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2019 Officer Traffic Safety Finalist
Livingston Parish (LA) Sheriff’s Office
The Livingston Parish (LA) Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) has 240 sworn and 65 civilian employees, serving an area that spans 703 square miles.
After decades of at-fault vehicle crashes and poor driving judgement resulting in injury and costly settlements, the LPSO instituted an incentive-based safe driving initiative. Deputies that go one year without an at-fault vehicle crash or incident were awarded one week of leave. This doubles the deputy’s standard one-week of leave per year.
All employees who operate office vehicles are required to attend a pursuit driving class and undergo regular retraining. The training involves practical driving on a track and classroom instruction. The training also includes how to safely operate fleet vehicles during everyday driving as well.
In January 2017, after a briefing on how much the office spends on fuel, tires, and maintenance, the Sheriff approved the installation of GPS devices in all office vehicles. The GPS devices record mileage, speed, and unsafe driving. The devices are regularly monitored to ensure regular maintenance is conducted and to check on the driving habits of the deputies. The devices are set to alert the Chief Deputy and system administrator when a vehicle exceeds 90mph. If an alert is received, dispatch and call logs are reviewed to see if the violation was justified. If it is deemed to be unjustified, the deputy has a meeting with the division commander which can result in disciplinary action, to include suspension or reassignment.
All deputies who operate a fleet vehicle are required to attend the NADA pursuit driving course. The course allows deputies to learn safe driving techniques and practice what is learned on a real track. This allows deputies the opportunity to improve their driving skills and gain confidence behind the wheel. To allow for all deputies to attend the training, the office sent members of the training staff to become trainers.
Because of their traffic safety initiative, the LPSO saw a dramatic decrease in at-fault crashes. In 2016, the year before the initiative, there were 25 at-fault crashes, 54 percent of all crashes involving Sheriff’s Office vehicles. In 2018, the year after the initiative started, the office had 12 at-fault crashes, or 36 percent of all crashes involving fleet vehicles. This represents a 28 percent decrease. At-fault damage costs dropped from 62 percent since the inception of the traffic safety initiative. The number of alerts due to speeding also decreased after the program was initiated. In 2017, the Chief Deputy received 4,782 alerts due to officers speeding above 90mph. In 2018, only 1,346 alerts were received.