Emergency Responder Safety Institute Launches ReportStruckBy.Com to Collect Critical Roadway Response Struck-By Incident Data Directly from First Responders

The Emergency Responder Safety Institute has launched a new nationwide database to collect detailed information about incidents on the roadway where emergency responders or their equipment were struck by a vehicle while operating at a scene.

Available at ReportStruckBy.com using the ResponderSafety.com platform, the database accepts reports from all roadway responders, including fire, law enforcement, EMS, fire police and special traffic units, safety service and freeway service patrols, departments of transportation, public works, and towing and recovery. The goal is to improve the voluntary reporting, tracking, and analysis of struck-by incident data to prevent future incidents.

Any roadway responder can report a struck-by incident to ReportStruckBy.com,whether that incident resulted in death, injury, or property damage. Reporting is anonymous with an option to provide contact information for follow up by ReponderSafety.com.

The reporting form takes approximately 3-4 minutes to complete. All fields are optional so you can report as much as you know and skip what you don’t. The site is mobile device responsive for easy reporting from the field or the station.

All reports are welcome. ERSI wants as much data as possible on the continuing problem of secondary crashes and struck-by incidents at emergency scenes on the roadway.

“Every emergency responder knows struck-by incidents are a problem,” said Steve Austin, project manager of ResponderSafety.com, “We’re living it every day. What we need to do is help others understand what we experience. We need our elected officials, project managers, and the public on board to help us create change through prioritization of this problem and funding solutions that get us to zero struck-by incidents. This data is going to help get us there, if emergency responders from every agency participate and submit reports. Documenting and analyzing the data will eventually help make us all safer out there.”

Developing the database in cooperation with traffic incident management and responder safety experts took several months. The organizations who support ReportStruckBy.com include:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

  • Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ERSI)

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

  • National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO)

  • National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA)

  • International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

  • National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF)

  • Towing and Recovery Association of America (TRAA)

  • American Public Works Association (APWA)

  • United States Fire Administration (USFA)

  • International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)

  • Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA)

  • National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)

  • National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA)

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH)

  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)

  • Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE)

  • American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

At this time, data collected will not be available to the general public but this capability may be available in the future. Research and press inquiries about the database should be directed to the ResponderSafety.com contact form


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The Value of Human Behavior Pattern Recognition and Analysis for Law Enforcement

Policing Matters Podcast From Police1.com


Being able to read human behavior patterns in real-time can allow officers to predict, detect, avoid or mitigate dangerous or unsafe situations.



Download this week’s episode on Apple PodcastsAmazon MusicStitcherSpotify or via RSS feed.

The public has a high expectation that law enforcement officers should be able to see in the future and know what is going to happen on a call for service. We have seen new legislation that is based upon this presumption, especially in situations where force is used. How exactly are officers supposed to learn how to see into the future, much less through clothing and concealed areas to know if there is a weapon present on a suspect or not?

Today’s guests on the Policing Matters podcast may be able to show us how we can sharpen our senses and use science to help us predict outcomes based on human reactions. Brian Marren is a human behavior subject matter expert and Senior VP of Operations at Arcadia Cogenerati, a company that trains in the science of human behavior. A former Marine Scout Sniper with multiple deployments to Iraq, he has worked with people from the military, Fortune 500 companies, schools, hospitals, churches and law enforcement agencies. Greg Williams is the president and founder of Arcadia Cognerati, and a decorated urban law enforcement professional and a decorated former soldier with over 30 years of combined experience and expertise. Brian and Greg also host a podcast called “The Left of Greg.”


Enjoying the show? Please take a moment to rate and review us on Apple Podcasts. Contact the Policing Matters team at policingmatters@policeone.com to share ideas, suggestions and feedback.


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Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

Five Things About Substance Use Interventions

Substance use disorders, which include substance dependence and abuse, have a tremendous impact on individuals, families, and communities.

The five statements below are based on practices rated by CrimeSolutions.[1]

1. Medication-assisted treatment is effective for reducing opioid dependence.

Medication-assisted treatments for opioid dependence are designed to help patients with opioid additions alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce or suppress opioid cravings, and reduce the illicit use of opioids.

Based on a review and rating by CrimeSolutions of multiple meta-analyses, medication-assisted treatments for individuals with opioid dependence have been found to be effective in reducing opioid dependence.  

Medication-assisted treatments designed for persons with opioid dependence have been shown to be not effective for reducing the use of benzodiazepines or cocaine for persons who abuse those substances as well as opioids.

To learn more, review the practice profiles for:

2. Cannabis use disorder can be effectively treated using psychosocial interventions.

Psychosocial interventions may include many forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, and relapse prevention to treat cannabis use disorder.

Based on a review and rating by CrimeSolutions of two meta-analyses composed of evaluations using randomized controlled trials, psychosocial interventions are effective for reducing the use of cannabis and the symptoms of dependence, and for increasing the prevalence of abstinence.

Review the practice profile Psychosocial Interventions for Cannabis Use Disorder to learn more.

3. Strategies that reward positive behavior and withhold rewards when undesired behavior is exhibited can reduce alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use.

Rewarding and withholding rewards as a means to affect behavior — called contingency management— is an intervention strategy designed to reduce substance use disorders. The overall goal is abstinence from substance use.

Based on a review and rating by CrimeSolutions of two meta-analyses, both including multiple randomized controlled trials, participants in contingency management programs had lower rates of illicit drug use, alcohol use, and tobacco use than those who did not participate in such programs.

Review the practice profile Contingency Management Interventions for Substance Use Disorders to learn more.

This practice seeks to reduce alcohol use or alcohol-related problems for adolescents and young adults via a short-term intervention (one to five sessions).

Based on a review and rating by CrimeSolutions of a meta-analysis, such interventions are effective for reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problem outcomes for adolescents and young adults.

See the practice profile Brief Alcohol Interventions for Adolescents and Young Adults to learn more.

5. Juvenile drug courts do not have an effect on drug and alcohol offense recidivism or future drug use.

Juvenile drug courts are dockets within juvenile courts for cases involving youth who have abused substances and are in need of specialized treatment services. The focus is on providing treatment to eligible youth who are involved with drugs, with the goal of reducing recidivism and substance abuse.

Based on a review and rating by CrimeSolutions of two meta-analyses, juvenile drug courts have no significant effect on the incidence of drug-related offenses or substance use.

See the practice profile Juvenile Drug Courts to learn more.

[note 1] As defined by CrimeSolutions, a practice is a general category of programs, strategies, or procedures that share similar characteristics with regard to the issues they address and how they address them. Practice profiles tell us about the average results from multiple evaluations of similar programs, strategies, or procedures.

CrimeSolutions helps practitioners and policymakers understand what works in justice-related programs and practices. CrimeSolutions is funded by the National Institute of Justice and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Programs and practices profiles related to juveniles also appear on OJJDP’s Model Programs Guide.


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Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

Crime and Desistance: Probing How Probationers’ Thoughts on Crime May Inform Their Conduct

The ways that people on probation tend to think about crime can offer important clues about whether they will resume or reject a criminal life. A number of past studies have examined how probationers’ cognitions relate to recidivism, that is, a return to criminal activity. Less of the research has looked at links between cognition and desistance, that is, refraining from crime going forward. [1]

No consensus definition of “desistance” exists in the literature. Among other widely recognized meanings, desistance has been defined to be long-term abstinence from crime [2] or the gradual slowing down of offending.[3] It can refer to the act of refraining from crime or the process of becoming, or remaining, crime-free.

A recent study supported by the National Institute of Justice has generated novel findings on probationers’ cognitions informing desistance, including insight into:

  • Probationers’ beliefs motivating a desire to desist from crime.
  • The tendency of probationers’ thoughts on desistance to evolve over time — or remain static.
  • Differences between probationers’ own thinking regarding desistance and their community supervision officers’ perceptions regarding those probationer cognitions.

Taken together, the two main segments of the study yielded insights on the nature and prevalence of desistance cognitions. The study team called for caution, however, in reaching any firm conclusions on the significance of those cognitions.

Some major implications of the results, according to the researchers, are:

  • Probationers who are motivated to desist but fear that they will be thwarted by outside factors are at greater risk to recidivate.
  • Community corrections agencies should commit to helping probationers capitalize on their desistance cognitions.
  • Agencies should not be overly confident that they can identify probationers’ core beliefs driving desistance and know how to enhance those beliefs.


Probation is the form of community supervision of convicted individuals imposed by courts in lieu of incarceration. Because probation occurs in communities, not correctional institutions, it presents probationers with opportunities to either return to criminal activity or access resources to help them refrain, or desist, from crime. Probationer decision-making toward desistance is an important factor informing community corrections policy and practice.

