Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss Officer Safety Initiative

Project Summary 

The National Police Foundation developed a voluntary and anonymous reporting system that enables law enforcement personnel to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses.” A near miss is defined as a situation where a law enforcement officer could have been seriously injured or killed, but harm or death was averted. Each near miss incident provides lessons learned to protect other officers who encounter similar situations, but only if the incident was reported and shared. Our mission is to enable and encourage law enforcement personnel to share their near miss experiences so the lessons learned from them can be used by other officers and incorporated systematically into agencies’ training, policy, and equipment decisions to prevent injuries and fatalities.

 

Methodology

The Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss system is modeled after successful near miss reporting systems used in other high-risk industries, particularly the Aviation Safety Reporting System used extensively in U.S. commercial aviation. The system provides verified law enforcement professionals with access to a database of reported near miss incidents and the lessons learned from them. It also enables them to easily and anonymously submit their own near miss experiences. The LEO Near Miss system captures many incident characteristics for each near miss submission, including call type, environmental conditions, suspect characteristics, number of officers on scene at the time of the incident, etc. The National Police Foundation’s research team subsequently analyzes the submitted near miss data to identify trends and common characteristics of near miss incidents to identify and recommend preventative strategies agencies can take to improve officer safety.

 

Implications

Prior to the launch of the LEO Near Miss system, the law enforcement profession did not have any national near miss reporting system capable of collecting near miss incidents and disseminating lessons learned to law enforcement officers across the country. With the LEO Near Miss system operational, all law enforcement officers now have access to an archive of institutional knowledge that can improve officer safety systematically, as opposed to near miss incidents predominantly affecting only those involved in the incidents. The practice of learning from near misses and addressing safety deficiencies prior to any injury or fatality occurring is a fundamental component of a safety culture, and law enforcement must build a stronger safety culture to have a significant impact on officer injuries and fatalities.

 

Project Website

Funding & Collaboration

This project is supported by award numbers 2019-CK-WX-0015 and 2016-CKWX-K021 from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The LEO Near Miss system is endorsed by Below 100, the National Tactical Officers Association, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Major Cities Chiefs Association, International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards & Training, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

 

Points of Contact

Brett Cowell
Senior Project Associate
National Police Foundation
bcowell@policefoundation.org
(202) 833-1471

 

Keywords

law enforcement officer near miss, LEO near miss, near miss, close call, lessons learned, mistakes, officer safety, officer wellness, training, anonymous reporting, equipment, training, patterns, critical incident, failure, crisis, fatality, line of duty