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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

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Washington, DC 20530

July 2019 | Volume 12 | Issue 6

Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Near Miss is a national officer safety initiative, developed by the National Police Foundation with support from the COPS Office, that allows law enforcement personnel to read about and anonymously share stories of near misses, often referred to by officers as “close calls.” Each of these stories offers valuable lessons learned and reminders that, if shared with the law enforcement community as a whole, can be incorporated into training and policy development to improve officer safety. The following is a story of how a deputy was almost struck while attempting to assist a fellow deputy:

I was close by to an assault call, in which two males were fighting and one appeared unconscious. Second broadcast reported one male down on the pavement and the other walking away. I drove to the injured male to render aid. We are a large agency, and fights and disturbances are very common calls.

I arrived on scene first and contacted the injured male. His brother had assaulted him and choked him to the point of going unconscious. I determined a crime occurred and broadcast the suspect’s name, description, and direction of travel to responding deputies. A patrol deputy arrived, and I left the scene to help look for the suspect.

A short time later, I heard a motors deputy call out with the suspect. I was about 1/4 mile away. I drove with emergency lights activated on a four-lane highway (two westbound lanes and two eastbound lanes). I observed the motors deputy struggling with the suspect on a sidewalk. I stopped, blocking the far-right lane of travel, quickly opened my driver’s door, and began to exit. A vehicle westbound in the left lane of travel struck my door and nearly struck me at approximately 25–30 miles per hour. I was so focused on helping the deputy that I did not look for traffic behind me.

In an effort to learn from this near miss to prevent a serious injury or death from occurring in the future, the following lessons learned were shared for the benefit of officers across the country:

  • Regardless of the situation, you must maintain your situational awareness and resist becoming so focused on providing assistance that you put yourself in danger. Taking a second to evaluate your environment and associated risk before rushing into a situation will ensure your safety and enable you to provide the assistance needed.
  • Operating in a roadway or highway situation requires extra focus and extreme care. You should assume vehicles will not stop or respond correctly to your emergency equipment. Never turn your back on traffic and never put yourself in a position where you can’t get off the roadway to a safe location; always have an out when on a roadway.

Research in high-risk injuries has shown that serious injuries and fatalities are often preceded by numerous near misses. It is our duty in law enforcement to systematically collect and learn from these near misses—instead of only learning from tragedy—to improve officer safety and ensure every officer makes it home after every shift. Please visit the LEO Near Miss website for more information or to share your own near miss story so other officers can benefit.

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