Past research has focused on cognitive decision-making toward or away from crime. Prior to the current project, few longitudinal studies have assessed how cognitive mechanisms underlying recidivism or desistance may change over time. Thus, as of the outset of the project, researchers observed, how cognitions change across time during probation was largely unknown. Research was also scant on the question of which decision-making cognitions may be stronger drivers of desistance. The study’s purpose was to investigate decision-making toward desistance.

Study Design

A research team from the University of Texas at El Paso conducted a two-phase study of desistance cognitions. The researchers engaged community corrections agencies in two locations, one in Texas and the other, a federal probation site, in a neighboring state. The first, qualitative phase, consisted of focus groups of probationers from both corrections agencies. Researchers asked the participants to reflect on cognitions that promoted positive behavior and motivated them to maintain a crime-free lifestyle, according to the report. The second, longitudinal phase included a questionnaire completed three times over the course of approximately two years by 252 probationers from Texas and 73 from a state adjoining Texas. A separate element of the second phase gauged community supervision officers’ beliefs regarding probationers’ desistance cognitions. The research team trained a sample group of corrections officers on an assessment tool measuring factors such as presence of negative probationer moods and aspects of probationer impulsivity. Finally, official corrections data were used to provide probationer demographic, criminal history, recidivism risk score, and revocation information.

Core Components of Desistance

The questionnaires completed by probationers identified core components of desistance cognitions. According to the study report, those components include:

  • On average, participants rated their cognitions as pro-desistance and anti-crime.
  • Participants generally held positive views of desistance, the need to extend effort for desistance, and personal agency (that is, capacity for independent action) to desist.
  • By contrast, most participants did not endorse strongly negative expectations for desistance or beliefs that their efforts to desist will be thwarted.
  • On average, participants were found to have higher positive mood states than negative mood states.
  • Participants did not view themselves as strongly impulsive.

The findings on desistance cognitions were qualified, however, by the researchers’ determination that there was limited evidence, in their longitudinal study, that probationers’ cognitions changed over time. They concluded that the “models suggest [cognition] stability is more common than change.”

One observed change over time, the researchers found, was that participants endorsed fewer beliefs about the benefits of desistance from crime and had less belief in their independent ability to control whether they would refrain from crime going forward.

Low positive emotion (but not high negative emotion) predicted higher likelihood of recidivism, and the sensation seeking element of impulsivity particularly predicted recidivism after controlling for other aspects of impulsivity.

Other Key Findings and Implications

Among key research findings were:

From two focus groups of probationers —

  • Probationers generally engaged in a process of desistance during probation, becoming more aware over their term of probation of the negative consequences of criminal activity.
  • Probationers were consciously aware of certain cognitions theorized to drive the process of desistance, including:
    • Engagement in cost-benefit thinking.
    • A slowing of impulsive thinking that leads to crime.
    • Endorsement of personal agency, or independent decision-making, toward desistance.

From longitudinal studies of probationers over three points in time, with community supervision officers assessing probationer cognitions 

  • Findings that cannot be explained by chance alone (i.e., statistically significant findings):
    • Individual probationers often differed from each other in their crime and desistance beliefs.
    • Probationers perceived more negative consequences of crime and fewer positive benefits of crime.
  • Notable, but not statistically significant, findings:
    • There was some evidence that participants adopted fewer beliefs over time about the benefits of desisting from crime. This finding approached statistical significance, the research report said.
    • Probation officers are more aware of circumstances in which probationers are not engaged in desistance than in which they are engaged in desistance. This finding also approached statistical significance, the report said.
    • Contrary to a study hypothesis, probationers’ cognitions tended to be stable over time, indicating stability was more common than change.
    • Probationers who expressed greater fear that their efforts to desist would be thwarted or blocked by external factors were more likely to recidivate. This finding approached statistical significance when controlling for antisocial intent.

Key policy implications of the study, according to the researchers, included:

  • Probationers may need assistance overcoming barriers to crime desistance. Study results showed that individuals who were motivated to desist but feared — perhaps accurately — that their efforts would be thwarted by external forces were at greater risk to recidivate.
  • Community corrections agencies should adopt a goal of helping probationers capitalize on their desistance motivations, such as wanting to have a greater life purpose and value.
  • Agencies should not be overly confident that they can identify probationers’ core beliefs driving desistance and know how to enhance beliefs toward desistance.
  • The research largely supported contemporary best practices in community corrections, including the need to address procriminal attitudes and poor impulse control as key predictors of criminal behavior.


The research team expected to find that probationers’ desistance cognitions change across time and that those cognitions predict outcomes by changing ahead of desistance and relating to behavior in expected ways. Those expectations were generally not met in the study. The study did find support for helping probationers use their strengths to desist, but cautioned that this would be challenging for community supervision officers to do. More research would be needed before developing and employing strategies for community corrections agencies to manage and reduce risk through a desistance cognition framework, the team reported.

About this Article

The research described in this article was funded by NIJ award 2014-R2-CX-0009, awarded to The University of Texas at El Paso. This article is based on the grantee report “Research on Offender Decision-Making and Desistance From Crime: A Multi-Theory Assessment of Offender Cognition Change.” Principal Investigator: Caleb D. Lloyd.

[note 1] See, e.g., Edward Mulvey et al., “Theory and Research on Desistance from Anti-Social Activity Among Serious Adolescent Offenders,” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 2 no. 3 (July 2004): 213, 219.

[note 2] Shadd Maruna, Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001).

[note 3] Stephen Farrall and Adam Calverley, Understanding Desistance From Crime: Theoretical Directions in Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2006).


Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

During COVID-19, Road Fatalities Increased, Transit Ridership Dipped

Empty streets, highways, and transit systems were a visible effect of the pandemic on our daily lives. Despite how quiet our roads got at the onset of the pandemic, they also became more dangerous.

Ths WatchBlog post looks at recent data on traffic safety, and our recent reports on the pandemic’s effects on public transportation and how the federal government has responded to these impacts.

After a long period of decline, traffic fatalities have increased even as many switched to working from home

If you’ve been driving around during the pandemic, you have probably noticed that there have been far fewer cars on the road over the past 18 months. While that might seem like a good thing for safety (fewer cars means fewer crashes, right?), traffic fatalities have increased since the pandemic started.

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that traffic fatalities during the first half of 2021 increased 18.4% since the first half of 2020. The estimated 20,160 fatalities during the first half of last year is the highest since 2006.

Why might this be happening? It’s not clear yet why there have been more fatalities on the road over the past two years. According to preliminary research by NHTSA, people who continued to drive during the pandemic may have engaged in riskier behavior including speeding, failure to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Historically, these are some of the most frequently cited causes of traffic fatalities. For example, NHTSA estimated 47% of passengers killed in 2018 were not wearing a seat belt, and the CDC reported that drugs other than alcohol are involved in 16% of motor vehicle crashes.

To help the federal government see the big picture, GAO has done work on traffic safety over the past two decades, from the causes of crashes (drug-impaired drivinggrade crossingstruck underrides), to the effectiveness of preventative measures (pedestrian crash avoidance technologiesalcohol ignition interlocksguardrails), and more.

Public transit ridership and revenue fell dramatically at the onset of the pandemic and have yet to fully recover

Rail has been one of the hardest hit transit modes—which include buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, trolleys, and ferries—as pandemic-related restrictions and workplace flexibilities resulted in steep declines in ridership. Commuter rail agencies reported a 79% decline in ridership, on average, from September 2019 to September 2020. While ridership has improved a little, it remained 59% below pre-pandemic levels as of September 2021.

Transit agencies rely on a mix of funding sources including federal, state, and local funds, as well as rider fares and other agency-generated revenues. Congress approved nearly $70 billion to help public transit agencies remain operational for the millions of Americans that continued to rely on public transportation.

However, transit agencies we’ve spoken to generally expressed concerns that the shifts in commuting and increased telework could continue long after the immediate effects of the pandemic are over. This could continue to impact transit ridership and revenues in the years to come.

New infrastructure bill increases funding for both safety and transit

In November 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law. The bill includes $5 billion for a new program to support local initiatives to prevent death and serious injuries on roads and streets, and approximately $39 billion in new funding to modernize the nation’s public transit system.


Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month

Stalking is generally defined as a pattern of behavior that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Through program funding, research projects, and more, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and its program offices provide information about and resources to support efforts related to the prevention of and responses to stalking.

Following are some topical resources:

During National Stalking Awareness Month (January), see the Stalking Special Feature to access additional information and resources from OJP and other federal agencies on this topic.


Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

Parson’s Pay Proposal Would Aid Judiciary, Defenders

Gov. Mike Parson greets lawmakers as he enters the House chamber on Jan. 19 to deliver the 2022 State of the State address to a joint session of the Missouri General Assembly. Photo courtesy of the Office of Missouri Governor


Story By Scott Lauck | Missouri Lawyers Media

Gov. Mike Parson is recommending a nearly 6 percent increase in the judiciary’s budget for the 2023 fiscal year, largely due to salary increases.

The governor released his budget recommendations on Jan. 19 in conjunction with his annual state of the state address to a joint session of the General Assembly. During that speech, Parson called for a 5.5 percent cost of living adjustment for all state employees.

“The success of our state relies heavily on these public servants, and we must ensure we are able to recruit and retain quality team members to serve Missouri,” he said.

The House and Senate will pass their own versions of the budget, which must be reconciled by May 6. The 2023 fiscal year begins on July 1 of this year.

Parson suggested an overall judicial budget of $261.2 million, which includes cost of living adjustments. It also includes $1.32 million in collective raises that are due under a state law that for the last decade has tied state judges’ salaries to those of federal judges. The Citizens’ Commission on Compensation for Elected Officials meets every two years to set salaries for judges and other public officials and is next scheduled to meet at the end of 2022.

The state’s judiciary had made several other funding requests, some of which Parson is recommending. Those include an additional treatment court commissioner and a supporting staff member for the Jasper County Circuit Court. 

However, the governor did not recommend other suggested judicial expansions, including a probate commissioner for St. Charles County and a part-time family court commissioner for Boone and Callaway counties.

In its budget request, the judiciary also noted that, based on caseloads, the 13th, 16th, 21st, 22nd and 25th circuits qualify for additional circuit judges, though there was no formal request for those positions to be filled.

The governor’s budget allocates an additional $223,595 for interpreters in criminal cases, though similar funding for interpreters for civil cases was denied. 

Parson also recommends funding for additional marshals to enhance security at the St. Louis and Kansas City courthouses of the Court of Appeals. Separately, Parson called for $5 million in federal pandemic relief funds to go to the court system, to be used “for improving security, bandwidth, and technology for remote and in-person court proceedings.”

Public defenders

The suggested pay increase for state employees also would benefit the state public defender system. Parson recommended a $61.1 million budget, which is a 7.6 percent increase from the agency’s current appropriation.

The governor’s budget provides about $590,000 for 12 more investigative and paralegal support staff. Mary Fox, the system’s director, said at a House budget hearing the morning after Parson’s speech the system needs at many as 18 legal assistants and 18 investigators to be spread among its district offices.

The potential increase in staff comes on the heels of last year’s long-sought expansion of the system’s attorneys. Fox told lawmakers that her office has filled 44 of the 57 of the new positions, allowing it to eliminate a wait list for indigent defendants. However, she added that, like many industries, the defender system is also dealing with a large number of vacancies during the pandemic. 

“I think that will really help not just with our recruitment but also with our retention,” Fox said.  


Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

12 Career Tips for Cops

Story By Calibre Press | calibrepress.com


When it comes to navigating a career in policing, sometimes even the seemingly smallest pieces of advice from those with years of experience can have a major impact on your job and your life. In his co-authored reference guide, Pocket Partner, which is packed with helpful informational tidbits that span a stunning range of topics, Dennis Evers shares 12 tips that can prolong and improve your career. We felt they were worth sharing.

If you have any additional advice you would like to share worth fellow officers, let us know! We may share them in an upcoming newsletter.

Here are the 12 keys to a longer, safer and healthier career Dennis shared:

1. Attitude: Attitude is everything. If you bring your personal problems to work, or simply fail to remain focused, you, your partner, or a citizen could pay the price.

2. Lifestyle: Not only is adequate rest important, but overall physical fitness as well. If a foot pursuit kills you, get in shape. Mom’s right – eat more fruits and vegetables.

3. Equipment: You are only as good as your equipment is functional. Keep a clean weapon, fresh ammo, and know how to use it in high stress situations. Fresh batteries in your flashlight and radio are a must. Maintain and know all of your gear. Wear a vest.

4. Intuition: After working the field you should develop a “sixth sense” that intuitively alerts you to the possibility of danger. If you don’t, consider a different line of work. If your inner voice tells you something’s not right, don’t shrug it off.

5. False bravado: If you need back-up, call for it. Never be afraid to admit to yourself that a situation is bigger than you are. Denial can hurt.

6. Position is everything: Never, ever, under any circumstances, let anyone you are questioning get into a better tactical position than you. On traffic stops, takedowns, domestics, and life in general, maintain the most advantageous position you can.

