MADD Underage Drinking


Teens have more power than they might think when it comes to saying no to alcohol or other drugs. Power of You(th)® is one of three key programs in MADD’s underage drinking and drug prevention initiative. MADD also offers a teen booklet designed to offer teens tools to resist peer pressure and empower them to take the next step and influence their peers to make the right choices.

MADD’s Power of Parents® program empowers parents of middle school and high school students to have ongoing, intentional conversations about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and marijuana use. The parent handbooks are the cornerstone of this community-based program and available in both English and Spanish. They are free to communities on MADD’s website and through 15 – and 30 – minute parent workshops facilitated by trained MADD staff, volunteers, and community partners.



Kathleen Dias on the threats facing rural officers in 2022


A champion of rural law enforcement, Dias is working to document violence against LEOs serving in rural and remote locations


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

Policing is hard work, but when working in an urban environment, backup is usually relatively close by. Other resources like fire and EMS are only a few minutes away as well. 

In rural settings, things are very different. Back-up may be miles away – and we are talking country miles away – so too are other resources. Even a quick trip to book a prisoner or process evidence may take an hour or more.

Is it more dangerous to be a cop in a rural setting? Find out from today’s guest, Kathleen Dias, who is returning to Policing Matters to talk about her project looking at officers killed in the line of duty, with an emphasis on incidents specifically in rural settings.

Kathleen Dias writes features and news analysis on topics of concern to law enforcement professionals serving in rural and remote locations. She uses her background in writing, teaching and marketing to advocate for professional levels of training and equipment for rural officers, open channels of communication for isolated departments, and dispel myths about rural policing. Follow Kathleen’s The Rural Badge blog and on Facebook.


This episode of the Policing Matters Podcast is sponsored by the Master of Science in Law Enforcement & Public Safety Leadership Program at the University of San Diego. Learn how this nationally ranked online program can help you be a force for change at


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


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.

Everything You Need To Know About Distracted Driving

Would you drive a distance equivalent to an entire length of an American football field at 55 mph (89 km/h) blindfolded?

Even though many people will answer the question above with an empathic no, the reality is that most of us do exactly that when we text while driving. Consequently, in the United States, approximately eight people die every day in car crashes involving distracted driving.

Indeed, phones have an essential and valuable function in cars, from providing maps, driving directions, podcasts, music, and emergency calls, but they can also be a menace that could potentially lead to chaos on the roads.

To create consciousness around the dangers of distracted driving, this article focuses on the consequences of distracted driving and how simple solutions can alleviate the situation. It emphasizes the reality that distracted driving does not only involve using the mobile phone while driving but also other factors like eating, engaging passengers, or changing the dials on the car radio. 


What Counts as Distracted Driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”

The NHTSA is an agency of the US federal government under the Department of Transportation. It defines its mandate: “Through enforcing vehicle performance standards and partnerships with state and local governments, NHTSA reduces deaths, injuries and economic losses from motor vehicle crashes.” 

From the NHTSA definition above, it’s clear that while cell phones are a major contributor to distracted driving, they are not the only culprits.


Types of Distractions

distracted driving looking down

The website that provides tools and resources for financial planning,, identifies four types of distracted driving, all of which can lead to potentially fatal consequences:

Cognitive distractions:Happen when your mind drifts away from the activity of driving. Such interruptions can include daydreaming or being too upset to concentrate on the task of driving.

Visual distractions:Take your eyes off the road and make you momentarily sidetracked and stop looking ahead on the road. Sometimes people get involved in accidents while watching scenes of other accidents on the road.

Auditory distractions:Include voices or sounds that attract your concentration and shift your attention from safe driving. They also include holding conversations in the car or even listening to music.

Manual distractions:Involve taking your hands or one of your hands off the wheel to perform a non-driving activity such as taking a sip from a drink, eating, or using an electronic device.

Do all types of distractions bear the same amount of risk?

Experts indicate that while all types of distractions significantly increase the risk of a car crash, some increase the risk more than others. For instance, a distraction such as texting, which requires a combination of cognitive, visual, and manual resources, would make a car crash 23 times more likely to happen.


Distracted Driving by the Numbers 

The NHTSA reports that distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019. Here are some distracted driving statistics showing how bad the problem is:

Cellphone Use

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports that out of the 220 million Americans that subscribe to wireless services, an estimated “80% of those subscribers use their phones while driving.”

Texting while driving is particularly fatal, at least as far as statistics are concerned. Suppose the estimates from the NCSL are accurate. In that case, it doesn’t come as a surprise that approximately 400 fatal car accidents every year are directly attributed to simultaneous texting and driving.

Teenage Drivers and Number of Passengers

Two key risk factors drive the number of fatal accidents caused by distracted driving: age and number of passengers.  

In a research note published in April 2020, the NHTSA indicates that “Eight percent of drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted.” It adds, “This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes.”  

The second risk factor is the number of passengers. The chances of a teenage driver getting killed in a car crash increase with every additional passenger in the car, up to 44% with one passenger, doubling when there are two passengers, and quadrupling when there are three or more passengers.

Therefore, it can be suggested that reducing the number of passengers in a car driven by a teenager could significantly reduce the number of fatal crashes.

Distracted Driving Deaths

Even though we focus on drivers and their passengers, distracted driving kills many non-occupants, including cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. For instance, the NHTSA reports that in 2019, distracted drivers were involved in the deaths of 566 non-occupants.

