Applying systems thinking to law enforcement safety: recommendation for a comprehensive safety management framework
DeBoard, Maggie A.
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Each year, approximately 100,000 police officers experience work-related occupational injuries, and more than 100 are killed on the job, in training accidents, routine operations, and emergency response. Many of these injuries and deaths are considered preventable. Although the law enforcement profession has recently begun to place an emphasis on safety, with the goal of reducing injuries and fatalities, no systematic or comprehensive approach to safety management exists to oversee and coordinate safety throughout organizations. This thesis uses best-practice research to examine the safety protocols, practices, and safety management systems implemented in other high-risk professions, such as the fire service, military, and private industry, to determine common components and effective strategies that may be applied to the law enforcement profession. Numerous issues were identified to include the lack of a systemic approach to safety management, lack of a national reporting system for accidents and injuries, lack of safety management training for officers and leadership, lack of safety regulations and standards in the profession, and a failure to dedicate personnel to managing safety in organizations. A recommendation is then offered for a model law-enforcement safety management framework that can be applied to agencies of any size, with the goal of reducing accidents, injuries, and fatalities in the profession.
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