could lead to litigation, citizen complaints, and liability claims.
VML Insurance Programs members with public officials liability coverage benefit from our Law Enforcement Services at no additional charge. Services include consultative services to assist in mitigation of law enforcement liability exposure, including technical assistance; liability training; in-class driver training; loss and injury analysis; policy review and assistance; off-duty identification wrist band program; and assistance with developing fitness and wellness programs.
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