SAFER WAY AWARD

Nomination Criteria
PursuitSAFETY’s Safer Way Award® recognizes law enforcement officers and department leaders from the United States and Canada who reduce reliance on vehicular police pursuits by finding safer ways to apprehend suspects.

PursuitSAFETY thanks XHAUSTR Industries for its support of the award. They presented an XHAUSTR Kit to the Safer Way Award winners, beginning in 2016.

Questions? Contact the program’s administrator, Rich Schardan (Ret. Maryville, IL, Police Chief). E-mail: saferwayaward@pursuitsafety.org.

Volunteer’s Idea Becomes Reality
A PursuitSAFETY volunteer + an idea = The Safer Way Award
Volunteer Michelle Toon Kamel submitted the idea and a proposal for the Safer Way Award to PursuitSAFETY. The PursuitSAFETY Advisory Board immediately supported Michelle’s idea. Everyone understood why this award was needed: to save the lives of innocent bystanders and police officers.

Michelle became involved with PursuitSAFETY after the death of her uncle, Johnny Kallmeyer, an innocent bystander, killed as a result of a police pursuit in Ohio, September 2, 2007.

Award Recipients by Year
For five years PursuitSAFETY has given its annual Safer Way Award to caring, responsible law enforcement officers. We are grateful to these officers, who work very hard to make our roads safer for all of us. Scroll down this column to see who they are and what they did.

  • 2015 Safer Way Award® Winners

    Chicago Officers Earn Safer Way Award
    Tactical Team of Four Conducts
    High-Risk Traffic Stop and Prevents Chase

    The officers’ nomination was based on several elements. The most important action taken was the decision by officers Larry Brezinski and Tomasz Zatora, in an unmarked unit, not to attempt an apprehension while on the expressway. An attempt to apprehend three armed subjects in a vehicle who just committed a violent felony offense has a strong probability of a high-speed pursuit.
    We believe the officers prevented a pursuit and kept the public and themselves safe with their actions. The officers’ communications after locating and then following the suspect vehicle to a tactical location and the wisdom to wait for support from officers Ronni Kane and Alex Zayasto conduct a high-risk traffic stop indicates the professionalism of the officers. Every decision made was motivated by safety; from their clear communications, the stop location, and the procedure used to successfully apprehend the armed suspects.

    2015 Pursuit Safety Award Recipients Chicago Police

    At the IACP 122nd Conference and Exposition (from left) PursuitSAFETY’s advisory board member and Safer Way Award administrator, Ret. Chief Rich Schardan; Chicago Commander George Devereux, Sgt. Tim Bridges, Officers Larry Brezinski, Tomasz Zatora, Ronni Kane, and Alex Zayas; PursuitSAFETY founder Candy Priano; and Chicago Police Capt. Paul Bauer. These Chicago officers represent District 18.

    Law Enforcement’s Finest

    Chicago Police Sgt. Tim Bridges wrote to thank everyone involved in PursuitSAFETY’s Safer Way Award program for the work we do to help reduce deaths and injuries as a result of police pursuits.

    The sergeant’s letter will be placed among the organization’s keepsakes. Sgt. Bridges noted that he and the officers were grateful for “the kindness that you showed to all of us with the beautiful lunch that we shared together and the wonderful ceremony, hosted in Chicago, that made the award very special to us. We will cherish the memory of your visit.”

    Esther Seoanes, Chief Rich Schardan, and Candy Priano felt the same as one can see by these pictures below. Esther and Candy barely opened their gift bags from the officers before they had the CPD caps on their heads. “We were all blessed that day,” Candy said.
    Image below:

    Image Caption: Press Release: August 24, 2015
    Chicago’s Tactical Team Earns PursuitSAFETY Award

    CHICAGO—A Chicago police sergeant recalls how his officers were “proactive” and “vigilant” when responding to the “flash messages” they received about a fatal shooting that occurred in November 2014.

    The subsequent arrest of three armed offenders conducted by four Chicago police officers, a tactical team involved in gang violence reduction, stood out among the submissions for the 2015 PursuitSAFETY Safer Way Award.

    PursuitSAFETY, a national nonprofit organization working to reduce the number of vehicular police pursuits, will present its annual award to officers Larry Brezinski, Ronni Kane, Tomasz Zatora, and Alex Zayas of the Chicago Police Department, District 18. The officers will receive their individual awards during the Highway Safety Awards ceremony at the 122nd Annual Conference and Exposition of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago in October.
    Conservative estimates based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data count one American per day dying as a result of a police pursuit. At least one-third of those killed are innocent bystanders. On average, pursuit crashes kill one officer every six to eight weeks.

    The Safer Way
    Sergeant Tim Bridges stated that a driving force behind the safe arrest of these armed suspects was that “the officers covertly positioned themselves to intercept the offenders’ vehicle at the most likely route of escape.” Bridges added that the situation ended safely because of the officers’ training, dedication to duty, and keen alertness.

    On the night of November 16, 2014, a call came through stating that shots had been fired. Next, a flash alert announced the description of the vehicle in which the alleged suspects escaped.

    Zatora and Brezinski, who were in an unmarked car, decided to head to a nearby highway entrance reasoning that the assailants would use the highway to make their escape. The officers were right and observed a car matching the description drive onto the freeway. They immediately called for backup and followed the suspects without activating their lights and siren.

    Kane and Zayas in their marked cruiser answered the call for assistance where — together with Zatora and Brezinski — they curbed the suspects and completed the high-risk felony traffic stop. Both sets of partners assembled themselves into a high-risk traffic stop position, which was the safest choice, knowing that the suspects were armed. With the officers in commanding positions, the suspects complied with the officers’ orders.

    “They followed protocol to the letter,” Bridges said. “Every decision that they made was motivated by safety; from their clear communications over the radio and with each other to the way that they positioned their vehicles during the stop.”

    The vehicles were staggered behind one another, providing clear lines of fire for the officers and a limited field of vision for the suspects. Once the officers got out of their vehicles, they stood behind their doors, using them as shields, and then approached, shining bright flashlights into the suspects’ faces.

    “The felony stop was conducted perfectly,” explained Kane, an 11-year veteran, who pursued her law enforcement career to help and serve others after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. “We set up right next to them but slightly behind. All four officers were out of the cars and positioned for maximum protection. We could jump back in the vehicles if it came to that. Thankfully, the suspects complied with all the verbal commands, and we took them into custody without any problems.”

    When recounting the experience, Brezinski recalled several moments that felt like “forever,” such as waiting to spot the vehicle at the freeway entrance and planning our approach to the vehicle that had dark tinted windows. “If my partner and I had walked up to the vehicle by ourselves, without the backup, I think that we would have been shot. The suspect in the backseat had two guns ready to go, and we initially did not know he was there,” Brezinski said.
    Zatora focused on the team’s strategy to avoid pursuits whenever possible, stating how they have successfully apprehended other violent offenders who are now serving time in prison for their crimes. “Our strategy is to follow offenders in an unmarked car after we receive confirmation that we have identified the right vehicle. We wait for them to park and then make the arrest,” he said.

    Team Effort
    After the arrest was complete, Zatora and Brezinski visited a church to say a quick prayer of thanks for the safety of all involved and for the job that they were able to do. “We have a great team because of the leadership of Sergeant Bridges and Lieutenant David Case, and we are excited to share this moment with them,” Zayas added.

    All four officers will be in attendance to accept their 2015 Safer Way Award. “We usually don’t get pats on the back, so this is great. We’re excited about it,” said Brezinski.

    Retired Maryville, Illinois, Chief Richard Schardan, Sr., who administers the Safer Way Award program, commented, “The Chicago officers used their individual judgment. I believe the message is that officers can make excellent decisions in putting public safety first and still make a violent felony arrest. The decisions of the involved officers were more important than technology and policy.”

