A room full of deputies from various agencies, including Walton County, sits with their heads bowed. Bagpipes start playing “Amazing Grace” and the instructor asks the deputies to envision a church full of law enforcement officers, an American flag draped over a casket and the front row of the church lined with family members. According to the instructor, this type of scenario occurred 128 times last year for law enforcement officers all over the United States and 19 have been killed so far in 2013. The last time the number was under 100 was in 1944. Nearly 70 years later, administrators, supervisors and trainers are attempting to figure out what they can do to lower the numbers down below 100 again.
Innovations in training, emergency medicine and vehicles, as well as the development of ballistic armor, have all contributed to bringing the numbers down over the years but there are five points that have been identified in the Below 100 initiative that are focused at bringing the numbers down even further: wearing your seatbelt, wearing your ballistic vest, watching your speed, focusing on what is important right now, and never becoming complacent.
Sheriff Michael Adkinson fully backs the Below 100 initiative. “I believe in a fundamental obligation to the men and women in this Agency to insure they go home to their families.” His dedication to the safety of his deputies is evident. All deputies and investigators with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) are required to attend the training. The instructors for the course drive home the simple concepts of this course. “The Below 100 instructors provide great insight into the risks of this profession that can be reduced. Since we have identified these predictable behaviors, then we know it is preventable.”
The four hour class is being offered over a three day period in DeFuniak Springs, Chipley, and Marianna. To learn more about Below 100, go to www.below100.com. To pay respects to the law enforcement officers who lay down their lives each day to protect our towns and counties, go to www.odmp.org.