Editor’s Note: The crew of CopBlue is pleased have LEO NEAR MISS as our partner. Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows cops to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses,” which provide lessons learned that can protect fellow officers in similar situations.
One article will be featured each month to share with the CopBlue family of Street Cops. We believe this is just another way that we can expand our effort to, ‘Save just ONE life.’ Please join us and welcome LEO Near Miss to the CopBlue family.
I observed a suspicious vehicle driving slowly through several alleys. I followed the vehicle briefly and obtained PC for a traffic stop.
I approached and spoke with the sole occupant: a white male driver. He gave me his DL and insurance. He seemed extremely nervous. I went back to my car to check his DL while maintaining observation on the driver, who began to move about in the front passenger area.
I learned he was a parolee, so I decided to search him, which is allowed under case law. I approached him and observed him stuffing Hostess apple pies into his mouth. I thought he was swallowing drugs.
At that time, he refused commands to exit the vehicle. He stepped on the accelerator and the RPMs raced into the red on the car’s tachometer.
I decided to try and pull him from the vehicle, but the door handle was locked. However, the driver’s window was all the way down. I considered reaching into the vehicle to turn off the ignition.
I had a moment of clear thought and, remembered that not less than a couple of months prior, a trooper had been dragged to his death when fighting / reaching into a car. At that moment, I jumped back as the driver dropped it into gear and sped off.
Had the trooper’s tragedy not occurred previously, I honestly believe I would have reached into the open window right as the driver was trying to speed off. As a side note, other officers found him later, and he ended up back in prison.
I later learned he was already on parole for aggravated fleeing and eluding.
- Before deciding to take a traffic stop to another level (e.g. conducting a search or asking the operator to exit), request backup and wait for their arrival, if possible. Once backup arrives, discuss what you intend to do and who has what responsibilities.
- Never reach into a vehicle when the driver has the ability to accelerate in an attempt to flee. Avoid “apprehension” tunnel vision, which clouds officer safety decisions. Making the apprehension is important, but recognize there are instances where you need to pause and evaluate the risk versus benefit. Too many times, officers are dragged by fleeing vehicles.
- It is especially noteworthy that knowledge of a prior LODD from similar circumstances directly affected the involved my decision-making and the actions I took. That decision may well have saved my life.
- Agencies, trainers, and individual officers should constantly strive to study and learn from past tragedies, injuries, and near misses to improve officer safety in similar situations in the future.
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
If you would like to read more stories like this one, please visit LEOnearmiss.org. We also ask that you consider sharing any near misses you have experienced. The five minutes you take to share your story can save the life of a brother or sister in blue.
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LEO Near Miss Overview
Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a voluntary, non-disciplinary officer safety initiative that allows cops to read about and anonymously share stories of close calls or “near misses,” which provide lessons learned that can protect fellow officers in similar situations.
A near miss is defined as any incident that could have resulted in a law enforcement officer being seriously injured or killed if not for a fortunate break in the chain of events. Near misses oftentimes include contributing factors like hazardous conditions, subjects with concealed weapons, failed equipment, or lapses in situational awareness.
Regardless of the situation, they provide lessons learned, and reporting a near miss allows fellow officers to learn from these incidents so they can go home to their loved ones after every shift. Officers often share their near misses with their close friends, but rarely are these stories, and the lessons learned from them, shared with officers across the country. LEO Near Miss provides a secure way for cops to share this vital information.
LEO Near Miss is strictly for promoting peer learning and enhancing officer safety and wellness. Officers can visit LEOnearmiss.org or download the free smartphone app (LEO Near Miss), read the lessons learned from near misses experienced by other officers, and anonymously share their own near-miss experiences.
Near-miss stories submitted to LEO Near Miss go directly to the Police Foundation (www.PoliceFoundation.org), an independent, non-profit research and training organization that manages the system in partnership with other national organizations like Below 100, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the Officer Down Memorial Page, and the National Tactical Officers Association. Each story received undergoes a two-stage review process by current and former law enforcement to remove all personally identifying information (ensuring anonymity when published) and to highlight important takeaways for improving officer safety.
Once a story has finished the review process (about 7-10 days), any personally identifying information is permanently deleted from our records, and the story is made available for vetted law enforcement personnel to access on the LEO Near Miss website and smartphone app. Furthermore, no IP addresses are ever tracked or linked to any stories submitted to the system, and officers do not need to log in to submit a story.
Please support this critical officer safety initiative by reading and sharing the near-miss stories and lessons learned that your fellow officers have shared, and please consider sharing your own near-miss experiences at LEOnearmiss.org or through our free smartphone app. The five minutes you take to share your story can save the life of a brother or sister in blue.