7. Dropping your guard: Treat all false alarms as real, all domestics as critical, all arrests as hazardous and no call as routine, and you should finish your shift.

8. Vigilance: Always watch a suspect’s hands and be aware of “suspicious” moves. “Tune in” to the entire scene, ambushes, hidden suspects and on and on and on…

9. Handcuff when justified: Always properly handcuff when appropriate. Love isn’t the tie that binds, it’s a half pound of cold steel.

10. Search: Weapons come in all shapes and sizes. Thoroughly search all suspects and use proper personal protection against needles, razors, etc. A ball point pen stuck through your eyeball can ruin your day.

11. React: Many cops that have been shot and survived stated they just couldn’t believe it was happening to them. Gun, knife or fist, BELIEVE IT, react immediately, and with appropriate force. Bad guys are called bad for a reason.

12. Think cover. If all else fails, leave yourself an out. Avoid open spaces. Remember the three “Cs”—COVER! COVER! COVER!

Have additional wisdom to share? What’s the key to making a career in policing better, safer, more emotionally survivable? We’d love to hear your tips. We may share them in an upcoming newsletter.

E-mail us at: editor@calibrepress.com


Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

Creating an Effective K9 Unit: Part 2

Choosing the Right Policy, Training, Decoys, and Supervisor


Story By Brad Smith for Working Dog Magazine | workingdogmagazine.com

In my last article, Creating an Effective K9 Unit: Part 1 – Vendor, Trainer, Handler, & Dog Selection, we discussed topics that you may consider before starting a K9 unit or reviewing if you already have one. Now we are going to get to the meat and potatoes.

K9 Policy

It is imperative that your agency has a written K9 policy before activating its unit. While that statement may appear silly, agencies have fielded K9 teams while their policies and procedures were still being written. In so doing, those agencies needlessly exposed themselves to civil liability during that period.

If you’re not sure where to start, companies such as Lexipol sell formats and guidelines for creating K9 policy. Seek out an agency that has a K9 unit with a good reputation, and ask for a copy of their policy. If it has a solid foundation, use it as a guide to draft your own.

Whatever means of guideline creation you select, make sure your K9 policy covers items such as:

  • The K9 unit’s purpose and scope;
  • The chain of command and responsibility within the K9 unit;
  • Dog and handler selection;
  • Daily/weekly/monthly training requirements;
  • Off-duty responsibilities;
  • Requirements for written documentation of training and deployments;
  • When a patrol K9 can be used;
  • K9 detection standards; and
  • Guidelines for public demonstrations.

In general, K9 policies are much improved over what they were 25 years ago. From time to time, some agencies can be found that have K9 policies that appear to have been written 30 or 40 years ago. Make sure your department’s K9 policy is current. It would be wise to have an attorney who is well versed in using K9s for law enforcement review your K9 policy every two or three years.

Once the city or county attorney and the chief of police have approved the policy, the K9 unit’s supervisor should document when each handler receives a copy of that policy. The dates that policy revisions are made should be on the bottom of every revision. This will show an active and ongoing review by the agency to stay up to date with current policing.

Some agencies attempt to create a laundry list of when and where a police dog can be deployed. It is not advisable to have such a list because it’s impossible to think of every possible situation. I prefer the simple approach to K9 deployment. That is, before a police service dog is released to search for a suspect, the handler and, time permitting, the field supervisor should consider the following facts and determine whether the deployment is within policy. If these criteria are met, a police dog can be deployed during a patrol or SWAT operation. One must consider:

  • The severity of the crime;
  • Whether the suspect poses a threat to the safety of law enforcement or others;
  • Whether the suspect is actively resisting or attempting to evade arrest; and
  • What other means, if any, could be used to make the arrest.

Basic K9 Training and Schools

Regardless of who does your basic K9 training, make sure there is a small student-to-instructor ratio. Many times I’ve seen basic K9 schools being taught with one instructor and 12 to 15 dog handlers. Unfortunately, there’s not much teaching or learning going on in such situations. The instructor is more of a manager than a trainer. A ratio of one instructor for every six to seven handlers would work out well.

Another reason it’s important to have a small student-instructor ratio is to make sure the handler and dog are not simply being trained to pass certification tests, but rather to handle real-life situations and for that “what if” moment. Be sure your trainer is challenging both the handler and the dog to prepare them for what they will face in the real world. This type of training can make all the difference on the street and in the courtroom.

