In honor of National Safety Month, the Derry Software team would like to recognize those who keep us safe and bring awareness to the dangers Law Enforcement officers face daily.

Every year, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases a National Census of fatal occupational injuries, outlining the most threatening and dangerous jobs in the United States. With over 168 line of duty deaths in 2018 and 46 already accounted for in 2019, it is no surprise that out of the 10 most deadly occupations listed, Law Enforcement ranks one of the highest.

For all Law Enforcement, safety is always on the line. Officers across the country face unforeseen challenges that redefine their line of work every single day. Many of these challenges have been existent for numerous of years, while others have recently made their debut in society.

Traffic deaths are responsible for a large portion of law enforcement fatalities, but it does not account for the majority. The largest cause of death for law enforcement according to  the BLS, is gunfire, followed by automobile and motorcycle accidents, heart attack, and vehicular assault. More recent causes of death include bombings, stabbings, and 9/11 related illnesses.

We spoke with Investigator Terry Topping about officer safety and some of the challenges officers face in today’s environment. Terry is a special investigations and narcotics investigator with the Chattanooga Police Department in Chattanooga, TN, where he has worked for over 20 years.  We asked Inv. Topping about challenges to officer safety, and his answer was communication.

One of the biggest challenges for officers in staying safe is communication. With advances in technology, communication has become easier to some, but not others. Newly commissioned officers often have a much easier time understanding the variety of forms of communication today, to include social media and new databases that provide crucial information.  They have grown up with technology and are often very comfortable using it.  Veteran officers, however, sometimes must adapt to the latest technologies.  This can lead to challenges in communicating important information and even miscommunication.

Although officer safety has not declined over the last several years, it has not greatly improved. Officer injuries and deaths continue to occur, even with improved training, education, and technological advances in personal protective equipment and means for information dissemination (or knowledge management). Technological advances in the area of knowledge management perhaps is progressing most rapidly, suggesting the need to provide even further emphasis on training and education to ensure information exchange and communications are maximized.  Armed with additional information, officers can then make more informed decisions regarding their actions, hopefully leading to positive impacts on officer safety and performance.

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