Statistics show that males are involved in more fatal accidents related to distracted driving than females. The NHTSA notes that “Sixty-nine percent of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were males as compared to 73 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes in 2019.”


Behaviors Related to Distracted Driving

 girl taking driving test

Driving demands a significant portion of our mental resources. Research indicates that it places a huge demand on our cognitive abilities, such as our vision and motor skills and our visual-spatial orientation and integration functions.

In driving, mental resources are required to monitor other cars on the same road, process signs and traffic rules, and make quick cognitive decisions.

While cellphone use is possibly the most common distracting behavior, a few more common behaviors also comprise distracted driving: eating, drinking, and smoking.

Other behaviors include intricate conversations with passengers, grabbing items from the back seat, applying makeup, focusing too much on the rearview mirror, fiddling around with GPS or navigation systems, and using electronic devices in the car.

Distractions and related behaviors also use the same mental resources needed for safe driving. An activity such as texting or turning to have a quick conversation with a passenger significantly limits the required alertness for safe driving, even if it takes mere seconds.


The Consequences of Distracted Driving

car accident on a highway

Death is, of course, the most extreme consequence of distracted driving. Families are left to rue the loss of their loved ones, their breadwinners, and other important individuals in their communities. Others have their lives permanently altered or have to remain in special care for the rest of their lives.

Kira Hudson, a victim of crashes caused by distracted driving, tells a story that puts a human face to distracted driving. She talks about how she was left to endure pain, deep regret, and even anger after two accidents involving distracted driving.

Hudson says she was arguing with her boyfriend on the phone while driving. A series of incidents lead to her crashing the car while still holding her phone. She is quoted saying, “It doesn’t look like it, but I was very fortunate in my crash.” She adds, “I’m still here today. I didn’t hurt anyone else. If I would have hurt someone, I don’t think I would have had the same outlook as I do now.”

You can watch Hudson tell her story in the video below.

How to Be Hands-Free While Driving

The best solution to avoid distracted driving is to focus solely on the task of driving. Of course, this is easier said than done, but if you listen to stories such as the one told by Hudson above, you will know that being disciplined enough to concentrate on the task of safe driving could save lives.

man sitting in a car with infotainment systems

To deal with the challenge of distracted driving, many automobile manufacturers now integrate Bluetooth technology into the car’s infotainment systems. After an initial setup, these systems automatically connect with your cellphone as soon as you enter the car, allowing you to control the phone’s functions without holding the phone in your hand while driving.

A few other aftermarket products are available that significantly reduce the amount of distraction. One good option is to get a cup holder phone mount.

Other products like the car air vent phone holder provide the best angle because you can adjust the phone mount part 360 degrees. This means that you don’t have to adjust your driving position at any time while you’re using the phone for tasks like navigation.

Here are some more tips on using your cellphone while driving:

  • Before you begin driving, set up everything you need, like navigation, GPS, and your entertainment system.
  • If you are not alone, always designate someone to text or make and receive calls on your behalf.
  • Avoid text messaging at all costs, even if it means placing your phone in the trunk of your car before you start driving.
  • When it’s safe to do so, pull over for serious or important calls that demand your total concentration.


Be Always Alert to Arrive Alive

Remember, no phone call or message is more important than your life or the lives of passengers and other road users. If that phone call has to be made, find a safe place to stop your vehicle and make the call or send the message without unnecessarily exposing yourself and others to danger.


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.

Operation Survival NY2022: Key Tips for Staying Safe in the New Year

By Warren Wilson for

Well, 2021 certainly was another challenging year. There’s no reason to think 2022 will be any easier. We should probably hope for the best while preparing for the status quo.

I suggest a two-pronged approach to surviving 2022: safety and peace of mind. Over the past year, we’ve given the reader items or activities that we believe are good investments of your money or your time.

The following is a blended list of things we believe will help you get the new year started off right.  

The author strongly believes hobbies are the key to emotional fitness for law enforcement officers.
The author strongly believes hobbies are the key to emotional fitness for law enforcement officers. (Photo/Warren Wilson)


Traditional officer safety is well covered elsewhere. I’d like to address some unconventional aspects of safety for law enforcement officers working in today’s world.

The first recommendation is an investment in your physical health. The average age of heart attack for the general population is 67 years of age. For career law enforcement officers, that number is 49. Since we are many more times more likely to die from heart disease than a line of duty death, my first suggestion is a gym membership. This requires a small investment in time and money, but your most precious asset is your heartbeat.  

Police 1 resource: How to maintain adequate LEO physical fitness


The vilification of law enforcement hasn’t only threatened the physical safety of law enforcement officers but also our financial security. Bills have been introduced in various jurisdictions around the country to cut police retirements, end qualified immunity and rob funds from agencies that would and have resulted in layoffs.

Like your physical health, your financial health is also in jeopardy. Law enforcement retirement plans are complicated and since most of us who are on a pension plan are not allowed to participate in social security (no matter how much we contributed prior to our cop careers), we need financial expertise from someone who understands law enforcement retirement plans.

Police1 resource: Your pension plan shouldn’t be your only retirement plan


It’s difficult to focus on your own safety while at work when you’re worried about your family at home. I suggest you spend a little time and money on your home’s physical security.