Make sure your trainer provides written documentation of the training he or she will be giving your dog/handler team. The last thing you want to hear from your trainer is, “I’m not sure what we’re going to do today; we’ll just wing it.” To keep the training going in the right direction, there should be a set course of instruction: a basic format and set of guidelines that can be customized as needed. The trainer also should be keeping written documentation of each day’s activities and how the dogs performed, even if just pass or fail.

If your trainer’s background is strictly on the civilian/sport dog side, hopefully, he or she has hired some current or prior law enforcement handlers to assist in teaching the basic K9 course. The instructors should be knowledgeable about current case law and be able to answer any questions handlers have. Even though your department’s policy will provide K9 deployment guidelines, it’s always helpful for handlers to be able to discuss basic K9 deployment issues during the course with an instructor who has been there and done that.

It’s also important for the training staff to be knowledgeable in current dog training techniques rather than using analog training techniques and methods from the 1960s and ’70s. The last thing you want to find out during a deposition is that the trainer has not updated or modified his training practices in 20 or 30 years.

Be cautious of basic K9 training courses that have a fast turnaround. In my opinion, unless you have an experienced handler being partnered with an experienced street dog, if a vendor or trainer says he can have a dog and handler trained and ready to work the street in two weeks, you should run the other way. Depending on the dog’s experience and maturity, as well as what you are teaching the dog, a basic patrol K9 school may take as long as six to twelve weeks. An additional three to six weeks may be required to cross-train patrol dogs for detection work.

The last information you should confirm is your trainer’s certification standards. Some states have specific training standards for patrol and detection dogs. If your state does not have such standards, make sure your vendor’s certification training is up to the standards of a reputable national K9 organization such as the National Police Canine Association (NPCA), the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA), or the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) — all of which have developed minimum training and certification standards for patrol and detection dogs. Sometimes the standards set by states or K9 organizations are minimal and basic. Preferably, your vendor is training and certifying to a higher standard.

I cannot overstate the importance of seeking a K9 expert’s opinions and guidance in starting your unit. While I encourage you to do your homework and plenty of research on the vendors you might use, an independent K9 expert can be well worth the extra peace of mind in knowing that you’re not being taken advantage of by the vendor in both the quality of the dog and the training.


To the untrained eye, decoys are considered “bite dummies,” and anyone can do the job. Nothing is further from the truth. Decoys are a vital part of the dog’s training — whether in a basic K9 course or in monthly maintenance training. When the dog is searching out of the handler’s sight, the decoy is the one who gives the dog the proper corrections and modifies its behavior to conform to the handler’s expectations, thus reaching the goal of the exercise.

Typically, a department’s decoys are officers who are interested in becoming dog handlers and who come to K9 training to learn as much as they can before they become part of the unit. For liability protection, a department should put an officer through decoy school before allowing the person to train with the K9 unit. Some departments have officers sign a waiver prior to acting as a department decoy. Even if the decoy school is an in-house overview and introduction to the techniques and methods decoys use, it should be documented as formal training for the volunteers who are attending.

K9 Supervision

In some departments, the K9 supervisor is the weakest link. It would make sense to give charge of the unit to a sergeant or lieutenant who has handler experience — or at least someone who had the desire to be a handler prior to promotion. Unfortunately, some departments don’t consider prior K9 experience a priority and assign a junior sergeant or junior lieutenant to oversee the unit. In many cases, the K9 supervisor never was a handler and had no desire to be one, doesn’t like dogs, and doesn’t particularly want to be a K9 supervisor. That is a recipe for disaster.

“In addition to a K9 supervisor frequently attending the weekly training sessions, it is paramount that they review all the written training documentation, deployment logs, and bite reports.”

Such a K9 supervisor is unlikely to attend K9 training to see how the unit is or is not performing. This K9 supervisor also is likely to deny most handler training requests because he does not see the need for more training, and when it comes to helping his handlers get new equipment, he may not advocate for them with the department’s administration.

Because that K9 supervisor lacks motivation, he will not want to attend a K9 supervisor school to learn what his duties are as well as what he needs to do to protect the K9 unit from civil liability. Moreover, if a K9 handler is not self-motivated or becomes lazy to the point where his performance levels drop on the street and in training, the K9 supervisor will not be in a position to notice or care. The results of such inattentiveness/lack of supervision can easily be regarded as negligent supervision and failure to properly supervise.

