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2016 Comprehensive Safety Finalist
Burlington (NC) Police Department (150 sworn)
In 2013, under new Chief Jeffery Smythe, Burlington PD embarked on a campaign to improve officer safety with the message of “We are not going to bury another.” The department instituted minimum staffing levels to ensure response safety. A mandatory vest policy was implemented and vests were upgraded to level IIIA. Officers were issued hard armor platecarriers, helmet, ballistic shields, and ballistic door panels were installed on the cruisers. Officers were provided lights for their handguns, new holsters, new duty flashlights and patrol vehicles were outfitted with chargers. The department authorized the carry of personally owned patrol rifles and expanded the issuance of department rifles in addition to qualified back up weapons. Officers get 100 rounds of practice ammunition per month and unlimited use to a virtual use of force simulator.
The department initiated a mandatory seatbelt policy and the installed push bumpers that reduce injuries during low speed collisions. Vehicle interiors were re-designed to increase visibility (Lexan glass instead of wire for transports), MDC stands and antennas were moved, and radar mounts secured so that they do not injure officers in collisions. Lighting packages were increased and high visibility traffic vests and gloves were issued. They department adopted Below 100 and created their own training curriculum to reduce crashes and show how to safely deploy stop sticks.
The department instituted a mandatory physical fitness program and constructed a $100,000 gym facility for all county first responders free of charge and officers can work out on duty. One officer created a workout program to prepare officers for their mandatory fitness standard. The department also has mandatory annual physicals, wellness classes, nutrition counseling and “How to eat on the Beat.” A free YMCA membership or $100 private gym voucher is also available. A peer support team and shooting team was created. There is a Police Chaplain program, employee assistance program (counseling, substance abuse referrals), and a fiscal management class. The department also offers educational incentives and tuition reimbursement, as well as flex scheduling for officers attending classes.