    About the author: Rhett Dunlap is a freelance writer. He conducted phone interviews with Officers Zatora, Brezinski, Kane, and Zayas. Contact him at rhettbdunlap@gmail.com.
    Candy Priano, the founder of PursuitSAFETY, contributed to this article.

  • 2014 Safer Way Award® Winners

    Port Angeles Captures Felon—No Pursuit
    Small Department Shows How Interagency Approach Prevents Police Pursuits

    Honored for Making Our Roads Safer
    (L-R) PursuitSAFETY Advisory Board member Ret. Capt. Thomas Gleason, Port Angeles Cpl. David Dombrowski, Esther Seoanes; Port Angeles Deputy Chief Brian Smith, Candy Priano, and Sgt. Glen Roggenbuck (inset) who was unable to attend the award ceremony at the IACP Conference, Orlando, Oct. 28, 2014.

    By Ellen Deitz Tucker
    PursuitSAFETY Media Relations Associate Press Release: October 14, 2014

    CHICO, CA—PursuitSAFETY, a national nonprofit working to reduce the incidence of avoidable police pursuits, has announced the 2014 winners of its Safer Way Award. Sergeant Glen Roggenbuck and Corporal David Dombrowski of the Port Angeles, Washington Police Department will be honored for the arrest of a violent felon which they carefully planned and executed to avoid a police pursuit. The Safer Way Award recognizes law enforcement agencies and officers who prevent dangerous vehicular pursuits by using innovative methods of suspect apprehension.

    “Police vehicular pursuits pose more danger to the law-abiding public than any other law enforcement tactic, while at the same time posing one of the greatest risks to police themselves,” said Jonathan Farris, chairman of the PursuitSAFETY board. Conservative estimates based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data count one American per day dying as a result of a police pursuit. One-third of those killed are innocent bystanders; one in nine is a law enforcement officer.

    How Port Angeles Planned Ahead

    In Port Angeles, a city of slightly under 20,000 on the nation’s northwest border, an interagency team led by Sgt. Roggenbuck executed a felony arrest warrant for David Markishtum in September 2009. The operation attracted the attention of PursuitSAFETY because of careful precautions taken to demobilize the suspect’s vehicle. “We’ve done other high-risk arrests,” said Cpl. Dombrowski, “but in those cases the suspect did not have a known vehicle or we could not get close to it safely. This time we ‘spiked’ the vehicle.” The officers placed spike strips — tire deflation devices — behind the wheels of Markishtum’s vehicle to prevent his flight.

    Two hours after learning Markishtum was hiding in a Port Angeles residence, Sgt. Roggenbuck had assembled a team from area agencies, planned the arrest, and briefed and deployed officers to form a perimeter around the suspect, who had parked his SUV next to an alley behind the house where he hid. Concerned that Markishtum might flee out the back door and into his car when he saw police, Roggenbuck had officers station cruisers to block the entrance to the alley and to both corners of the street in front, while placing the spike strips behind the tires of the SUV.

    Cpl. Dombrowski, a trained crisis negotiator, drove into the front yard and used a PA system to talk the suspect into surrendering. The suspect emerged from the house with his hands behind his head after only ten minutes.

    Inspiration for the Safer Way Award

    “Innocent bystanders have been killed when arrest warrants were executed without forethought and pursuits ensued,” said Candy Priano, founder and executive director of PursuitSAFETY. “Five years ago, the niece of a bystander killed by a fleeing driver began tracking stories of departments who worked carefully to prevent pursuits. This volunteer, Michelle Toon, brought the expert work of the Port Angeles department to our attention, suggesting that we honor officers who prevent unnecessary tragedy.”

    PursuitSAFETY decided to take a closer look at the department whose story inspired the Safer Way Award. “We found a professionally run department that has taken many measures to prevent or quickly conclude pursuit situations,” Priano said.

