Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

LAPD to officers on duty: Buckle up, it’s the rule

LOS ANGELES — If you’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer for not wearing a seat belt, there’s a decent chance the officer also wasn’t buckled up either.

While 86 percent of Americans now wear seat belts, an upcoming study that will be published by California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training estimates that roughly half of law enforcement officers don’t wear them.

With traffic-related fatalities the leading cause of death of officers on duty, departments nationwide are buckling down to get officers to buckle up.

“Something that can save a person’s life should be on a high priority of being enforced,” said Richard Ashton, a former police chief who has studied officer safety for more than a decade with the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Los Angeles Police Department has a new seatbelt education effort after Inspector General Alex Bustamante found that up to 37 percent of officers involved in accidents in 2012 weren’t wearing seatbelts.

State laws mandating seatbelt use often exclude police, but the LAPD and most other departments require them in all but certain circumstances.

The costs of not doing so are clear.

In 14 of the last 15 years, it wasn’t a shooting, but a traffic incident that was the leading cause of officer deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of the 733 law enforcement officers killed in a vehicle accident from 1980 through 2008, 42 percent weren’t wearing seatbelts.

“This is such low-hanging fruit. This fruit is on the ground almost,” said Steve Soboroff, president of the Police Commission at a recent meeting of the civilian oversight board.

New recruits grew up wearing seatbelts, but often don’t on the force because senior officers don’t use them. Some cut old ones off cars and buckle them in to disable the alarm, belt them out of the way, or cut them out entirely.

Part of the problem is blamed on what experts call the myth of a “ninja assassin,” an assailant whose ambush attack would leave officers vulnerable because their seat belts would interfere with their ability to get their gun.

“No one can tell you an actual story about it (and) I haven’t been able to document it at all,” Ashton said.

LAPD is using the 25th anniversary of a tragedy to highlight the problem. On Dec. 12, 1988, three officers died after being thrown from the two LAPD cruisers they were in that collided at a Skid Row intersection. One officer left behind a pregnant fiancee; another left a pregnant widow.

The sole survivor, Venson Drake, a 28-year-old probationary officer on his second day in the field, was wearing a seatbelt.

Drake, who just retired at 53, said rookie officers often face pressure to conform and copy their training officer. Bustamante found commanders rarely disciplined officers for not wearing seat belts.

“I also blame that on the department,” Drake said. “They say they emphasize seatbelts but they really don’t. If they start hitting us in our pocket books or we start taking suspension days for it, officers are going to buckle up.”

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he prefers educating rather than punishing officers who aren’t wearing seatbelts because usually it’s a well-intentioned effort to more speedily help the public.

To that end, the department has created a training video for the anniversary of the collision — the worst in its history — to educate its officers.

“They’re not listening to the training, and they’re still driving out there like they’re invincible,” said Capt. Ann Young, who heads the LAPD’s Central Traffic Division and worked on the video. “If you stop and think for a minute, you know, I’ve got a loved one to get home to, they’re depending on me every night.”

And ultimately, if officers don’t buckle up and they’re in a wreck, officers are never able to help the public they’re rushing to aid.

Beck has designated 2014 the “year of traffic” while departments in Nevada and Maryland have also created training videos. Over the last three years, hundreds of law enforcement agencies in more than 25 states participated in a program emphasizing seatbelt use among other safety measures to keep officer fatalities below 100 a year.

The California Highway Patrol implemented the program this year and has nearly 100 percent seat belt compliance.

“You have to write reports over and over on fatalities, and not wearing a seatbelt is always a factor,” said John Hamm, who heads the union. “I mean what other education can you have?”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Bay Area makes growth plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Supervisor candidates vary on Plan Bay Area

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 7 Comments | Gallery

Earth Day means cleanup Day for Suisun City

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Hop to it: Couple lights up home, yard for Easter

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1

Ranking the best Bay Area athletes

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
The Edge hosts Easter egg hunt

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

Alooma Temple keeps children in mind

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield author to speak at women’s expo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

The resurrection has changed the lives of Christians

By Perry W. Polk | From Page: C3

 
Piano scholarship competition set in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Understanding your health insurance

By Morgan Westfall | From Page: D4

 
Armijo graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: C4

 
Record Store Day a commercial hit

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Easter egg hunt brings out the smiles

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. joins Fairfield coffee corridor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7, 3 Comments | Gallery

City sets plan to dispose of property assets

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Counties tell Brown they need money for his law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
San Francisco probe leading to entrapment claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Exhibit recreates Warhol’s 1964 World’s Fair mural

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Documents detail another delayed GM recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

At barricades, Ukraine insurgents await Easter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Official: 3 bodies retrieved from inside ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Costa Rican a celebrity after certified miracle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Government … for the government?

By Bill James | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Neighborhood speeders don’t get it

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Why would a person do this?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
Sound off for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Jeb Bush, love, and today’s GOP

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Statistical frauds distort equal-pay debate

By Thomas Sowell | From Page: A9

 
Are government ‘carrots’ fair, worthwhile?

By Brian Thiemer | From Page: A9

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Bill Nye says he underestimated debate’s impact

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3, 3 Comments

 
Book details lives of cloistered nuns

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Horoscopes for April 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D4

 
Pete spends weekends at my house but he never invites me to his

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D4

.

Entertainment

Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Tartt, Goodwin finalists for Carnegie medals

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book on fracking illuminates pros, cons

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Sports

A’s score 3 in 9th, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Kings, Sharks look to put Game 1 in past

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stults, Padres hand Giants third straight loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Hawks take 1-0 lead by rolling past Pacers 101-93

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raptors GM Ujiri uses profanity about Brooklyn

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Williams scores 24 as Nets beat Raptors 94-87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Durant leads Thunder past Grizzlies 100-86

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Federer beats injured Djokovic to reach final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Big names among prospective Buffalo Bills buyers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Indians set two new school records for track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Travis Bowl Highlights

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Rapids, Earthquakes play to scoreless tie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Stars Recreation bowling results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Jimenez leads Langer by 1 shot in Greater Gwinnett

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Donald shoots 66, takes lead at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Award-winning archery champ shoots with his teeth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Survivors keep busy as Boston Marathon approaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Business

Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
US delays review of contentious Keystone pipeline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Subscription sample boxes shake up beauty routines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Girls from modest families get lift in technology

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Haunted house part of San Antonio apartment lofts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

 
Recalls this week: lanterns, exercise devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

Review: Siri-like Cortana fills Windows phone gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Obituaries

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Margaret Elizabeth Silva

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Lloyd G. Hoffmeister

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Ramon Isidro

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Rogelio Tinoco-Zamudio

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

James Leroy Barbour

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
William Paul Wehrly

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics