News

OPP Campaign to Reduce Officer-Involved Collisions

Submitted by S/Sgt. Chris Whaley, Provincial Manager, Specialized Patrol, Ontario Provincial Police

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is one of the largest deployed police agencies in North America. The OPP employs 6000 officers, 2600 civilians and 850 auxiliary members across the province of Ontario. Given our diverse geography, climate and communities, our members drive approximately 166 million kilometres annually.

Between 2003 and 2008, officers in the OPP were involved in collisions that claimed the lives of seven citizens and five officers. Over the last several years the OPP has implemented a collision reduction strategy that has focused on improved data collection, greater accountability, but most importantly, a heightened awareness for all front line members with respect to the risks associated with on-duty collisions.

Recognizing an opportunity, the OPP has partnered with the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) to develop the Preventing Officer Involved Collisions e-learning module. Traditional driver training focuses on improving physical skills behind the wheel such as emergency braking, skid control and "shuffle steering". The vast majority of officers already know how to drive as it is a requirement of their employment. What some officers have difficulty managing are distractions and the overall risk associated with driving a police vehicle.

Recently retired Commissioner Julian Fantino, who spearheaded this initiative, indicated, "The module developed by CPKN is not intended to be a substitute for driver training. It is a terrific opportunity to get our best information to officers in an efficient manner. It is through this e-learning module that we hope to see better decisions behind the wheel. Better decisions means fewer crashes."

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Other POIC Mandatory Training Initiatives

In addition to the Ontario Provincial Police, several other agencies have made Preventing Officer Involved Collisions a mandatory training event, including:

The London Police Service has enrolled 589 members, including Senior Officers (Command Staff) and Cadets, to the course. Each member has been given 'on duty' time to complete the course.

Following service-wide delivery of Recognition of Emotionally Disturbed Persons in 2009, Halifax Regional Police Service has now registered 500+ sworn police officers to POIC. S/Sgt. Lindsay Hernden, HRPS Training Division, believes "this training will positively impact both police and public safety."

Truro Police Service and Amherst Police Department are also conducting force-wide POIC training events. More than 60 officers from all divisions of these services are taking part.