    Leveraging Interagency Cooperation

    Deputy Police Chief Brian Smith told PursuitSAFETY that emergency situations are not uncommon in Port Angeles, which is not only the Olympic Peninsula’s major port and host to a ferry service with Victoria, British Columbia, but also a gateway to the 1,442 square-mile Olympic National Park. Smith described a 2011 police pursuit that began to the city’s southwest and entered the national park. Although the Clallam County officer who first tried to hail the speeder soon discontinued pursuit, National Park rangers picked the pursuit up again. It only ended when the fleeing driver left the park, entered Port Angeles, and drove over a spike strip that Sgt. Roggenbuck threw in the driver’s path.

    But such dangerous situations are not daily occurrences, either, Smith explained. Especially in smaller cities, “Police deal with high-risk, low-frequency events.” To cope with this aspect of the job, Cpl. Dombrowski said, “we train! Not just within our department — also at the interagency level.”

    Indeed, vehicular pursuits are complicated in most of the nation by overlapping law enforcement jurisdictions which have different pursuit policies. Port Angeles usually avoids this problem. It has joined with nine other area agencies, including neighboring city police departments, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Department, the Lower Elwha Tribal Police, local divisions of the US Border Patrol and the Washington State Patrol, and a joint narcotics task force to conduct regular Emergency Vehicle Operations courses (EVOC). These cover driving, decision-making and communication. “When all the agencies train together, using each other’s certified instructors, you’re more likely to be on the same page,” Smith said.

    Roggenbuck credited Smith for leading the interagency group to adopt an “incident command structure” — as recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association — that “guides us through the planning process” when responding to emergencies. Communication among agencies is good also, Roggenbuck said. “We work together almost every day. I don’t think the first time I sit down to talk with a member of another agency should be in the middle of an emergency.”

    Given that almost any vehicular pursuit in the area is likely to cross jurisdictions, members of the EVOC group agreed to use the same radio frequency. This is key in tactics used to end pursuits safely, for example by directing an officer to get ahead of the fleeing driver and throw a spike strip in his path, as Roggenbuck did in 2011. In Port Angeles’ EVOC group, any officer deploying a spike strip must “be in voice contact with the lead or secondary officer in the pursuit, getting real-time information,” Smith said. “We all wear very expensive radios on our belts that allow us to talk to each other.” The Port Angeles Department also decided to equip all its marked cruisers with “Opticom” devices that turn the traffic lights in a pursuit path green.

    “When under stress, officers will revert to their training. So we have an obligation to train our officers and give them the equipment they need,” said Port Angeles Police Chief Terry Gallagher. His department also emphasizes careful supervision and review. After each police pursuit, the shift supervisor writes a memo detailing the circumstances and the decision-making process the officer followed in deciding whether to allow or end the pursuit, and this memo is reviewed by superiors.

    Retired Maryville, Illinois Chief Richard Schardan, Sr., who administers the Safer Way Award, commented on the decision to single out an incident of careful police work from 2009. “The Safer Way Award, although now in its fourth year, is a relatively new award to the law enforcement community. Previously we have honored large departments who reviewed and reformed their pursuit policies.

    “This year we wanted to recognize a smaller department whose forward-thinking approach provides a model for other agencies,” Schardan said. “Port Angeles has learned to leverage its resources by working through the interagency process. This enables them to train and equip officers to safely manage the situations that too often, in too many jurisdictions around the nation, trigger pursuits.”

    The award will be presented October 28th at the 121st Annual Conference and Exposition of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando, FL.

    (About the author: Ellen Deitz Tucker is a freelance writer and editor who serves as Media Relations Associate for PursuitSAFETY. She traveled to Port Angeles to interview the Chief and Deputy Chief and other officers. Ellen’s sister Donna Deitz died as an innocent bystander to a 2012 police pursuit in Belmont, NC. Contact Deitz Tucker at ellendeitztucker@gmail.com)

    About PursuitSAFETY
    PursuitSAFETY is the only national nonprofit civilian organization working to reduce deaths and injuries of innocent bystanders and police officers as a result of vehicular police pursuit and response call crashes. We are working for a safer way through educational outreach to the public and to law enforcement and by uniting families of innocent victims.