Many of these improvements come at little or no cost. For example, replacing the screws in your deadbolt lock from what comes with the unit to three-inch versions will vastly increase your security for a matter of pennies.

The days of spending thousands on a monitored alarm/surveillance system for your home are all but over. There are many Internet-based options that will protect your entire home for a fraction of the cost. The one I use allows me to add sensors and cameras one at a time if I wish, which gives me the financial flexibility to build the system over time.

Police1 resource: 6 steps to making your home your castle


Ensuring your family is set up for emergency preparedness is a must. While most folks are sent home from their jobs during a catastrophe, cops don’t have that luxury. In fact, we are more likely to be required to be at work for long periods of time after a disaster; be it natural or manmade.

Ready.Gov and FEMA have some helpful information on how to achieve preparedness and even a downloadable PDF guide. Get informed and be prepared so you can worry less about what’s going on at home while you’re on the front line of your jurisdiction’s next disaster.  


I believe the first step to emotional safety and fitness is turning work off at the door. For me, that means not watching the news. There’s no way to avoid the big stories, of course, but there’s nothing in the national news cycle that gives me hope or peace of mind. Engage in hobbies that have nothing to do with your job. It doesn’t matter if it’s horseback riding, hiking, driving trails, running or whatever. Just find something that gets your mind off your work.

My next suggestion is to turn off negativity. Avoid conversations about all the terrible things about your work, whether on the local or national level. There is solid research that indicates the more negative thoughts you engage in, the more negative you’ll feel long-term. Focus on the positives in your life and at your work. And don’t be afraid to seek mental health assistance occasionally, even if you’re feeling well.   

Police1 resource: Why your off-duty life is important for stress management   


We really don’t have much control over what New Year 2022 will bring. We do, however, have control over how it affects us and our quality of life. Happy New Year, brothers and sisters.


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.

A Letter to the American Public: Law Enforcement Officers Cannot Read Minds

Article by Deputy Chief Kyle Sumpter for

When asked to predict an assailant’s intent, officers can only guess, based on articulable observations compared with experience. In July 2021 intent became an explicit requirement for Washington state peace officers in their calculus for responding with deadly force. [1] A few other jurisdictions require or teach something similar. 

Intent is part of the A.O.I. triad:

  • Ability: Having the means to seriously injure someone; having superior strength, exceptional skill, greater numbers, or a weapon.
  • Opportunity: Being within the means’ effective range; having weapon-specific proximity; being close enough to use the ability to seriously injure someone.
  • Intent: Is the person displaying, using or threatening with their ability (i.e., weapon) in a manner that puts another person’s safety in jeopardy?  Some use “jeopardy” here in place of intent; others use “motive.”   
It is the unpredictable nature of human behavior that makes dealing with people so complex.
It is the unpredictable nature of human behavior that makes dealing with people so complex. (Photo/Kyle Sumpter)

Some under-informed people have suggested this A.O.I. requirement means law enforcement officers must know a person’s intention is immediately dangerous before the officer can shoot. Other inexperienced people claim LEOs need confirmation of a threatening person’s intent. Or worse, certainty.  

These notions are seriously flawed because no one can be certain of another person’s intentions. Teaching law enforcement officers (LEOs) that there is a requirement to know or be certain of another’s intent is impetuously dangerous to the innocent people LEOs should protect, as well as to the protectors themselves.


Ascertaining another person’s intent is derived from outward signals within contextual cues. That would be difficult enough, but it is extra complex due to the presence of false signals. Some false signals are inadvertent. Others are insidiously intentional. 

A moving automobile’s “blinker” is, literally, a signal of the driver’s intent to turn or change lanes in the direction of the signal. When you observe a vehicle traveling ahead of you in a neighboring lane and that car’s blinker is on, indicating an intended lane change, it is reasonable for you to infer the driver intends to change lanes. Then, when you give them space to move into your lane and the other car does not change lanes into the available space, it is reasonable to change your conclusion and infer the other driver is oblivious that their blinker is on. However, it is equally likely that the other driver wants to make the maneuver and fully intends to, but they are an extra cautious neophyte and will not change lanes until there is much more space available. From where you sit in your own car, it is impossible for you to know the other driver’s actual, subjective intent.

Continuing the example, as a driver you might have committed an unintended error by signaling left when you meant to turn right. Or you intended to turn right, signaled that direction, and then changed your mind at the last second and continued straight. Dealing with criminals involves similar complexities when law enforcement officers attempt to decipher intent.

Every time an athlete “jukes” an opposing player, that is an example of faked intention to gain an advantage. 

Every sudden and unexpected attack launches from a pad of hidden or counterfeit intentions. In “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu wrote that “the whole secret [to winning] lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.” [2] This principle illustrates the need to disguise or conceal one’s intentions when contemplating an attack to maintain a degree of surprise.

Surprise is one of the nine principles of successful tactical operations, from large missions to sudden gunfights between two individuals. Dangerous, fearless assailants seem to innately understand this concept. They execute deception and surprise effectively against law enforcement officers, or overseas in military settings, and against each other or innocent victims wherever they are. The element of surprise is accomplished by concealing true intentions. 


