Necessary Truths about Police Safety

For the local government management audience, the March PM cover story by Darrel Stephens and Leonard Matarese titled “The Necessary Truths about Police Safety” calls attention to the huge and often underreported costs to local governments from police officer injuries and illnesses. 

Injured-on-duty costs are a problem for most police agencies, regardless of size. In smaller agencies, however, the costs can be financially troubling. There are approximately 18,000 police agencies in the United States. Of these, approximately 49 percent have nine or fewer officers; some 13,100 of these agencies have 24 or fewer officers. A good number of ICMA members manage agencies of this size.

For the vast majority of local agencies, a loss of one or two officers, even for a relatively short term, can dramatically increase costs for overtime needed to cover minimum manning requirements. In a 20-officer department, covering two vacant positions through overtime can add 15 percent to personnel costs.

Far too often police officer injuries are accepted as “just part of a dangerous job.” In reality, a meaningful risk management program in police departments can reduce injuries and associated costs. Accomplishing this will require leadership not only from the police chief but also from the local government’s chief administrator. Establishing a culture of safety can be one of the primary goals of any department and an area that appointed administrators and elected officials can insist be a critical performance measure.

For more information and specific citations, read the March PM article.

The issue also includes these three exclusive PMplus articles: “Hard Work That Pays Off,” “Managing in a Labor Contract Void,” and “Traffic Impact Safety Research.”

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