    Law Enforcement’s Finest
    Washington State Patrol Chief Commends Officers

    Top Cop, Chief John R. Batiste of the Washington State Patrol added something extra for this year’s Safer Way Award winners. He not only congratulated “his” officers, but asked for a photo op with (L-R) Port Angeles, WA, Cpl. David Dombrowski and Deputy Chief Brian Smith.

    Chief Batiste received the prestigious J. Stannard Baker Award for outstanding individual lifetime contributions to highway safety at the IACP awards ceremony and also commended PursuitSAFETY for its work.

    Image Caption:Debbie Cain of Sequim, WA, which is 20 miles from Port Angeles, and her son, California Highway Patrol Investigator Ryan Cain (right), congratulated the Safer Way Award winners. Investigator Cain received the 2014 Vehicle Theft Award of Merit — Individual Recognition.

    … More to the Story
    Along with the Port Angeles department, the Sequim Police Department belongs to an interagency group that conducts joint Emergency Vehicle Operation training on common pursuit procedures and practices. Sequim is also part of PenCom, the communications system centered at the Port Angeles Police Department. Debbie Cain expressed pride that Port Angeles and Sequim are among “the best and safest communities to live in.”

  • 2013 Safer Way Award® Winner

    LVMPD Promotes A Safer Way
    Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department honored

    LVMPD Lt. John Farrell (second left) and Sgt. Dave Sims receive the 2013 Safer Way Award during the Highway Safety Awards Breakfast at the IACP annual Conference and Exposition in 2013. Representing PursuitSAFETY are Ret. Minneapolis Police Chief Timothy Dolan (far left) and Candy Priano.

    By Ellen Tucker
    PursuitSAFETY Media Relations Associate Press Release: October 31, 2013
    CHICO, CA—PursuitSAFETY presented its 2013 Safer Way Award® to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) during the 120th International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Conference at the Highway Safety Awards Breakfast in Philadelphia on October 22.

    PursuitSAFETY each year recognizes law enforcement leaders in the area of vehicular pursuit safety. These areas include those who have made significant, well-designed revisions to its vehicular pursuit practice and policy, increasing safety both for police officers and the responsible driving public. The organization also provides much-needed support to bereaved families and injured innocent victims of vehicular police pursuits.

    LVMPD Lt. John Farrell (pictured right) was instrumental in the development of his department’s progressive pursuit training methodology, and Sgt. Dave Sims received the award on behalf of the LVMPD. Retired Minneapolis Police Chief Timothy Dolan, who serves on PursuitSAFETY’s advisory board, and PursuitSAFETY founder and executive director Candy Priano made the award presentation.
    Priano said the LVMPD nomination exemplified the thoughtful, innovative approach needed to apprehend offenders without endangering the driving public. “We all understand that drivers who flee from the police do not behave rationally or responsibly,” Priano noted. “The public depends on law enforcement to exercise caution, restraint, and good judgment.”

    In nominating his agency for the award, LVMPD Deputy Chief Gary Schofield detailed a series of targeted strategies that “have significantly reduced the number of pursuits and . . . provided a training and awareness level second to none.” Schofield said the LVMPD began a review of its pursuit practices in 2004, a year in which 260 pursuits occurred. By 2009, the number of pursuits had been reduced to 57, but three fatal collisions resulting from pursuits prompted another comprehensive review, which led to a new Safe Driving Policy.

    To better implement the policy, the department appointed a Pursuit Review Committee in 2011. This team studied actual pursuits that officers in the department had conducted. Their study revealed that the department’s “supervisors, both Sergeants and Lieutenants, needed a clearer understanding of how to handle a pursuit in real time,” Schofield said.

    That year, the department implemented a training program for higher-ranking officers, focused on listening to and analyzing radio dispatches between duty officers and their supervisors. The training helps supervisors identify the information that needs to be communicated as potential pursuit scenarios unfold.

