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IPSA's Public Safety Column

The IPSA's Public Safety Column is an opportunity for our members and corporate sponsors to provide thought leadership articles about all topics facing public safety. 

The articles we publish are not necessarily the views of the IPSA, rather they are opinions shared by each contributor.

  • 26 Jun 2017 4:08 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Mike Mitchell, Assistant Chief of Technology, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

    Technology trends change rapidly in law enforcement, and conservation law enforcement officers (e.g. game wardens) have a unique subset of challenges. Often these officers are widely distributed across their jurisdictions, a warden might not see his or her supervisor for multiple days and he or she may not even have cell signal for days at a time.

    While working conditions are moderately different for conservation law enforcement officers, their need for funding and maximizing their budget is similar to mainstream public service agencies. They, too, have high demands and expectations from the individuals they serve.

    When it comes down to it, all law enforcement agencies must be more creative and smarter with how they apply the funds in their operating budget. Knowing when, how and where to stretch the dollar is more important than ever.

    Technology purchasing decisions

    It is helpful to place technology purchasing decisions in the context of Diffusion of Innovations. Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies, popularized the theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations. Essentially, the theory seeks to explain how, why and at what rate new ideas and technology spread. Rogers allows decision-makers to consider whether they are innovators, early adopters, majority and laggards. 

    In technology decision-making, the critical moment is around the 15-18 percent adoption rate. That’s where decision-makers ought to select and take advantage of what will become the majority or abandon and avoid the tool.

    Let me give you a real-world example that most of us can remember. Do you recall when the VHS tape competed against the Sony Betamax tape format in the 1970s? The VHS format won and Betamax lost. Managers need to heed that comparison and stay out of the risky area (like the Betamax format), while achieving the progress of available tools (like the VHS tape).

    Technologies worth considering

    There are countless new technology products and innovations impacting conservation enforcement officers. By drawing from the best use-cases from seven states, here are 10 solutions worth considering.


    Mobile apps are performing simple tasks well for officers in the field. Some require connectivity, while other apps store information within the mobile device. 

    In Texas, for example, game wardens can use iPhones to check driver’s license, license plates, boat registrations, missing persons, warrants, hunting licenses, fishing licenses, education certification, officer locations and other pertinent and useful information.

    Some apps are internally developed while others are hosted by a third-party. The cost to develop an app is usually around $20,000 to $40,000. And some third-party apps cost annually between $100-280 per individual.

    Body-worn cameras

    BWCs are huge in the public eye due to recent well-known cases such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. BWCs bring the advantage of showing one viewpoint, but also have the liabilities of storage, retention, redaction, privacy, policy, training and auditing. 

    As U.S. law enforcement agencies are collectively purchasing these by the thousands, dozens of vendors are offering BWCs and storage services. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, for example, just got BWCs in April 2017.  It is in early deployment to about 86 conservation officers.

    Lack of bandwidth is often a concern among officers as the video must be uploaded. Some agencies are finding unintended consequences coming from these tools. Decision-makers are urged to utilize resources such as the U.S. Department of Justice toolkits and do their due diligence before procurement.

    Costs of BWCs vary by features, storage and vendor. Typically, BWCs and training cost around $400-800 per user. And data storage generally ranges from $600 to $1,000 per user annually.

    Radiological and nuclear detection

    In Texas, there are four million surface acres of coastal waters and 16 deep water ports, and the game wardens deploy detection capabilities daily. This elevates maritime domain awareness, information sharing, intelligence, prevention and protection. Grants have been used to secure 106 pieces of technologically advanced radiological and nuclear detection equipment.

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the U.S. Coast Guard are constantly seeking partners to enhance the radiological and nuclear detection efforts in the maritime domain. The goal is to have a mesh network reporting triggers to federal partners. 

    Electronic citations

    Issuing e-citations saves time, reduces steps and leads to increased officer safety. General concerns about the solution include connectivity, printing, screen size and accuracy. Some jurisdictions may also need to change processes or interfaces.

    In conservation law enforcement, the concern is increased by issues such as printing citations on a jon boat in the heat near saltwater during ten hours of patrol. Florida Fish and Wildlife has resolved this concern particularly well by having its portable printers in waterproof plastic cases with batteries. Other printing options are developing.

    Side scan sonar

    Any tool bringing rapid closure to the distress of a drowning is appreciated. Water is difficult to work in and dive teams are expensive. Fortunately, today there is a strong track record for the ability to locate persons or evidence underwater, using side scan sonar and towed arrays. Recoveries are occurring over minutes instead of days.

    Side scan sonar units cost around $1,300 to $1,800 each and can even be made portable. Towed array sonars cost about $50,000 with training and rigging.

    Social media

    Social media is proving to be a significant, low-cost, high-yield tool in conservation enforcement. From outreach to obtaining tips, it is proving to be invaluable.

    In a 2016 post about poaching, a suspect called one Texas agency’s dispatch center within two hours, asking, “Why is my picture on Facebook?” There are several resources out there for agencies to learn how to get started like the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Center for Social Media.

    Information sharing

    Conservation related citations, licenses and education certificates are not often stored in any shared databases. Although some data is shared through the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact Act, there are still several states and jurisdictions that do not participate.

    Shared databases could greatly improve cross-border information sharing. Regulatory, privacy and legal issues remain. Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game are providing some information to the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. 