With someone who is contemplating a crime or tactical maneuver, their true intentions are often intentionally disguised. In special cases, LEOs sometimes use a ruse to achieve surprise when arresting a dangerous person. A ruse is based on the concept of feigning our intentions. We use a ruse to take an unsuspecting person into custody before they have an opportunity to realize what’s really happening, which minimizes their opportunity to resist, which protects everyone involved. A ruse is, therefore, a de-escalation tool when used by LEOs.

Human predators use ruses to mask their evil intentions. Monetary scammers and serial killers are very skilled at using ruses to lure their victims into feeling safe before being victimized.


Law enforcement officers cannot know another person’s subjective intent. Therefore, it is foolish to assert that LEOs must know the other person’s intent before LEOs can take action to protect themselves or others from serious injury.

Law enforcement officers cannot read minds and we cannot see the future. The best we can do is observe and draw conclusions from those observations. Conclusions are inferences. Inferring a person’s intent is an exercise in educated guessing. Even when we guess right, people can and sometimes do suddenly change their minds.

“Taking what the defense gives you” and other adjustments made by athletes and teams during sports competition are examples of intentions changing mid-action.

It is the unpredictable nature of human behavior that makes dealing with people so complex.

Consider the subject’s intent in the following pictures. Assume it’s a robbery suspect being contacted by uniformed LEOs. Officers identified themselves as police and told the man he is under arrest. Is he actually surrendering in each of these photographs, or is he buying time to resist or flee?

Photos/Kyle Sumpter

The answer is, we don’t know. It’s impossible to know what he will do. We can guess, based on articulable observations, compared with our experience. But that’s as good as it gets.    


As with any guessing game we often have clues that help us infer another person’s intent. When those hints occur outside of ourselves and they are recordable or describable, we call them objective factors. When others agree with our inferences based on our description of observed and known facts, our conclusions are said to be reasonable.

Perfection is impossible, so perfect understanding is not the standard. Being objectively reasonable is the best we can hope for when guessing in the moment, even if hindsight later reveals some inferences were wrong.

A person’s underlying intentions are purely subjective, existing only in the person’s mind. I’ll say it again for emphasis: police officers cannot read minds. Police officers can only respond to what the person says and does, based on the context of the unique situation – the totality of its circumstances. The assailant’s actions and words, combined with the assailant’s previous behaviors that are known to the officer at the time, are among the objective factors. 


Reasonable suspicion is an amount of information based on objective factors. It is less information than probable cause. Probable cause is more information than reasonable suspicion and less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. After many months – sometimes years – of detective work, the best information we can hope for in the criminal courtroom is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Of all these, the best we can hope for in the field is probable cause to believe something.

Within the context of law enforcement field situations, especially in a review or discussion about knowing another person’s intentions, certainty does not exist. Having absolute certainty is one of the rare concepts about which we should say, “we never have that.” Even with eyewitness testimony, including when the LEO sees it with their own eyes, certainty is an impossible standard.

After careful deliberation, when all the facts are supposedly known with the clarity of hindsight, certainty is not required for a criminal conviction. We cannot expect an officer to have certainty in the field, especially when they are under the duress of a dangerous moment when the information of that moment is under-developed and the action is unfolding.

Probable cause, which is based on objective factors, is the viable standard. Justification for responding with deadly force is probable cause to believe there is an imminent threat of serious physical harm. [3]

When an involved officer is asked about the assailant’s intentions, one way of answering that is by articulating what the officer had probable cause to believe. For example, “Based on all those objective factors, I had probable cause to believe the assailant was about to [stab the innocent person].”

Another way of answering is by describing the officer’s inferences. For instance, “Based on the objective factors I just described, I inferred the assailant was about to [stab the innocent person].”


A man brandishes a handgun while robbing a bank. Investigators identify the man within hours. He is a convicted felon, known to the local police department. Bank surveillance photographs and a recent booking photograph are included in a BOLO bulletin to all uniformed police officers.  

The next morning, uniformed patrol officers on foot locate the man lurking behind a business about a mile from the robbed bank. He is wearing the same clothes pictured in the robbery bulletin. A bulky sweatshirt covers the suspect’s waist. His hands are empty when officers contact him with their weapons drawn. Based on field experience LEOs know the waistband is where weapons are frequently carried.

When officers initiate contact the separation distance is approximately 25 feet. The officers verbally identify themselves as police officers and tell the suspect that he is under arrest for robbery. The suspect looks directly at the officers and says, “Oh, hell no!” as he reaches quickly under his sweatshirt to the front of his concealed waistband.

Because of their training, the officers know that once the assailant’s gun is in his hand it only takes a quarter-second to point and fire it at the officers. Whereas, it takes officers a third to a half-second to observe and mentally process (perceive) what is happening. It takes the officers another quarter second (at best) to enact a response. This lag time by the officers is called “the reactionary gap.” [4]

Within this context, the combination of the suspect’s history and his current words and actions, understood through the officers’ training and experience, gives officers probable cause to believe the suspect is initiating a deadly assault. The officers do not have – nor will they ever have – knowledge or certainty of the robber’s intent. To wait and see what happens next would be naïve, foolish, and increase the presently grave danger to the officers. Waiting increases the officers’ risk of being seriously injured or killed. Hesitation and delay at this moment would subject the officers’ lives purely to the vagaries of chance. Unfortunately, chance (luck) has no favorites.