    The next year, the Pursuit Review Committee developed a new “Pursuit Awareness” course for lower-ranking officers and new sergeants, also providing it at no cost to neighboring law enforcement agencies. Pursuits that begin in other jurisdictions can enter LVMPD’s territory and vice versa, Schofield noted.
    Schofield said the class emphasizes that crimes warranting risky vehicular pursuits must meet a clear threshold of threat to the public: the fleeing driver must have committed a violent felony and officers must have no “safer alternative” for apprehending the suspect. With officers trained to meet this standard, the number of pursuits in 2012 dropped to 34, a 41% reduction in three years.

    This policy has not resulted in an increased crime rate, Farrell said. “We are still capturing about 80% of all drivers who run from police,” he stated, adding that when helicopter support is available, “we catch suspects 90% of the time, regardless of whether we pursue or not.” To illustrate how air support helps, Farrell cited the capture of a car theft suspect who failed to yield to an officer. The officer disengaged and called in air support as the suspect continued on his way at normal speeds, stopping at traffic lights. Tracked to an auto dealership, the suspect was arrested after he bailed out of the stolen car and attempted to flee on foot.

    Farrell explained to PursuitSAFETY that the training program is regularly updated and refined. “The LVMPD Pursuit Review Committee looks at every pursuit, not for discipline reasons, but to identify training issues or concerns that need to be addressed,” he wrote in an email. “These training issues are then put into the Pursuit Awareness course or bulletins to officers and discussed at length. The whole purpose of the course is to ensure that police officers are receiving up-to-date relevant training on pursuits and their driving ability.”

    Dolan commended the LVMPD for studying their own pursuit experiences so as to determine how to revise policy and practice. This self-examination results in “good common sense procedures that protect us all,” he said.
    Priano said she particularly likes the department’s daily “Vehicular Safety” reminder that populates each officer’s computer screen when they log on each day. The short reminder may offer safe driving tips, statistics related to driving conduct, or short video clips regarding risk.
    Maryville, IL, Police Chief Richard Schardan, Sr., the award program administrator, expressed admiration for the LVMPD. “It is heartwarming to see a department realize that safety to the public is more important than the immediate apprehension of non-violent offenders. I hope all departments will follow the professionalism and leadership of the LVMPD.”

    The LVMPD is one of a growing number of law enforcement agencies around the country that have implemented restrictive pursuit policies. In Texas, for example, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) adopted a model pursuit policy backed by training and accountability procedures in 2006. The department prohibits pursuits for any offense other than a violent felony. In commendation of this clearly written and enforced policy, PursuitSAFETY presented the Dallas department its 2012 Safer Way Award. In 2011, the St. Louis County Police Department received the first Safer Way Award for apprehending a gang of car burglars without a pursuit. Instead, they used good detective work and “spike sticks” tire deflation devices — that they deployed at the exits to the rest area after the suspects drove into the rest area and
    burglarized an unoccupied vehicle. St. Louis County detectives returned stolen items to the gang’s last victims and to other victims from previous burglaries.

    PursuitSAFETY’s board members review nominations for the award before submitting them to the Highway Safety Committee of the IACP, who make the final selection. The committee will judge the 2014 nominees based on achievements prior to and through the year 2013. The submission period for PursuitSAFETY’s 2014 Safer Way Award® will begin February 1, 2014 and end March 31, 2014.

    About PursuitSAFETY
    PursuitSAFETY is the only national nonprofit civilian organization working to reduce deaths and injuries of innocent bystanders and police officers as a result of vehicular police pursuit and response call crashes. We are working for a safer way through educational outreach to the public and to law enforcement and by uniting families of innocent victims.

    Policy, Training & Reviews
    Civilian national nonprofit recognizes law enforcement leaders for vehicular pursuit safety

    On behalf of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Lt. John Farrell submitted a package of training information with his nomination form for the 2013 Safer Way Award. PursuitSAFETY’s Safer Way Award® recognizes officers and law enforcement departments that use innovative ways to avoid police pursuits and yet bring about the apprehension of the suspect(s).