    Online collaboration

    Since conservation officers work in disparate areas at disparate times, having an online collaboration tool is invaluable. There are CJIS-secure platforms available that offer discussion boards, wiki pages and specific access for who can see what online. These collaboration tools often include virtual screen sharing using any type device (mobile or PC) and automatically adjusts to available bandwidth. 

    The cost varies number of licenses and other bundled features. One state conservation agency currently pays about $100 per person per year.

    Public safety broadband

    First responders having voice and data communications capability in times of crisis is crucial. Thus, the federal government is pursuing FirstNet, a nationwide system that will provide broadband service for first responders. States must opt into the system or come up with a similar one.

    It is an exciting, integrated approach that should deliver specialized features that are better for public safety. 

    Some concerns among conservation law enforcement include rural coverage capabilities, pricing and the potential need for new equipment.


    The days of manual reports are over.  New technologies bring better ways to gather, store and share information. From entering evidence to writing case reports, from entering daily vehicle information to monthly summaries, reporting can be done securely online. 

    For example, at Oklahoma’s Department of Wildlife Conservation, game wardens report daily patrol vehicle mileage via a mobile app. They can then check or print their work via a desktop computer.  Routing and approvals are done electronically.

    Many states also use records management systems for case and/or evidence management. Vendors host these in the cloud or they may be developed in house. An example of cloud-based annual fees from one vendor is $558 per individual. 

    Looking toward the future

    We know from Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation theory that exposure to new trends is key. Public safety managers need to consider what trends are developing around them and what tools might help their officers. 

    In the case of conservation enforcement, there is a unique set of needs. But perhaps some of the trends could be valuable for any public safety manager to examine.

    About the Author

    Mike Mitchell has 14 years of service in public safety and serves as the Assistant Chief of Technology for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Mike has a Master’s Degree of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Geography from Texas A&M University.  He is a certified Texas Peace Officer and a member of the IPSA. 

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  • 14 Jun 2017 3:15 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Gary Teeler, Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, IPSA Emerging Technologies Committee Member

    Even though a contract between FirstNet and AT&T was recently signed and the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network is almost here, first responders shouldn’t be quick to get rid of their land mobile radios. I’ll explain why, but first let me explain the concept of the NPSBN.

    If you have ever experienced a high-volume event where service was congested, you likely could not get your pictures or videos to post, or texts to send. Currently, the public safety community shares that same experience, although the information that needs to be transmitted is likely to be more critical and life-saving.

    The NPSBN will be very much like a data service that you might purchase through several commercial carriers. The goal of the NPSBN is to provide dedicated bandwidth so all first responders can effectively communicate during mission critical situations, such as emergencies, disasters and events, without getting bogged down in congestion or being kicked off the network (something we’ve all experienced). 

    Ability to actually communicate 

    You have heard the phrases such as “knowledge is power” or a “picture is worth a thousand words.” The NPSBN will allow first responders to quickly harness information, transmit data, stream live video, provide situational awareness and be more efficient on communicating, which is a most critical function in this line of work. The missing piece is voice communications, and this is being addressed.

    The question that is often asked is, "How does my agency get FirstNet?" Each State and Territory must-opt in or opt-out of the network that will be stood up by FirstNet. 

    If they opt out, they must build their own. Also, the network itself, requires special “Band Class 14” devices. 

    The selection is limited, and they are costly. The network on which this system will operate does not yet fully exist. 

    LMR for now

    Land mobile radio has been the go-to communication method for public safety for many years. It is reliable in emergency and disaster situations, easy to use and is a familiar piece of equipment to most first responders. A recent trend experienced by many agencies is users communicating more frequently by smartphone. When networks get overloaded or fail, then responders fall back to LMR. 

    The message to push up to management is that the NPSBN will be a great tool for public safety, but it will not replace LMR right away.

    Funding mechanisms must be put in place to fund both broadband public safety and LMR. The two systems may converge in the future, but at this point neither is the complete solution. 

    Those of you reading this that have been involved since from the beginning and when FirstNet was being conceptualized will likely recall comments like “not in my lifetime” or “it will never happen” being commonplace. I hope the naysayers are watching, as many remain dear friends, because the NPSBN is coming to fruition soon. In fact, it is a reality in five parts of the U.S. right now.

    About the Author
    Gary Teeler has 21 years of service in public safety and currently serves as the Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Gary has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management from Sam Houston State University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement from Texas State University. He is a certified Texas Peace Officer, Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), and a graduate of the 256th Session of the FBI National Academy. Gary serves on the IPSA Emerging Technologies Committee and as an adjunct professor at South University in Austin.

    Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the IPSA or any agency of the government.

  • 12 Jun 2017 2:59 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Columbia Southern University

    If you ever wanted to learn more about something, but cannot invest the time to earn a degree, continuing education may be the right choice for you.

    Continuing education offers busy adult learners a valuable and convenient way to expand their knowledge without having to invest a great deal of time. Generally, continuing education courses are short-term, focus on a single topic and may meet a required purpose for a job.

    However, continuing education can offer so much more to eager learners, particularly those in areas of safety. Chief among its benefits are personal enrichment, employment success and career development.

    When combined, these three aspects can generate superior continuing education courses.

    1. Personal enrichment: Education provides a fascinating arena for a mind to grow stronger and sharper. However, learning does not always have to be regimented or result in an academic degree. In fact, education is simply about gaining knowledge. That knowledge offers enrichment on various levels while satisfying a curiosity or key career interest. No matter the topic—art, history, technology or safety—continued learning allows a person to grow intellectually.

    2. Employment success: Many departments and organizations encourage continuing education so employees can learn specific skills to do their current job more efficiently or to advance through promotion.

