On a recent Thursday, I had the privilege of attending the Atlanta Train the Trainer event for Below 100. Below 100 is an initiative of Law Officer Magazine (in partnership with LE trainers, officers, agencies, and others who will join this noble undertaking) to reduce police line-of-duty deaths (LODD’s) to fewer than one hundred per year. The training featured some of the top voices in law enforcement training (Gordon Graham, Dale Stockton, Brian Willis, and Travis Yates), and their passion was certainly inspiring. I encourage you to visit the website and learn more.
We know that there are going to be a certain number of casualties in this profession. The danger comes with the territory. The will be certain fatalities that are not preventable. Hence, the initiative is not aiming for zero deaths or fewer than 50. But, consistent research of deaths has shown that a number of them are preventable, and those preventable deaths fall under the auspices of what the Below 100 team is calling “the 5 Tenets.” By focusing on these 5 areas through training and ongoing emphasis, we are certain that we can once again reduce LODD’s to fewer than 100 per year…not to mention all of the injuries, property damage, insurance claims, and lawsuit settlements that will be spared.
I heard a leadership principle recently that falls into line with the fifth tenet – “Remember: Complacency Kills.” The principle is this, “Longetivity is no guarantee of future survival.” The application is that we cannot take for granted the need for ongoing growth, development, and training. Just because we have been on the job for 5, 10, 15, or more years does not mean that we are somehow exempt from the dangers of the profession. In fact, those who are “ROD – Retired On Duty” are at a greater risk – and thereby place us all at greater risk. How often do we run through scenarios and what-if’s in our mind as a way of preparing? How often do we check our equipment, charge batteries, maintain our vehicles, or debrief calls to evaluate our performance?
As part of the training, the question was presented: “What does the opposite of complacency look like?” If we don’t want to fall into complacency, then what things should we focus on? Participants talked about preparedness, awareness, diligence, vigilance, and more. The term “situational awareness” is also used in training circles. As you read this, take a moment, examine all areas of your life (family, relationships, spiritual life, work, hobbies, etc.), and think about ways you can combat complacency.
Complacency really does kill us. In our spiritual lives, do we fail to pray, study, and practice spiritual disciplines? We’ve heard that Jesus is coming back all of our lives – and for generations past – and no longer live with the expectancy deserved the day that “will come as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10). We act as though a lifetime of “being saved” or being active in church guarantees future survival. Now, I don’t want to get into the “unconditional eternal security” debate. That’s not the point. The point is that our spiritual journey involves ongoing growth and development. Are we growing complacent? Are we holding one another accountable? As I posted on Facebook, my prayer is the same as the lyrics of a song by Bishop Paul Morton. “Lord, whatever You’re doing in this season, please don’t do it without me.” I want to stay right in the middle of things. I want to be ready; prepared for challenges, and positioned for success.
As I considered partnering with the Below 100 initiative, I asked how it fits into and furthers our mission. We are concerned about ministering to the needs of those within the profession in a wholistic way – ministering to the whole person and profession. We have to earn the right to be heard, and I believe that faith permeates all areas of our lives. We want to keep officers alive and healthy with their families intact. And…we want them to be ready for eternity whenever that day comes.