However, just because a supervisor has never been a handler does not automatically mean he will be a poor supervisor. In fact, some K9 supervisors who have never been handlers become outstanding K9 supervisors. They have embraced the supervisory opportunity and given it their all. They attend training at least twice a month, and they attend as many supervisor schools as they can so that they can learn to be the best supervisor possible.

In addition to a K9 supervisor frequently attending the weekly training sessions, it is paramount that they review all the written training documentation, deployment logs, and bite reports. To review K9 documentation, a K9 supervisor must understand terminology and jargon to have a clear perception of what is occurring. Mere paper shuffling is meaningless, and inadequate supervision will be revealed quickly during a deposition with attorneys who will be looking for such weaknesses during a lawsuit.

Hopefully, I have given you all some information to consider and review to see if your K9 unit is where it should to be. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.


About the Author

Brad Smith retired from the West Covina Police Department in southern California after 30 years of service. Brad was a handler and trainer there for 25 years and a SWAT dog handler for 18 years. Since 1999, Brad has been the national K9 chairman for NTOA and a K9 subject matter expert for the California Association of Tactical Officers. He specializes in field tactics and officer safety.

Brad is a graduate of the California POST Master Instructor Development Program (Class 5), where he designed and implemented a K9 SWAT and K9 patrol tactical school called SKIDDS and CATS. Brad is also the owner of Canine Tactical Operations and Consulting and provides expert K9 witness testimony.

Brad is the author of two books: K9 Tactical Operations for Patrol and SWAT and K9s in the Courtroom. Brad has published over 100 articles for a wide variety of publications on K9 SWAT deployment and training.

Email: Topdogwck1@aol.com


Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.

Sober Apps: New Tools to Help Those in Recovery

Addiction counseling, in-person meetings, new hobbies – all of these activities are used by those in recovery. You can now add smartphone applications (apps) to this list. This technology is now being used by many as a tool to help an individual maintain their recovery. 

Check out a few of the apps* – all free and available to download on both iPhones and Androids – below:


Connections App

The Addiction Policy Forum teamed up with CHESS Health to launch Connections. According to their website, this app supports patients in recovery by reducing relapse and promoting pro-social engagement. 

Through the app, you can track your sobriety, message trained counselors, receive clinical support, and much more.

Learn how you can download the app.



The IAmSoberApp is an ad-free motivational companion app that tracks sobriety (milestones, how much money saved and more).  In addition, the app reminds users to commit to staying sober through daily pledges, and allows them to document their activities throughout the day (making them aware of any possible triggers).

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.thehungrywasp.iamsober&hl=en_US

iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/al/app/i-am-sober-sobriety-counter/id672904239?mt=8

Sober Grid

Sober Grid is an app that connects individuals in recovery. Its features include: a “Burning Desire” button, which someone can press to let friends on the app know when they‘re facing temptation and need help; a GPS locator that can connect you to nearby app users and more.

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sobergrid&hl=en
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sober-grid-sober-social-network/id912632260?mt=8

Sober Tool 

This app, developed by a certified alcohol and drug counselor, focuses on preventing a person in recovery from relapsing. Some of the materials the app includes are related to mindfulness training, 12 step practice, stress reduction techniques and more.

Google Play:
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sobertool-alcoholism-addiction/id863872931?mt=8

Nomo – Sobriety Clocks 

This app, created by two people in recovery, tracks the number of days a an individual has been sober. In addition, a person can track the money saved by not buying drugs, share milestones on Twitter and Facebook, and share their sober clock with others. The app also includes exercises to help refocus the person in recovery when he or she is feeling tempted.

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.parkerstech.day&hl=en
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nomo-sobriety-clocks/id566975787?mt=8

Sober Time – Sobriety Counter

Similar to “Nomo,” this app helps individuals in recovery track their sober days, see how much money they’ve saved by not buying drugs, share progress with others, and more. This app also offers daily motivational messages to its users.

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sociosoft.sobertime&hl=en
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sober-time-sobriety-counter/id1158895079?mt=8


Important note: These apps should be used in addition to a professional treatment program. If your loved one is battling addiction, please also take/refer them to a facility. Get started here.

*The inclusion of these links on this website does not constitute an official endorsement, guarantee, or approval by Drug Enforcement Administration.


Join the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association and proudly display your support for your local law enforcement and Missouri sheriffs.
Your tax-deductible contribution will go a long way to ensure the office of Sheriff in Missouri remains a strong, independent office answerable to those citizens that it is sworn to serve and protect.