      Hiring officials and executives in the public and private sector recognize that a general lack of skills is likely to hold an organization back from advancing its mission. This may explain why 85 percent of human resources and business leaders ranked learning and development as a top issue, according to “Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Leading in the New World of Work,” by Deloitte. Workers can further benefit as the learning can foster possible promotions or increased value to the organization.

    3. Career development: Perhaps one of most important aspects of continuing education is that it can be vital to helping individuals develop new skills or knowledge. Gaining expertise on the latest trends in a profession not only adds to a person’s resume, but it indicates to your employer that you are taking your position seriously, possibly seeking career advancement and doing your best to advance your skillset.

    Separately or combined, these three benefits make continuing education very appealing to learners. They help learners gain knowledge for personal satisfaction, boost a resume or career, appease an employer or gain a promotion.

    Columbia Southern University designs its continuing education courses in occupational safety and health with these features in mind. Industrial Hygiene for Safety Professionals features a history of the topic and discussion of how the principles of physics, chemistry and biological sciences apply, appealing to some students’ interests in history and sciences. The course also discusses how the practice of industrial hygiene fits within an environmental health and safety program that gives students information to adapt their environmental health and safety program at their workplaces. As a resume builder, students learn about the latest health hazards to impress potential employers with their knowledge.

    CSU also offers two continuing education courses for safety professionals eager for a career boost, promotion and/or personal enrichment.

    The ASP Prep Course and CSP Prep Course are both designed to prepare students for the Associate Safety Professional Examination and the Certified Safety Professional Examination offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

    From statistics to ergonomics to safety management and more, these continuing education courses will instill a huge amount of knowledge and preparation for anyone seeking certification.

    About Columbia Southern University

    One of the nation’s pioneer online universities, Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more.

    CSU is an IPSA Supporter. All IPSA Members are eligible to receive a tuition discount – login to our Members Only page to learn more.

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  • 12 Jun 2017 8:14 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Heather R. Cotter, International Public Safety Association Executive Director

    On June 12, 2016, an unexpected act of terrorism hit a soft target in the City of Orlando late in the evening. The horrific attack – the deadliest in modern times since 9/11 – took the lives of 49 individuals and wounded 53 others.

    Several first responders were on scene as the incident unfolded – an event that lasted over three hours.

    While reviewing the below timeline, think about the importance of creating an integrated response – you will clearly see how it takes several teams and personnel to respond to an incident of this magnitude. Timeline source – FBI.  

    • 2:02 a.m.: OPD call transmitted multiple shots fired at Pulse nightclub.
    • 2:04 a.m.: Additional OPD officers arrived on scene.
    • 2:08 a.m.: Officers from various law enforcement agencies made entrance to Pulse and engaged the shooter.
    • 2:18 a.m.: OPD SWAT initiated a full call-out.
    • 2:35 a.m.: Shooter contacted a 911 operator from inside Pulse. The call lasted approximately 50 seconds, the details of which are set out below:

    Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD) 
    Omar Mateen (OM)

    OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
    OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficent [Arabic]
    OD: What?
    OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [Arabic]. I wanna let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.
    OD: What’s your name?
    OM: My name is I pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.
    OD: Ok, What’s your name?
    OM: I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State.
    OD: Alright, where are you at?
    OM: In Orlando.
    OD: Where in Orlando?
    [End of call.]

    (Shortly thereafter, the shooter engaged in three conversations with OPD’s Crisis Negotiation Team.)

    • 2:48 a.m.: First crisis negotiation call occurred lasting approximately nine minutes.
    • 3:03 a.m.: Second crisis negotiation call occurred lasting approximately 16 minutes.
    • 3:24 a.m.: Third crisis negotiation call occurred lasting approximately three minutes.

    In these calls, the shooter, who identified himself as an Islamic soldier, told the crisis negotiator that he was the person who pledged his allegiance to [omitted], and told the negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was “out here right now.” When the crisis negotiator asked the shooter what he had done, the shooter stated, “No, you already know what I did.” The shooter continued, stating, “There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid.” Later in the call with the crisis negotiator, the shooter stated that he had a vest, and further described it as the kind they “used in France.” The shooter later stated, “In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on.” The shooter hung up and multiple attempts to get in touch with him were unsuccessful.

    • 4:21 a.m.: OPD pulled an air conditioning unit out of a Pulse dressing room window for victims to evacuate.
      4:29 a.m.: As victims were being rescued, they told OPD the shooter said he was going to put four vests with bombs on victims within 15 minutes.

    (An immediate search of the shooter’s vehicle on scene and inside Pulse ultimately revealed no vest or improvised explosive device.)

    • 5:02 a.m.: OPD SWAT and OCSO Hazardous Device Team began to breach wall with explosive charge and armored vehicle to make entry.
    • 5:14 a.m.: OPD radio communication stated that shots were fired.
    • 5:15 a.m.: OPD radio communication stated that OPD engaged the suspect and the suspect was reported down.

    Safeguarding first responders, rebuilding a community

    As demonstrated in the above timeline, the chaos the first responders had to work through is unimaginable.

    First responders are experiencing PTSD as a result of the attack – some have come forward publicly and others are apprehensive due to the stigma that is often (and wrongly) associated with it. PTSD in public service is a serious health concern that tends to have a negative connotation. This needs to change. We must safeguard all first responders so they can fully recover from critical incidents.

    The City of Orlando has made significant strides to rebuild the community and their first responders. A ceremony was held in early May to honor the first responders for their bravery that night – more than 300 were recognized including 911 call takers/dispatchers, law enforcement, firefighters, EMTs, emergency room doctors and officers from neighboring departments. Similar ceremonies have also held from 2016 to today to honor and recognize the work of the first responders.

    The City of Orlando and Orange County Government, in collaboration with Pulse, have jointly designated June 12, 2017, as “Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness.”

    The city is holding several events to remember the victims and to rebuild the community. While this attack occurred in Orlando – first responders around the globe felt its impact.

    Let’s all take a moment to remember the victims, the fallen and the first responders impacted by the Pulse attack.

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  • 09 Jun 2017 8:42 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    Technology in the squad car continues to rapidly evolve, and staying informed about the best IT advances continues to be a challenge for law enforcement agencies. 

    Video surveillance, license plate recognition, electronic ticketing systems and the latest vehicle dispatching and tracking technologies enable officers to safely cover more area and coordinate with other officers and agencies.

    Today’s police officers, paramedics, firefighters, utility workers, transit operators and other public safety workers rely on advanced mobile applications, such as automatic vehicle location, traffic signal prioritization, computer aided dispatch, route and schedule management and fare payment systems that increase productivity and improve safety.

    Reliable connectivity

    The main point of access for these applications is often from the vehicle because it’s equipped with onboard wireless connectivity and transmits and receives data during every single shift.

    In-vehicle connectivity has become customary, with first responders and field service personnel driving cars, vans and trucks equipped with a network connection that provides convenient access to voice, text and video data.  

    However, if the vehicle has only one onboard connection, the setup involves a certain amount of risk. Any issues with network coverage, bandwidth or usage can mean delayed communications or, worse yet, no communications at all. Losing the onboard connection can have extreme consequences and can even mean the difference between life and death.

    In-vehicle connectivity risk mitigation

    How do you reduce this risk?  By adding at least one more onboard network connection you can greatly reduce this risk. An alternative connection – to a secondary cellular network or some other format, such as Wi-Fi or satellite – creates a layer of insurance.

    When the primary connection isn’t up to the task, the alternate connection can be brought online to keep communications intact. Having two or more available connections onboard the vehicle, or multi-networking, protects against worst-case scenarios and increases resilience for emergency response and other in-field services.

    What is involved in a multi-network concept? A multi-network concept refers to any setup that provides the vehicle with more than one network connection, meaning, there can be a mix of technologies onboard ranging from cellular and Wi-Fi to LMR, satellite, or new formats as they come online, such as the FirstNet network for public safety.

    A multi-network router installed in the vehicle is used to manage the switches from network to network.

    When are these typical network changeovers? Changeovers usually happen at three points of operation:

    1. When leaving the depot and transitioning from Wi-Fi to cellular
    2. When returning to the depot and transitioning back from cellular to Wi-Fi
    3. While the vehicle is in motion, with the router switching from one network to another to optimize in-field connectivity

    With the right multi-network solution in place, changeovers from one network to another can happen automatically without any kind of manual intervention and the necessary security protocols are maintained without interrupting the flow of work, even when there’s a VPN involved.

    Furthermore, the selection criteria for each network connection can be customized, based on things like vehicle location, vehicle speed or the type of data being transmitted. The overall result is more efficient network usage, more effective field services and lower operating costs.

    Impact of video

    Law enforcement and other organizations are now using more video and at a higher resolution. The video is typically stored in the vehicle and then transmitted to the backend system at periodic intervals.

    The mobile router can be configured to use a dedicated link to send video so the data-intensive video transmissions don’t disrupt or slow down the other services in use. Alternatively, the router can be configured to send video transmissions when the vehicle returns to its home base, using the depot’s faster, more secure Wi-Fi connection to transfer video.

    Choosing the right multi-network mobile router

    How does an agency choose the right mobile router for your workforce to ensure connectivity in the field? The operating costs and in-field effectiveness of a multi-network platform are heavily influenced by the ability of the router to manage seamless network changeovers and protect data.

    The router’s switching speed, security features and programmability all affect how well the solution performs and how much it costs to manage. It’s important to consider all these factors when evaluating the various options available for mobile multi-networking.

    Transitioning to a multi-network environment is a serious undertaking. To maximize your return on investment and fully realize the benefit to your agency, you should look at (minimally) these three things in a multi-network mobile router:

    1. Switching speeds that are fast enough to support seamless connectivity
    2. The ability to provide continuous security without impacting performance
    3. A policy engine that can be configured for intelligent switching and customized operation

    Choosing a mobile router that meets all three criteria lets you create a multi-networking environment that not only enhances efficiency, but it also adds value.

    About the Author

    Group Mobile works closely with Sierra Wireless to offer the world a comprehensive offering of hardware, software and services for connected devices and machine-to-machine communications. Together, Group Mobile and Sierra Wireless provide innovative, reliable and high performing solutions.

    Group Mobile’s team of industry experts can assist you in selecting, designing and implementing a multi-network environment for mission-critical fleets, request a free personalized quote. Group Mobile is an IPSA Supporter.

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  • 07 Jun 2017 4:12 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Lieutenant Tim Murphy, Paso Robles (CA) Police Department, IPSA Memorial Committee

    The concept of officer safety in law enforcement is stressed from day one in the academy and remains prominent throughout our careers. All of us in law enforcement have read a training bulletin, seen a BOLO teletype or heard a radio broadcast with the ‘officer safety’ heading. 

    Officer safety related posters are displayed in locker rooms, break rooms, briefing rooms and report writing rooms across the nation reminding us to wear our vests, drive defensively and remain vigilant. As you drive out of the parking lot to start your tour of duty, you may even see a sign reminding you to wear your seat belt.  

    As a profession, we are proactive when it comes to our officer safety tactics, techniques and procedures.

    An oath to protect others and ourselves

    All officers take an oath to serve and protect. We voluntarily signed on to face the risks inherent in our job, and we do our best to mitigate those risks by wearing our vests, driving defensively, clicking our seatbelts on and donning our personal protective equipment when dealing with a biohazard. 

    Even so, we can never mitigate all risks to zero – it is simply impossible. However, we can make great strides in reducing the health-related risks by taking a proactive approach to our health and wellness tactics, techniques and procedures.

    Officer safety includes health, wellness

    As human beings, we are all experiencing the effects of time and aging – it’s a reality we must face and respond to as law enforcement professionals.

    All officers are dealing with the effects of the job. New recruits, command level and executives all go through irregular hours and shift work, interrupted or varied meal periods, high stress or periods of inactivity followed by intense physical and mental stress.

    There are three things that all officers can do to be proactive about health and wellness in the fast paced, high stress world of law enforcement.

    1. Eating right: Take some time to prepare your work meals and snacks at home before shifts. Have healthy snacks ready to go, at home and at work. To avoid cravings, try to eat consistently to avoid a drop in your blood sugar.

      Do your best to balance your meals with protein, fiber and healthy fats. This will help you slow your digestion and keep you full.

      Start reading food labels to see exactly what you are consuming. Avoid highly processed foods and try to get as many servings of fruits and vegetables as possible throughout the day.

      Stay hydrated. This is critical to normal body functions. The U.S. Department of Defense and Special Operations Command have produced a valuable nutrition guide titled ‘The Special Operations Forces Nutrition Guide’ which is full of recommendations that you can incorporate into decision making.

    2. Sleep: Lack of sleep on a consistent basis has been shown to lead to several long-term health problems, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Consistent sleep patterns are vital to good overall health.

      Shift work makes it difficult to maintain ‘normal’ sleep patterns. However, it can be done. The National Sleep Foundation has several recommendations to help Tips for Sleeping During the Day - Shift Work Disorder. Some of these tips include darkening your bedroom with shades or curtains, keeping cool and avoiding alcohol before bedtime.

    3. Exercise: If you already exercise, great. If not, get started now. There is truly no reason that you can’t exercise if you’re on active police duty.

      Simple daily activities like walking, playing with your kids or taking your dog to the park have been shown to produce positive health effects. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week.

    Each one of the three major areas may seem too daunting to tackle, let alone trying to make changes in all three areas. However, I am confident you each face and successfully handle bigger challenges every day in your work assignments.  You know you can do this.

    Workout at a pace that fits your situation and lifestyle. Start with easy changes (pack your lunch instead of eating out, drink water instead of that routine cup of coffee, go for a walk instead of sitting in front of the TV). Incorporate these changes into your daily routines and you will start to feel better. As stated by Charles J. Givens, “Achieve success in any area of life by identifying the optimum strategies and repeating them until they become habits.”

    Officer safety is a serious topic. The threats faced by domestic law enforcement have evolved over the years and in response, our profession has upgraded our tactics, techniques and procedures. 

    I encourage each of you to take a few moments to review your personal health and wellness tactics, techniques and procedures.

    By no means do I profess to be a fitness or nutrition expert. I do not espouse any exercise regimen or tout the wonders of any specific diet, but I do know from personal experience that a few simple steps can make a big difference. Finally, before beginning any exercise programs be sure to consult with your primary care provider.

    About the Author

    Tim Murphy currently serves as the Support Services Commander at the Paso Robles (CA) Police Department. He is commander of the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT Team and holds a B.S. Degree in criminal justice from California State University (Sacramento) and a Master’s Degree in Justice Administration from Norwich University. During his 27-year career, he has served as a field training officer, motor officer, detective, and SWAT operator.

  • 06 Jun 2017 3:21 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Gary Teeler, Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, IPSA Emerging Technologies Committee Member

    Though there have been numerous technological advancements in modern civilization, a reliance on electrical energy in the modern world leaves us more vulnerable than ever to the aftermath of an Electromagnetic Pulse event. The potential effects of an EMP event on the U.S. power grid would likely be devastating to a degree of incomprehension.


    An EMP first occurred in 1945, following the detonation of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Scientist noted that after the blasts the atmosphere was saturated with an excess of electrons for several months.

    The true forces of EMP were later realized in 1962 as a byproduct of a 1.4 megaton nuclear missile detonation at an altitude of 248 miles over Johnson Island, in the Pacific Ocean. Though this military exercise, named Starfish Prime, took place in a remote part of the ocean, locations as far away as Hawaii, California and Australia experienced radio disruptions. At least six satellites were also disabled by the EMP.

    The effects on certain electronic equipment over very large expanses, opened eyes to the potential dangers. 

    Just over 100 years earlier, in 1859, a natural phenomenon occurred which had similar effects. Now known as the Carrington Event, this severe solar storm effectively knocked out telegraph networks on four continents, which required replacement of the trans-Atlantic telegraph system. 

    Today’s EMP threat types

    EMP threats come in many forms, including electromagnetic attacks, cyberattacks, direct physical attacks and solar geomagnetic disturbances (GMD).

    Electromagnetic weapons can range from small suitcase sized radio frequency (RF) energy devices, up to nuclear weapons detonated at a high altitude creating an electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) over a selected target.

    HEMP attacks: The area impacted by a HEMP attack is related to the height at which the detonation occurs. The higher the altitude of the detonation, the larger the radius of the area effected by EMP.  

    Cyberattacks: Any cyberattacks related to EMP come in the form of attacks directly to power grid infrastructure. It’s critical for all emergency responders to understand that these cyberattacks occur daily, and can result in serious damage or failure of equipment, impacting hundreds of thousands of customers. Further, cyberattacks can even be carried out by hackers far removed from the physical location.

    Direct physical attacks: Direct physical attacks come in the form of small arms attacks directly to electrical substations. These key pieces of infrastructure are often in plain view, lack hardened casing and are typically located simply behind chain link fencing. This makes for an easy target even with handguns and shoulder weapons.

    GMD attacks: Geomagnetic disturbances can be considered the mother nature form of EMP. These naturally occurring solar storms can produce an effect very like a nuclear based HEMP attack. For example, in July 2012 the Earth reportedly missed a super storm of the magnitude of the previously mentioned Carrington Event by only nine days. 

    One can only imagine how different the effects would have been versus effects that occurred in the 1859 event.

    Who are EMP attackers?

    The entities that might carry out EMP attacks come in many forms including state actors, non-state actors and even naturally occurring events with no actors.

    State actors generally include North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. These countries have made overt statements regarding EMP, HEMP, RF attacks and physical and cyberattacks on the grid. Additionally, these countries possess nuclear capabilities which could support a HEMP attack. 

    Non-state actors could be global terrorist organizations or individual actors such as hackers. Not to be overlooked is the unpreventable threat posed by mother nature, which can come at any time and location, and can be of an extreme magnitude.

    What can happen during an EMP attack?

    Imagine airplanes falling from the sky, vehicles not functioning and all power/utility/electrical networks deteriorating at the same time. While this may sound incredibly fictional, it’s not. It’s about as real as it gets.

    When an EMP attack occurs, you can count on chaos. All emergency responders will be incredibly challenged to communicate with one another and effectively responding.

    Typically, the goal of an EMP attack is to take out the power grid. Loss of a portion of the power grid would likely result in cascading losses to remaining portions of the grid. 

    Unlike a temporary power outage, there may be no existing mechanism to get power back to the affected area. The EMP will have effectively destroyed the grid infrastructure, including power transformers. These expensive pieces of infrastructure take extended periods to manufacture, are often aged and lack redundancy at most sites.

    Each of the 16 Critical Infrastructures, as identified in the Presidential Policy Directive – Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, would be critically affected by failure of the electrical grid. The effects on transportation and communication alone would hamper the efforts of first responders and utility workers.

    Backup systems and processes in place for a power failure would likely last only as long as there is onsite fuel supply. This is of concern at nuclear power plants, where cooling of the reactor core requires electricity. 

    When the backup generator runs out of fuel, the result would be a melt-down. On a related note, the backup fuel supply at a reactor site is only required to support one week of operation. In other words, your Plan B better be good.  

    Survival and risk mitigation

    Individuals in the modern world will not be prepared for life without electricity. The Congressional EMP Commission reported that nine out of 10 Americans would die within the first year of a prolonged nationwide blackout. Water and food would be in short supply, resulting in starvation and disease.

    Unsanitary conditions, civil unrest and a limited ability to protect the country would be the eventual result.

    While this does not paint a pretty picture, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate effects, including hardening of infrastructure facilities, redundancy of certain equipment and removing capabilities of adversaries.

    An EMP attack is high impact low frequency (HILF) event, which poses unique challenges for support and funding. To properly mitigate risk and protect infrastructure will require a considerable public and private partnership. There is a duty to act to protect the quality of life we have become accustomed to, and there are steps that can be taken to secure the grid. 

    We must collectively decide it is a national priority.


    About the Author
    Gary Teeler has 21 years of service in public safety and currently serves as the Chief of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Gary has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management from Sam Houston State University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Law Enforcement from Texas State University. He is a certified Texas Peace Officer, Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), and a graduate of the 256th Session of the FBI National Academy. Gary serves on the IPSA Emerging Technologies Committee and as an adjunct professor at South University in Austin.

    Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the IPSA or any agency of the government.

  • 05 Jun 2017 3:50 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Lieutenant Joseph “Paul” Manley, IPSA Memorial Committee

    Law enforcement officers’ lives are on the line both on and off duty. They must follow several guidelines and protocols 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help ensure their own safety, the safety of their peers and the people around them.

    Officers come across violent and non-violent criminals on a regular basis. In some jurisdictions or beats, this occurs several times during any given shift. Therefore, officers must always think about safety because these interactions with known and unknown offenders puts their safety at a high risk.

    A frightening trend

    According to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, law enforcement fatalities nationwide rose to their highest level in five years in 2016, with 135 officers killed in the line of duty. This is a 10 percent increase over the 123 who lost their lives in the line of duty in year 2015.

    During the first five months of 2017, there have been 55 officer fatalities compared to 39 in the first five months of 2016. That is a 41 percent increase. Based on this current trend, officer fatalities for 2017 may equal or surpass last year.

    Throughout the years, data consistently shows that firearms and traffic related fatalities are the leading cause of law enforcement LODDs. Contrary to popular belief, people are not the biggest danger to police officers, but rather traffic fatalities. Except for 2016, traffic fatalities have been the single leading cause of death for officers throughout the years.