Probable cause – not knowledge or certainty of the assailant’s intent – is the moment to respond. [5] The suspect’s history, words, and present actions give the officers probable cause to believe their lives are in jeopardy the moment the robber reaches under his sweatshirt toward his waistband. The suspect’s objective behavior creates an immediate necessity for officers to shoot the assailant in order to protect themselves from a reasonably perceived, present threat of serious injury.


When a law enforcement officer faces an immediate threat of deadly resistance, in that moment the assailant’s subjective intent is irrelevant. To enter an intellectual analysis in that moment could be tragic. The appropriate time for addressing the legal requirement of “intent” is in conceptual discussions later. At the time of resistance, the basis for action is what the officer has probable cause to believe at that moment, based on objective factors. It is also in those terms that we may confidently describe the assailant’s intent after the dust settles.


1. Washington ESSHB 1310, Section 3(1)(b) “A peace officer may use deadly force against another person only when…(i): “…a person has the present and apparent ability, opportunity, and intent to immediately cause death or serious bodily injury to the peace officer or another person.”

2. Tzu-Sun. The Art of War.

3. Patrick UW, Hall JC. In Defense of Self and Others… Carolina Academic Press, 2nd ed., October 1, 2010, footnote on page 63.

4. This is a reference to timing. Another use of this term refers to space – the amount of distance between officers and the person they are dealing with. Spatial gaps convert into timing references. Generally, the farther away the officers stand, the more time they have to react to a non-firearm attack.

5. That doesn’t mean these officers must shoot. All shooting by LEOs is discretionary.

RELATED: Washington’s new laws tie the hands of law enforcement officers


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.

On Demand Webinar: An NYPD Veteran’s Perspective on Why Autonomy Matters for First Responders

Drones can be a great way to help first responders to be more effective at their jobs. Public safety drones can enhance situational awareness for responding officers while keeping them safe, improving accuracy when documenting crime and collision scenes, increasing transparency and promoting accountability. Nonetheless, safely operating manual drones in dense urban environments with tall buildings and changing terrains can be a tall order for even the most skilled pilots.During this webinar, Deepu John, retired Detective from NYPD shares his experience while scaling the program to over 30 pilots, and his perspective on the benefits that Skydio and autonomy are bringing to first responders, such as safer navigation, reductions in training burden, technology synergies from the Skydio / Axon strategic partnership, and Skydio’s commitment to responsible use of drone technology through our partnership with DRONERESPONDERS and the Five Cs. Watch this on-demand webinar and witness first-hand how public safety operations are enhanced by the use of drones across multiple simulated missions.Speakers for this webinar are:

  • Deepu John, NYPD Detective (ret.)
  • Alex Netto, Product Marketing Manager, Skydio

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.

Northeast Coalition for Roadway Safety Works to Change Habits

The Northeast Coalition for Roadway Safety has partnered with a local radio station to feature testimonies of people whose lives have been forever changed as a result of a car crash in hopes of getting people to have safe driving habits.

Our first testimony is our very own Deana Dothage, First Impact Coordinator and a member of the NE Coalition since its inception.

Deana has not shared her personal story publicly until recently, and we are very grateful for her willingness to do so now. 

Please feel free to share on your social media pages, as well.  Thank you for your help to continue to reduce fatalities on Missouri roads.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety (MCRS) exists to end fatalities and serious injuries on Missouri roadways by advocating for the prioritization and implementation of proven safety strategies. Through cooperative efforts in education, public policy, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical services, we encourage all Missourians to take an active role in making our roadways safe for everyone.

Founded in 2004, the MCRS is responsible for developing and implementing the state’s strategic highway safety plan (SHSP). Show-Me Zero is Missouri’s fifth edition SHSP and will serve as the state’s plan from 2021-2025.

The purpose of the SHSP is to identify the core issues contributing to severe crashes in Missouri and to identify strategies to mitigate these concerns.

A statewide group of individuals from multiple disciplines has worked together to develop Show-Me Zero. In addition, feedback was solicited from hundreds of additional stakeholders throughout the state. This document represents a consensus on the primary actions Missouri can take during the next five years to reduce traffic fatalities.

Understanding success requires contributions from everyone, the group strived to include relevant strategies for all Missourians. 

To support implementation of the SHSP, the MCRS is represented by locally focused regional coalitions as well as several issue-specific subcommittees. Together, the regional coalitions and subcommittees work to promote implementation of SHSP strategies at both the state and local levels.

Some strategies are as simple as an individual committing to better choices, while others require changes to policies and procedures. Achieving the ultimate goal of zero traffic fatalities will require contributions from all of us. Thus, this plan is for all Missourians.


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.

5 Ways Law Enforcement Can Improve Officer Traffic Safety

Story By Sarah Calams for Police1

In July, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund released its mid-year report on officer fatalities. In the report, which tracks duty deaths and other statistics relevant to policing, the NLEOMF found a significant increase in traffic fatalities. In fact, in the first half of 2021, there was a 58% increase in traffic fatalities – a number that has already surpassed all struck-by deaths in 2020.

As part of the Destination Zero Officer Safety and Wellness Conference, which was held virtually this year during National Police Week due to COVID-19 concerns, Lt. James Preston, with the Harris County (Texas) Constable’s Office Precinct #5, a 2021 Destination Zero National Officer Safety and Wellness Officer Traffic Safety Award Winner, breaks down the changes his agency made to achieve an 89% decrease in crashes on Priority One calls over two years thanks to the agency’s Officer Traffic Safety Program.

Preston’s department, he said, took a data-driven approach to improving officer traffic safety.

“We started to go through the data and look at line of duty crashes. We found that the majority of our at-fault crashes were from deputies in their first three years on the job,” he said. “Many of our line of duty crashes were under emergency driving conditions. We found an overwhelming number of our crashes were happening at intersections and [officers] were under stress while having to make their decisions behind the wheel of the car.”

The department’s Officer Traffic Safety Program, Preston said, hits close to home as two of three of the agency’s line of duty deaths were struck-by deaths. “We lost Capt. Jerry Foster and Deputy Jason Norling after they were struck by passing vehicles,” he said. “A lot of what we’ve done here is in honor of their service and sacrifice.”

After analyzing the data, Preston said the department identified five ways they could enhance officer traffic safety and accountability. Below we break down how they achieved this.


To improve officer traffic safety, the department implemented a driving simulator program.

“When we started looking at how officers were being trained, we focused heavily on decision-making behind the wheel, so the driving simulator program was a great thing for that,” Preston said. The driving simulator program focuses on individual issues deputies may be having while operating a motor vehicle.

In the past, they have used the driving simulator program to build intersection drills to work with deputies on decision-making regarding vehicle pursuits for a minor traffic violation. Additionally, they have also included a scenario where a vehicle evades an officer going through a school zone and continues to evade officers going the wrong way down a freeway.

“We want to see our deputies recognize that it’s getting too dangerous … and see if they will terminate the pursuit or continue to follow this person,” Preston said. “Deputies learn how to manage their stress, better deal with decision-making and recognize that the risk may be too high to pursue this person.”

The simulator also allows the department to recreate an event – down to the exact roadway, time of day and weather conditions.


The Below 100 training program focuses on reducing law enforcement-related deaths to below 100 per year. Its five tenants are:

  • Wear your seatbelt.

  • Wear your vest.
  • Watch your speed.
  • WIN: What’s important now?
  • Remember: Complacency kills.

“We customized a lot of this program from stories of our own organization,” Preston said. “We told some of the incidents that we’ve had along with outside agencies here in Texas. It brought a lot of this home to them and made them reevaluate how they were operating a motor vehicle, showing up to work and approaching a lot of the situations they were dealing with on the street.”

Placing Below 100 posters on station doors, Preston said, also reminds deputies of the five tenants before they leave to start their shift. 




The department, Preston said, revamped how deputies were approaching traffic stops, as well as high-risk vehicle stops. Previously, the department’s training program outsourced its training to other organizations and academies. However, Preston said it wasn’t the most cost-effective way, so the department started to internalize its training.

“By developing our own in-house instructors, they became the gift that kept on giving,” he said. “We could take that money that we were saving not having to outsource and send people other places for training and be able to conduct this training by ourselves in-house. And we could roll that money into other projects such as better training our instructors and getting equipment we needed like the driving simulator.”


The department, Preston said, also focused on policy updates for its Priority One video review process.

“We wanted to hold ourselves accountable,” Preston said. “The public expects reasonable decisions and actions on the part of our deputies, and we wanted to make sure we were holding ourselves to that standard.”

They also looked at when deputies could run lights and sirens to a call, which they ultimately concluded needed to be approved by a supervisor.

“Any time I would see a high-risk vehicle stop, I would review the video and look for areas for improvement – not because we wanted to discipline folks – but because we wanted to fine-tune and keep improving the outcomes of these things,” Preston explained.

Moreover, the department implemented a process of conducting workshops and critical incident debriefs.

“The debrief was a good opportunity for our folks to come in, review what it is we were teaching them, what they did on a specific event, and give them the opportunity to take ownership of their actions and decisions and explain it to us – not with the focus of people facing disciplinary action afterwards,” Preston said. “The goal here is enhancing future performance out of our people.”

Overall, Preston said having accountable leadership at every level has helped tremendously.  


To ensure officers were safer while out on the street, Preston said the department updated its fleet, which included a handful of safety enhancements, as well as launching a drone program.

From 2017 to 2020, the department added 70-plus vehicles to its fleet with features like HD cameras and LED lighting. The agency also ensured all officers had high-visibility traffic safety vests so they can be seen on the highway.

“If your feet are on the street, your vest is on your chest,” Preston said.

Before adding these enhancements, Preston said the department looked at its line of duty crash severity. In 2018, the department had around $100,000 in damage estimates to its vehicles alone. And, on average, the officers involved had about 2.9 years of service.

From 2018 to 2020, the department was able to bring:

  • At-fault fleet costs down 50.38%
  • Non-fault fleet costs down 49.45%
  • At-fault line of duty crashes down 94%

This was accomplished thanks to the officer traffic safety and accountability programs, Preston said. Lastly, the department added a drone program to help during reconstructions of major accidents to keep officers off the roadway for long hours.

Click here to watch all six sessions from the 2021 Destination Zero Conference, which includes other information on cardiac wellness and health screenings, comprehensive officer safety and suicide awareness for law enforcement officers. Skip ahead to 4:26:12 for the session on officer traffic safety.


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.

