By JIM DeVRIES, MCOLES Board Member
MCOLES offices have moved to the historic Hollister Building in downtown Lansing. The new address is 106 W. Allegan, Suite 600, in Lansing, Zip 48933. Telephone numbers are unchanged. This relocation has provided MCOLES with a spacious location, large enough to accommodate a computer lab and training room.
Since my last message, I am pleased to relate that, at the time of this writing, no Michigan law enforcement officers have perished in the line of duty. As we seek to limit and prevent officer injury and death, it is useful to examine the statistics surrounding these incidents. Historically, in Michigan, many more officers have fallen victim to gunshot attacks than any other type of incident. Despite the obvious implications of this information, more recent data suggests a changing trend. Traffic related incidents now compete with gunfire as the most dangerous component of law enforcement duty.
The most deadly traffic-related threat to officer safety is unquestionably the vehicular pursuit. Conducting a vehicular pursuit exposes the public, the violator and the officer to a great degree of danger. Nationally, the deaths and injuries of officers resulting from vehicular collisions now outnumber those that result from armed confrontations. In the past five years, over 1,700 deaths have resulted from vehicular pursuits. Despite these risks, the nature of law enforcement work often requires officers to engage in pursuits in order to effectively enforce the laws. Operating an emergency vehicle in a pursuit situation involves unique responsibilities and critical decision-making requirements. Officers must rely on their maturity, patience, experience and training while being governed by state law and agency policy.
Recently, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) program was initiated to promote a reduction in the number of deaths and injuries resulting from vehicular pursuits. This is a grant program that will be administered by the International Association of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). This program will provide training to support appropriate law enforcement vehicular pursuit management. The program will provide guidance for officers from the initiation of a vehicular pursuit through its conclusion. In 2009, you can expect to see training opportunities derived from this program in Michigan. As this initiative takes root, I am hopeful it will yield significant results in our state.
On the legislative front, I am very pleased to report that the Michigan Senate has passed House Bill 4611. This bill will designate MCOLES with state authority to implement the retiree provisions of the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) in Michigan. This is the culmination of a long effort. Pending the Governor’s signature, the effective date of this legislation is March 1, 2009. It is our intention to have training sites for retirees up and running by that time.