    The NLEOMF reports that over a 10-year period ending in 2015, an average of 144 officers were killed each year. The report indicates that 64 of these LODDs were feloniously killed per year, while the majority of LODDs are killed by accident or by other means, not necessarily violent attacks.

    Officer safety tips

    The following four simple and easy safety tips will help ensure officers go home at the end of his or her shift. It is important to remember these four tips and put them into practice.

    1. Wear your seat belt. A 2014 FBI analysis reported 10 of 28 officers killed in vehicle crashes were not wearing seat belts. Six of the 10 vehicle crash victims were ejected from their vehicles during the crashes. According to the NLEOMF, as of June 1, 2017, there have been 23 auto related deaths compared to 21 for the entire year of 2016.The bottom line is to always wear your seat belt. If not for you, then for your families and for our chosen profession.
    2. Wear your body armor. It will never stop any bullets if it’s hanging in your locker.  
    3. Watch your speed. If your partner is calling for back-up, the best thing you can do to help him or her is to get there. High-speed police chases have killed thousands of innocent bystanders. Victims include the officers involved, small children, teenage drivers and the elderly.
    4. Use the training and tools you have been given.  Know your use-of-force continuum and be comfortable escalating when necessary.

    We will never know how many times body armor or seat belts have saved an officer’s life because that data is not collected, but we all can agree that we must work continuously to ensure that officers are provided with the best protective equipment, and that they use it always as a matter of routine. 

    Following the list of helpful tips is not a guarantee that you will go home at the end of your shift, but these safety tips may help prevent an unnecessary injury or fatality from happening.

  • 05 Jun 2017 10:06 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Heather R. Cotter, IPSA Executive Director

    The global public safety community has witnessed, directly and through news reports, a tremendous amount of violence. It is just absolutely devastating to see these events unfold before us.

    Today there was a mass casualty shooting at a workplace in Orlando, Florida. Investigators believe this atrocity is from a disgruntled employee.

    Over the weekend, we learned about the London Bridge terrorist attack – in which a vehicle was used as a weapon. Several innocents lost their lives and many were injured. Then there was a second incident at the Borough Market in which the attackers were using knives as weapons.

    In May, there was a suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester – another mass casualty incident in which 22 perished.

    An unpredictable environment

    When the unpredictable happens, our first responders must be fully prepared to respond – whether it’s a single incident or a complex, coordinated attack.

    Law enforcement, firefighters, EMS, telecommunicators, transportation, hospitals, emergency management and allied emergency responders are relying on their training, standard operating procedures and an effective incident command to get through the chaos while protecting the lives of citizens and keeping themselves safe from harm.

    While on scene, it is often unknown whether all the suspects have been identified and captured. It is unknown how many victims are injured. It is unknown whether another incident is going to occur in a nearby location. The work our first responders perform during these high-risk operations, and in an unpredictable environment, is admirable. It takes exceptional human beings to work at ground zero.

    First responders – whether they are in the United States or the United Kingdom – are operating under tremendous amount of stress while any attack unfolds. This stress continues even during the aftermath.

    What we can learn from these recent mass casualty attacks is that weaponry, type of incident, locations, geography, attackers’ demographics and time of day all varies.

    Given this, we must continue to provide education, tools, resources and share our after-action debriefings and lessons learned with one another. Globally, agencies, trainers and organizations must apply those lessons learned in training because the reality we face is these attacks can happen anywhere at any time.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, friends and colleagues of the innocents whose lives were devastated by these recent attacks.

  • 02 Jun 2017 9:25 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Sean W. Stumbaugh, Battalion Chief (Retired)

    As firefighters, we are exposed to risks and hazards daily. We do what we can, as individuals and organizations, to reduce our exposure to these risks. When one of us is injured (or worse), we can typically point to a proximate cause: the event that triggered the injury. To get ahead of these injuries, however, we need to prevent the root causes.

    During my 32 years of firefighting, I was fortunate as far as injuries are concerned. Oh sure, I had the typical bumps and bruises, but I only sustained one injury I would consider major, the result of a fall one dark night on a steep mountainside in Trinity County, Calif.

    My engine company was part of a strike team conducting initial attack on a new—and growing—wildfire. Our strike team had just put in about 5,000 feet of 1½" fire hose up a steep mountainside along the left flank of the fire. We had tied in the line and were holding it with the help of hand crews. I made one misstep downhill and went tumbling over. Everyone heard my right knee pop as my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) gave way. Down I went.

    I spent the next four or five years healing, having surgery, and healing again. This injury changed my career, moving me temporarily to a desk job and out of the firehouse. But in the end, it doesn’t hold me back much; I can still swim, ride my bike, ski and run (I sometimes wish my knee prevented that last one!). The short-term pain and down time was no fun at all, but fortunately I suffered no long-term effects.

    I cannot say the same about my hearing.

    Hearing loss

    Because of long-term occupational noise exposure, I suffer from permanent hearing loss in my left ear. The proximate cause of this disability is not a single event, like my knee, but chronic exposure to noise. I first started to notice the problem when I heard a noise in my head that sounded like a C-130 Hercules aircraft.

    This noise was noticeable when things around me were very quiet. I initially thought it was congestion due to allergies, but it got progressively louder over time. The first real indication of a big problem was when I could not hear my wife’s voice very well at all (that can be trouble!).

    Long story short, I was diagnosed with significant hearing loss in my left ear due to industrial noise exposure. The hearing loss is bad enough, as I have difficulty hearing conversations, especially in loud places. But the worst part is the tinnitus (noises or ringing in the ear).