Why We Must Move ‘Move Over’ Up the Agenda

As law enforcement officers continue to be killed on our nation’s roadways, we must continue to message about the importance of “Move Over” laws. Every state now has move over laws on their books, generally requiring drivers to give a one-lane buffer to stopped emergency vehicles. (Getty Images)


Story By Rob Lawrence for

On Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, emergency services responded to the scene of a vehicle crash on the northbound lanes of Interstate 27 in Lubbock, Texas. While working at the scene, Lieutenant David Hill, another firefighter and a police officer were hit by a passing vehicle.

Lieutenant Hill and the firefighter were immediately transported to the hospital, where Lieutenant Hill passed away from the injuries he sustained. The other firefighter was initially listed in critical condition and the police officer died at the scene.

I thought this tragic event alone was going to be the basis of my move over article and commentary, but sadly this one case is not a one-off. In the first two weeks of 2020, seven first responders were hit and killed while doing their jobs on roadways across the country. 

Sadly, roadway incidents have continued to claim the lives of officers. On October 2, 2021, Memphis police officer Darrell Adams was struck by an 18-wheeler while responding to a crash on the interstate. On October 11, 2021, Sgt. Michael Rudd was killed after he exited his cruiser after a pursuit and was struck by a commercial vehicle in Arizona. 


More than 150 law enforcement officers have been killed since 1997 after being struck by vehicles along America’s highways. Traffic-related incidents, including vehicle crashes, are one of the leading causes of death for law enforcement officers. There are weekly stories of tow truck drivers being struck while engaging in vehicle recovery from our highways. This is all a tragedy and, while I suspect not completely preventable, steps must be taken to reduce risk and ensure the safety of our public safety workforce.

For a sobering view of the sheer number of issues, visit the Facebook page of the National Move Over Day where they collate news stories that demonstrate there is an epidemic of first responder injuries, near misses and deaths on our nation’s roadways.

Every state now has move over laws on their books, generally requiring drivers to give a one-lane buffer to stopped emergency vehicles. These laws require drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles that are displaying flashing lights – including wreckers or utility vehicles displaying flashing lights traveling in the same direction – to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so, or to at least slow down. Some states also include municipal vehicles, utility vehicles and DOT vehicles displaying flashing lights as well. Individual state laws can be found here.

While the laws may be in place to assist with the safety of those who must respond to and on our highways, the death and injury toll keeps rising. The question, therefore, is what we can do?  Before we get to the takeaways, a small examination of crash causation may provide some clues.

  • Distracted driving. Distracted driving is the most common cause of road accidents in the United States. Nine percent of fatal crashes in 2017 were reported as distraction-affected crashes, and every year this surpasses speeding, drunk driving and other major accident causes. Some of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents include using a cellphone while driving. From 2017 data, a total of 434 people died in fatal crashes that involved cell-phone-related activities as distractions.  Additionally, distraction was caused by eating food or drinking from a mug or bottle while behind the wheel. Data from 2017 also indicated there were 599 non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists and others) killed in distraction-affected crashes and, as we know, some of these were first responders.
  • Speed. Motor vehicle accidents that involve speeding are also a major cause of fatal road injuries. Driving above the speed limit is a common practice for many motorists. Even a small increase in speed can result in a much higher risk of being involved in a collision or other type of accident.
  • Intoxication. All 50 states have a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit, above which drivers are driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). For many motorists, even a small amount of alcohol can be enough to produce a significant increase in accident risk.
  • Reckless driving. Speeding, changing lanes without looking, tailgating other motorists and ignoring road signs are all classic signs of reckless driving. It is an illegal driving habit, often performed in combination with DUI, by an intoxicated motorist impatient to get to their destination.
  • Weather. It may not come as a surprise to many readers who have spent their fair share of time responding to highway incidents and accidents, but rain is one of the leading causes of traffic incidents. Wet weather driving risks are often amplified by poor car maintenance, such as tires that don’t provide a deep enough grip or aren’t properly inflated. Because of the safety risks associated with driving in intense rain, it’s important to be alert and aware of road conditions, speed limits and traffic during rainy weather.


As has been said about the opioid crisis – we are not going to arrest our way out of this. The key is education, awareness, constant reinforcement and possibly, stronger legislation of the message:

  • Cell phone laws. Laws to at least keep the eyes off the phone and hands on the wheel do not exist nationwide. Positively, 20 states plus Washington, D.C., do prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Additionally, 36 states and Washington, D.C., ban all cell phone use by newer drivers. There is an opportunity across half the country to at least regulate cell phone use on the move.
  • Increasing punishment. Additionally, the deterrence value of fines and incarceration could be affected via legislative change. Last year, Virginia enhanced the penalties for non-compliance with its existing move-over laws, increasing punishment for drivers who violate the existing VA Move Over law. Before the amendment, the first offense was a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of no more than $250, and a second offense punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The revision made all offenses reckless driving, and therefore a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    The impetus for Virginia’s legislative change came after the tragic death of Fire Lieutenant Brad Clark who was killed, and three other firefighters injured when a driver of a tractor-trailer drove into their fire truck as Clark and his crew assisted other drivers involved in an accident. Virginia’s law change was heroically championed by Lieutenant Clark’s widow, Melanie. From her tragedy came a change, but we should not wait till after the fact to create the conditions to enhance highway safety.

    The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state and territorial highway safety offices that implement federal grant programs to address behavioral highway safety issues, maintains and updates a useful chart that identifies the current move over and distracted driving laws. If your state has a gap in its legislation, perhaps it’s time to lobby for change.