    LVMPD spells out its strategy for reducing the number of vehicular police pursuits in the following documents:

    Comparative Analysis of Vehicular Pursuits

    The LVMPD class emphasizes that crimes warranting risky vehicular pursuits must meet a clear threshold of threat to the public: the fleeing driver must have committed a violent felony and officers must have no “safer alternative” for apprehending the suspect. With officers trained to meet this standard, the number of pursuits in 2012 dropped to 34, a 41% reduction in three years.

    2013 Pursuit Awareness Training
    The department implemented a training program for higher-ranking officers, focused on listening to and analyzing radio dispatches between duty officers and their supervisors. The training helps supervisors identify the information that needs to be communicated as potential pursuit scenarios unfold.

    Control, I am in pursuit…

    The LVMPD policy has not resulted in an increased crime rate, Lt. Farrell said. “We are still capturing about 80% of all drivers who run from police,” he stated, adding that when helicopter support is available, “we catch suspects 90% of the time, regardless of whether we pursue or not.” To illustrate how air support helps, Lt. Farrell cited the capture of a car theft suspect who failed to yield to an officer. The officer disengaged and called in air support as the suspect continued on his way at normal speeds, stopping at traffic lights. Tracked to an auto dealership, the suspect was arrested after he bailed out of the stolen car and attempted to flee on foot.

    Lt. Farrell explained to PursuitSAFETY that the training program is regularly updated and refined. “The LVMPD Pursuit Review Committee looks at every pursuit, not for discipline reasons, but to identify training issues or concerns that need to be addressed,” he wrote in an email. “These training issues are then put into the Pursuit Awareness course or bulletins to officers and discussed at length. The whole purpose of the course is to ensure that police officers are receiving up-to-date relevant training on pursuits and their driving ability.”

  • 2012 Safer Way Award® Winner

    Dallas Police Department Receives ‘Safer Way Award’
    National nonprofit recognizes law enforcement leaders in the area of vehicular pursuit safety.


    (L-R) Maryville, Illinois, Police chief Rich Schardan, Dallas Police assistant chief Randall Blankenbaker, and PursuitSAFETY executive director Candy Priano pose for the cameras after the presentation of the 2012 PursuitSAFETY “Safer Way Award.”

    Press Release
    September 25, 2012
    Editor’s note: On Oct. 3, the Dallas Police promoted Randall Blankenbaker to assistant chief. CHICO, CA—PursuitSAFETY, a national nonprofit public safety organization, announces that the Dallas Police Department will receive the 2012 PursuitSAFETY “Safer Way Award.” The organization recognizes the department’s lifesaving tactical apprehension policy and training designed to provide officers with a legitimate, sanctioned methodology for apprehending offenders without a vehicular pursuit.

    Dallas Deputy Chief Randall Blankenbaker will receive the award on behalf of the department at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in San Diego, during the Highway Safety Awards Breakfast on October 2.

    “It is an honor to recognize the Dallas Police Department for striking the right balance between vehicular police pursuits and apprehension, and by implementing policies which reduce potential harm to innocent drivers, passengers, and bystanders, as well as the officers themselves,” said the organization’s founder and executive director, Candy Priano.

    Deputy Chief Blankenbaker (pictured right) said, “The policy and training remind officers that alternatives to pursuit exist and that additional resources are available to bring offenders to justice in a safer, more controlled manner. I believe the Dallas Police Department pursuit policy to be one of the best in the nation. It has proven to save lives. I would hope that this recognition might encourage other agencies to develop similar policies.”

    In 2006, the Dallas Police Department instituted a prohibition on all pursuits except for violent felonies. In the two years prior to the change, vehicular pursuit crashes resulted in six fatalities, four of whom were bystanders in the respective pursuits. Other pursuit crashes caused 39 injuries.

    In the year after the change, however, the number of pursuits dropped from 354 in one year to 70, with no fatalities in the subsequent year. Of those injuries suffered in the remaining pursuits, none required transport to a hospital.

    Building on this success, the department developed alternatives to otherwise unnecessarily dangerous pursuits, such as using plain-clothed officers to direct marked units to places where offenders abandon vehicles, and by selectively deploying tire deflation devices to terminate pursuits.
    The department has fostered accountability by keeping its commitment to reviewing its policies and monitoring its officers’ compliance, not least by installing 93 percent of its patrol fleet with video cameras, on route to its goal of 100 percent.
    Consistent with this effort, the department deploys a Digital Video Recorder Team to review incidents, with the goal of commending and reinforcing outstanding action, while identifying areas for improvement and better training.

    The IACP Highway Safety Committee judged the nominations received through the PursuitSAFETY.org web site. Maryville, IL, Police Chief Richard Schardan, Sr., the award
    program administrator, expressed his personal appreciation to all of the departments that submitted nominations, including two others of note.

    “The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s pursuit policy is another commendable model,” said Chief Schardan, who also acknowledged a nomination submitted on behalf of two Chicago officers.

    Chicago Police 18th District police officers Tomasz Zatora and Matthew Wagner used restraint, sound instincts and skillful tactics to protect the public when they responded to a shooting in which they received registration information regarding the offenders’ vehicle.

    Thereafter, when the officers identified the offender driving at a normal speed, the officers inferred that enough time had passed that the offender had likely disposed of the gun.

    Accordingly, the officers, rather than reflexively initiate a vehicular pursuit, radioed for back up. They waited for the suspect’s car to exit an expressway and pull into a gas station, before executing a successful arrest.

    In 2011, PursuitSAFETY presented its first “Safer Way Award” to the St. Louis County Police Department for apprehending car burglars without a pursuit.

    These departments’ efforts reduced the number of fatalities and injuries to innocent bystanders and police officers by using other methods to apprehend suspects. In short: a safer way.

    It’s About Policy
    Dallas Police Department
    Emergency Vehicle Operations

    PursuitSAFETY founding advisory board member Dr. Geoffrey Alpert surprised us by attending the presentation of the 2012 PursutSAFETY Safer Way Award.

    Dallas assistant chief Randall Blankenbaker and Chief Rich Schardan, also an advisory board member were pleased to hear Geoff say, “I would not have missed this award presentation.” Geoff, an international authority on high-risk police activities, was teaching educational sessions at the IACP Conference.

  • 2011 Safer Way Award® Winners

    PursuitSAFETY presented its 2011 Safer Way Award to the St. Louis County Police Department in recognition of the work done by two detectives, Justin Adams and John Conrardy.

    Using their training, these detectives apprehended thieves who were known for fleeing from the police without a pursuit. They knew the thieves would wait at a rest stop to break into unattended, locked cars, stealing items such as iPhones and cameras. St. Louis County detectives, looking for a safe way to apprehend these thieves, said, “Let’s find another way.” They captured the suspects without a chase, and the criminals are now serving time in prison. St. Louis County Police Captain Lawrence Stulce shares the full story in the video below.

    In 2010, St. Louis County Chief Tim Fitch had heard Candy Priano, PursuitSAFETY founder, speak at an Illinois law enforcement conference. The two had already exchanged phone calls for a few years because of their mutual concern for public safety in regard to vehicular pursuits. During this conference, he told her how his detectives had captured these offenders.

    1st Award to St. Louis County

    St. Louis County Police Detectives (L-R) Justin Adams and John Conrardy PursuitSAFETY presented its 2011 Safer Way Award to St. Louis County detectives and their captain during its 2011 Family and Friends Connection. Family and Friends provided what we believe was a first — the first time family and friends of innocent victims met face to face! They came from eight states to attend this gathering in St. Louis.

    Featured Video from our
    2011 Family and Friends Connection
    Chief Richard Schardan: “Show Compassion