    This constant noise in my head is loud and it drowns out other sounds. There is no place that I can go where it is quiet; I hear this noise all the time.

    Noise levels in the fire service

    The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety sets the noise exposure limit (REL) at 85 decibels (dBA) over a time weighted average (TWA) of eight hours.

    Noise level measurements taken in the typical environment where a firefighter works often exceed this threshold. Consider the following three scenarios:

    1. When riding in or operating fire apparatus, the dBA levels range from 75 to 88 dBA. Spikes in noise levels have been measured between 105 and 109 dBA. These numbers indicate that firefighters need to wear hearing protection when they are working in and around their fire apparatus.

    2. During the performance of our duties we use a lot of power saws and other power equipment. We use chainsaws to vent roofs, rotary saws to cut metal and force entry, power fans to remove smoke from buildings, and hydraulic powerplants to run hydraulic tools for vehicle rescue. These and numerous other noises on the emergency scene often exceed recognized safety levels.

    3. Working around the firehouse is also a noisy activity. Fire apparatus, bells and whistles, air compressors and exhaust fans can all raise the noise level above the allowable limit.

    These situations are the proximate causes of hearing loss, and they require us to take steps to protect ourselves and our personnel, including training personnel to recognize unsafe noise levels and take appropriate steps to protect themselves, initiating engineering and administrative controls and providing appropriate personal protective equipment. The PPE needs to be adequate for the noise level involved and fit-tested to the individual firefighter.

    We usually have adequate hearing protection devices available to us in situations where noise exposure is common. Supervisors are tasked with ensuring firefighters use hearing protection as required by the department’s policies and procedures. We have this weird situation in our industry, however, during which protecting our hearing becomes more challenging.

    Hearing protection during emergency response

    If we have hearing safeguards in place, why do so many firefighters retire with hearing loss?

    Well, one reason is emergency response. We can go from performing station duties, sitting in our recliners, or even sleeping in our beds, to arriving on the scene of an emergency within a matter of minutes. We go from a resting state to potentially performing work at our highest level of physical ability. This emergent environment requires us to take quick and decisive action. We don our PPE and go to work. We have turnouts to protect our bodies from thermal insult and SCBA to protect our airways from smoke and heat, but do we have anything to protect our hearing when we are wearing all this other gear?

    If we donned hearing protection (ear plugs) before we threw on our mask that might help, but is it practical? We need to hear our radios over the rest of the loud noises. Orders or safety messages are too important to miss—and radio communications are often difficult to hear under the best fireground conditions. Further, PPE is an ensemble. We cannot just add components without proper testing to ensure the additions don’t interfere with the fit or function of other parts.

    Let’s face it, there are no bulletproof solutions to hearing protection on the fireground.

    However, that doesn’t mean we just throw up our hands and reconcile ourselves to hearing loss. Much of the work we do at fires and emergencies is done after the initial fast-paced, rescue and/or extinguishment activity. Once the fire is under control or the vehicle is stabilized, things slow down a little. That’s when we should consider whether hearing protection is appropriate.

    While each situation will differ, firefighters and supervisors should remember that it is long-term exposure that usually damages our hearing. We won’t be able to eliminate our exposure, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take steps to reduce it.

    Policy considerations for fire departments

    As I noted at the beginning, injuries have proximate causes and root causes. If proximate causes of hearing loss are all the loud noises we’re exposed to, the root cause is lack of effective steps to reduce exposure.

    All fire departments should have policies that outline hearing conservation programs and training, including:

    • A schedule and process for evaluating and monitoring noise levels in the workplace
    • Administrative and engineering controls to reduce noise exposure
    • The requirement that firefighters will wear PPE when noise levels cannot be adequately reduced
    • Annual audiometric testing and tracking for all exposed personnel
    • Initial and ongoing training for all members
    • Documentation of all the above

    When a member experiences a shift in hearing (discovered by comparison to past audiometric tests), your organization should perform a re-evaluation of the noise levels in the work environment and the adequacy of engineering controls and PPE. If you discover one or more processes are not being adequately addressed, further evaluation and training may be in order.

    Take it seriously

    Hearing is a precious sensory function for humans; living without it is not impossible, but it is difficult. We tend to take our hearing for granted when we have it, but go without it for a day and you’ll see how precious it becomes.

    Take your hearing conservation program seriously. You may save your brothers and sisters the heartache that comes from missing key parts of conversations, or not being able to experience music the same way.

    Or, in the case of those of us with tinnitus, knowing true silence is something we left on the fireground.

    About the Author

    Sean Stumbaugh is a management services representative for Lexipol - an IPSA Supporter. He retired in 2015 after 32 years in the American fire service, serving as battalion chief for the Cosumnes Fire Department in Elk Grove, Calif., as well as the El Dorado Hills (Calif.) Fire Department and the Freedom (Calif.) Fire District. 

    Sean has a master’s degree in Leadership and Disaster Preparedness from Grand Canyon University, a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science from Columbia Southern University, and an associate degree from Cabrillo College in Fire Protection Technology. In addition to his formal education, he is a Certified Fire Officer, Chief Officer, and Instructor III in the California State Fire Training certification program. Sean has taught numerous state fire training courses and has been an adjunct professor with Cosumnes River College in Sacramento.

    Sean is now continuing his career by serving as the volunteer Para- Chaplain for the Daisy Mountain Fire District in New River, AZ.

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