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"Wear This... Not This" Officer Belt Use Campaign

In August 2011, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) announced a new campaign aimed at getting officers to buckle up. Historically, more law enforcement officers are killed by traffic-related accidents (auto, motorcycle & bicycle crashes or being struck by a vehicle) than by any other cause, including being shot.* Automobile crashes alone are the #2 cause. But in spite of these facts, seat belt use among LEOs is lower than that of the general population.

Thanks to campaigns like Click It or Ticket and the efforts of law enforcement officers to get people to buckle up, seat belt use among the general population of the United States has reached a high of 84 percent (in 2009) – an increase of 65 percent since 1975. Usage of this device has saved more lives than any other vehicle safety program. Ironically, even though law enforcement officers are the group most responsible for helping to achieve this remarkably high level of usage, they are operating at approximately the country’s 1997 level of usage – around 65 percent.

The VACP is aiming to increase officer belt usage with a simple message – "Wear this, Not this" – over an image of an officer wearing a seat belt against an image of a shrouded badge, the universal symbol marking the death of an officer in the line of duty. The VACP's hope is that this stark image will make an impression on officers and get them to think about the risks they're taking by not buckling up.

Several agencies have already had CUSTOMIZED POSTERS created featuring their own officers, and the VACP is happy to accommodate this interest. If you'd like to have a poster made up for your agency featuring your own officers, please contact Erin Schrad at the VACP – or (804) 285-8227.  If you are simply interested in having some posters to display in your agency (regardless of agency represented in the poster), also contact Erin Schrad for more information.

Also inresponse to this alarming situation of low belt usage among officers, the International Association of Chiefs of Police has produced a roll-call training video titled "Is Today Your Day?IACP approached this video from the standpoint of the two groups most able to gain the attention of law enforcement officers: their professional partners and their families. Over a period of time, officers arguably share more face time and more personal details with their partners than with anyone else. Moreover, officers wish to return safely to their families after each and every shift. They are cognizant of the sacrifices that family members have made to support their careers. IACP harnessed the emotion that these two groups evoke in officers and allowed them to shed light on the consequences of officers’ failures to buckle up in "Is Today Your Day?"

This video was mailed to thousands of agencies across the country, but the IACP has also allowed the VACP to post it on their web site for officers to view on their own or for agencies and academies to stream in a training.

*Source: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund