Alabama State Trooper Steve McWaters discusses safe driving with area law enforcement agencies during a safety course at the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center Wednesday. | Robert Hudson
Alabama State Trooper Steve McWaters discusses safe driving with area law enforcement agencies during a safety course at the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center Wednesday. | Robert Hudson

Archived Story

Staying safe in the line of duty

Published 8:47pm Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sometimes it is the little things that keep officers and the citizens they are sworn to protect safe, and area law enforcement is making sure it stresses the importance of those seemingly minor details.

The Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department and Alabama State Troopers teamed up Wednesday for a four-hour training and instructional course on officer safety.

Lt. Bill Hough, chief investigator and training officer for the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department, said the course is a nationwide effort to help decrease the number of on-duty deaths of law-enforcement personnel.

“It’s a nationwide initiative to lower the active-duty deaths of law enforcement officers around the country. We’re training officers from around the state,” Hough said. “Here today, we’ve had Alabama Marine Police, Goodwater PD, Lanett PD, Alex City Housing, state troopers, Alex City Police Department, Camp Hill Police and Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department. We have a wide array of officers.”

State Trooper Steve McWaters of the Alexander City Post instructed during the course showing officers how accidents can occur and result in the loss of life of officers and civilians.

Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said the training has a goal of educating officers and lowering the number of on-duty deaths nationwide to it’s lowest number in decades.

“One of the things that we try to do is educate our people in our department, as well as educate the local area, and that’s the reason we come together with the troopers to offer the program,” Abbett said. “It’s a nationwide program, and we’re trying to reduce the line-of-duty deaths below 100, which was last done in 1944.”

According to Abbett, in the last five years, 22 of those deaths nationwide have been because of accidents in the line of duty.

Abbett said simple steps can be taken to prevent a significant number of those deaths.

“It’s around the five tenants that we talk about: Wear your vest, wear your seat belt, watch your speed, what’s important to you, and also complacency,” Abbett said. “This class gives them a sense of how accidents contribute to a lot of the line-of-duty deaths, which we can overcome with this training.”

Abbett added officers are being taught the importance of always being aware and alert of their surroundings.

“Complacency actually kills. In the law enforcement field, sometimes we get complacent – we don’t wear seat belts, we speed – and this is just a reminder to these people that it could be you or your partner sitting next to you because of not wearing your belt or speeding,” Abbett said. “It’s just a proactive focus on training. I’m very proud that we’ve had about 60 officers here from this county and surrounding counties.”

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