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DATE: July 30, 2013 TO: Lt. Colonel James McGuffin FROM: Captain Burley Copeland, District 7 Motors

DATE:

July 30, 2013

 

TO:

Lt. Colonel James McGuffin

 

FROM:

Captain Burley Copeland, District 7 Motors

 

SUBJECT:

WRONG WAY DRIVERS COMMITTEE

FOR:

FOR: Action Decision Information Signature

Action

FOR: Action Decision Information Signature

Decision

FOR: Action Decision Information Signature

Information

FOR: Action Decision Information Signature

Signature

I was recently asked by you to form a committee to explore the issues associated with wrong way drivers. I was instructed to include representation from all three bureaus in the Highway Patrol Division. I decided that the committee would consist of one captain and one sergeant from each of the bureaus. I chose Sergeant Ryan Freeman and myself to represent the Metro Patrol Bureau. Captain Danny Golden and Sergeant Brad Elliot were chosen from the Northern Patrol Bureau, and Captain George Anderson and Sergeant Rudy Lujan were selected to represent the Southern Patrol Bureau.

The first meeting was scheduled for May 22, 2013 but this had to be postponed. Due to schedul- ing conflicts the committee did not meet until June 27, 2013, and all six members were present. Prior to this meeting, I conducted a considerable amount of research on this topic. I forwarded information to committee members including an investigative report about wrong way drivers that was completed by the National Traffic Safety Board.

From the beginning, the purpose of this committee was to develop recommendations about poli- cies, procedures and training concerning wrong way drivers. Because of this, two questions were discussed at the first meeting. First, should the Department adopt a new policy to deal with wrong way drivers, or are current policies sufficient. Secondly, should the Department develop a block of instruction to train officers how to deal with wrong way drivers or is the training that is currently being given sufficient to handle these types of situations.

Early in the first meeting a straw poll was conducted. Four of the six members agreed that this committee should recommend the development of a new general order addressing this issue. The two dissenting committee members believed that current policies and training were adequate. Af- ter a lengthy discussion, all six members agreed that the committee would move forward and cre- ate a draft general order and recommend that all officers receive specific training to deal with wrong way drivers. It was agreed that a block of instruction should be given during the annual AOT and new officers should be given this training in the Advanced Basic Academy. Develop- ing an SROVT block of instruction was also discussed, but it was believed that this type of train- ing offered no opportunity for interaction. At the conclusion of the first meeting, committee members were instructed to review all material that was provided, and they were asked to start working on a version of a draft general order.

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The next Wrong Way Drivers Committee meeting was held on July 17, 2013 at Knutson Station in Phoenix, and five of the six committee members were present. Sergeant Brad Elliot was una- ble to attend because of other training commitments, but he did send an electronic copy of a draft policy. During this meeting, committee members developed a one page draft general order, and it has been attached to this document.

Throughout the research process of this assignment it became clear to me that very few agencies have developed policies to deal with this issue. This belief is strengthened by the results of a spe- cial investigation that was conducted by the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) in 2012. A comprehensive report was compiled to document the results of this investigation. Most of the findings in this report mirrored my personal experiences and those of the other committee mem- bers. Wrong way crashes account for a relatively small percentage of traffic collisions, but they are much more likely to result in fatalities. About three to four hundred people die in wrong way crashes in the United States each year. This report also concludes that law enforcement needs to do more to train officers how they should deal with wrong way drivers. Specifically, the NTSB is requesting that the International Association of Chiefs of Police work with the National Sheriff’s Association to develop a best practices document to provide guidance to law enforcement officers summoned to respond to a wrong way movement on a divided highway. I strongly agree with the findings of the NTSB report, and I recommend that the Department adopt a general order specifi- cally addressing wrong way drivers. I also recommend that a block of instruction be developed to provide training for all current and future sworn officers.

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