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2016 Officer Traffic Safety Winner
Hillsborough (NC) Police Department (27 sworn)
The Hillsborough Police Department (HPD) has conducted annual in-car driver training for all officers since 2000, and they developed a driving safety program, led by their chief, named “Slower is Faster.”
The training and the program covers a wide array of vehicle driving skills and challenges officer’s decision making while engaged in high stress driving. In addition to traditional vehicle skills such has braking, skidpans, and turns, the HPD focuses on decision-making and situational awareness. The HPD driver safety motto is “it’s easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.” To avoid trouble, HPD trains on their “Top 5 in car tactics which are, 1) vision and scanning; 2) early braking; 3) slowing down and maintaining a reactionary gap; 4) self-talk to perform better under pressure – what’s important now; 5) Breathing and relaxing.
HPD’s training course includes Decision Stations. These are a series of unpredictable challenges or obstacles that require officers to decide what to do based on visual cues down the road; promoting officers to look ahead. Distractions are also placed around the course so officers practice visual scanning techniques.
Volunteers with competitive motorsports backgrounds assist in the training and other departments are regularly invited to participate. Some of the training is actually held at a local go kart track to assist with some of the training focus areas.
In addition to this regular training, HPD utilizes the Below 100 program. The department has also overhauled their patrol vehicle paint scheme to increase conspicuity. They have implemented a distracted driving policy that restricts the use of electronic devices, such as cell phones and includes the Mobile Digital Computers (MDC) at certain times.
HPD also strictly enforces seatbelt usage amongst its officers and partnered with its insurance provider to produce a 27 minute safety video titled “Slower is Faster.” As a result of these steps the department is receiving the maximum insurance discount. The HPD has experienced only been three serious vehicle crashes since 2000, and there have been no crash related injuries or worker’s comp claims in the past five years.