  • Education. Move over law education and enforcement campaigns are regularly delivered across the country (perhaps we could all rally under a National Move Over Day as described above). There are many resources available online to assist departments in creating their campaigns, including NHTSA and the (other) AAA: The American Automobile Association. Additionally, NHTSA administers over $500 million in grant programs annually. NHTSA awards grants for occupant protection, state traffic safety information systems, impaired driving countermeasures, distracted driving, motorcyclist safety, state graduated driver licensing laws and non-motorized safety. 
  • Traffic incident management (TIM). You should be familiar with the traffic incident management process and be a participant. TIM consists of a planned and coordinated multi-disciplinary process to detect, respond to and clear traffic incidents so that traffic flow may be restored as safely and quickly as possible. Effective TIM reduces the duration and impacts of traffic incidents and improves the safety of motorists, crash victims, and emergency responders.

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.

Avoid These 10 Range Habits That Can Get LE Officers Killed

Maintain your level of proficiency through regular practice. (Photo/Tyson Kilbey)


By Duane Wolfe for

What you do consistently will become your habit. The range is a long way from a gunfight, and all too often officers adopt range behaviors that can lead to serious injury or worse. Here are 10 quick tips to improve your abilities in a gunfight and correct a few bad behaviors I have seen in my time on the range.


In order to draw or reload faster, some officers will release one or more of their retention devices to speed up their draw. The Force Science Institute has determined that if you undo a snap it slows you down because you are programmed to follow a certain sequence. When you change that sequence your brain gets confused and works slower. Train the way you fight because you will fight the way you train. If you train with one device deactivated when the fight comes and that device is in place you will be fighting with the holster, rather than with the suspect(s).


All too often shooters are so concerned about putting one bullet on top of the other that they never push themselves to shoot fast enough for a gunfight. A score is nice as a gauge of progress to meet a qualification standard, but qualification and a gunfight are two different worlds.


Disregard the scoring rings, as many of them bear no resemblance to the human body. Work on placing the majority of your rounds in an area about four inches wide from the base of the throat down to the bottom of the sternum. The heart and all of the arteries and veins leading to and from it are concentrated in that area. That is the area you want to hit to stop a suspect quickly. More than likely your target doesn’t have the 10 ring in that area. I have seen targets with the “X” down in the stomach – bad practice, bad training, expect a bad outcome.


Most qualification times are very generous. In a gunfight, officers fire around five rounds per second. If you haven’t trained to shoot and hit at that rate of fire in practice, don’t expect a visit from the ballistic fairy to guide your rounds in a gunfight. Realistic training must include realistic rates of fire.


When your gun goes dry, reload fast every time like your life depends on it (because it does). If you ever find yourself standing with an empty gun and counting the holes in your target, kick yourself. The bad guy probably won’t be showing any bullet holes. If your gun is empty, ammo is your priority.


I’ve lost track of the number of times I have seen shooters freeze up or quit a course of fire when a gun malfunctioned or they fumbled a draw or reload. There are no alibis in a gunfight. Fix the problem and finish the fight even if things don’t go perfectly. There is no such thing as a perfect fight, so train to win regardless of the obstacles that you face. Fine motor skills can deteriorate under stress, prepare for it in your training.


If you always stay in your comfort zone, then you are not training for a fight. A gunfight will be very uncomfortable. You can’t predict the time, the date, location or opponent(s). Push yourself out of your comfort level on the speed of your presentation and your firing rate. Once you find your failure point (the majority of your rounds start going outside the high chest area), slow down, identify the problem and work on fixing it as you continue to speed up.


Practice side stepping on your draw to teach you to get off the line of attack. If you don’t have cover, side step on your reloads. Practice shooting moving sideways, forward and back. If the range you normally practice at won’t allow it, find a different range to train on.


The use of cover or concealment will increase your likelihood of surviving a gunfight. As you approach the site of a call, are you identifying your available cover and concealment? A pre-planned response will be faster than having to do an environmental survey before seeking cover when bullets start to fly. Use cover so that the least amount of you sticks out while you locate and shoot at your threat. Practice using cover at all of the levels: standing, crouching, kneeling and prone. A vertical line of cover is better than a horizontal line of cover because less of your head is exposed. In a gunfight you get what you get, make the most of it.


A range is usually a 180-degree world and, as a result, a lot of training is done using only half of the world. Threats and bullets can come from any direction once you step outside the range. Once you finished shooting, check the world around you before you put your gun away. Draw quickly, holster reluctantly. All too often a scan turns into a fast head whip in all directions. Understand that when you move your head quickly from side to side your vision actually shuts off. When you scan, look carefully for any additional threats. In practice have someone stand and hold up their fingers to show a number between one and five. That way you are always looking with the intent of seeing your environment.

Ammo is cheap, lives are expensive. Maintain your level of proficiency by regular practice.

This article, originally published 11/09/2016, has been updated. 


In February 2014, Duane Wolfe retired from his career as a Minnesota Peace Officer after more than 25 years of service (beginning in 1988). During his career, he served as a patrolman, sergeant, S.R.T., use of force and firearms instructor. He is also a full-time instructor in the Law Enforcement Program at Alexandria Technical and Community College, Alexandria, Minnesota. Duane has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University and a Masters Degree in Education from Southwest State University.