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2017 Comprehensive Safety Winner
Burlington (NC) Police Department
In 2013, under newly appointed Chief Jeffery Smythe, the 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 plate carriers, helmets, ballistic shields, and ballistic door panels were installed on the cruisers.
The department initiated a mandatory seatbelt policy and 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. All department patrol vehicles are now outfitted with magnetic microphone mounts, which allow officers to simply get the in-car radio microphone near it and then let go, rather than searching for a clip to re-seat the microphone while driving.
The department fully implemented a new patrol schedule which features permanent shifts. This allows officers to have larger blocks of time off with family while allowing overlapping coverage at peak times in the city. The shifts have gotten shorter on this schedule, moving down from a 12-hour shift to a 10-hour shift, which decreases officer fatigue and burnout. The department has taken advantage of the overlapping shift coverage caused by the new patrol schedule and is using it to offer large amounts of training to officers in multiple areas with the goal of increasing officer safety and professionalism