Department of Justice funds civil engineering early career award on police officer road safety
Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018
MANHATTAN — Fatal and serious injury vehicle crashes involving police officers are a growing concern for law enforcement agencies and local communities across the United States.
Eric Fitzsimmons, Kansas State University assistant professor of civil engineering, has partnered with Grady Carrick, retired chief of the Florida Highway Patrol and now with Enforcement Engineering Inc., to deploy and evaluate technology interventions and a response-to-call-for-services policy to reduce police officer involvement in traffic accidents. Both are currently members of the Transportation Research Board standing committee on traffic law enforcement, a division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
This research initiative has been funded by a two-year, $496,184 grant from the Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Early Career/New Investigator program.
"The Department of Justice and International Association of Chiefs of Police have recognized that officer-distracted driving and excessive vehicle speed both contribute to increasing numbers of these crashes and raise serious safety concerns for police officers while in their vehicles," Fitzsimmons said.
The project will potentially impact more than 3,000 law enforcement personnel across the country. Participating agencies include the Florida Highway Patrol, Nassau County Sheriff's Office in Florida, Roanoke County Police Department in Virginia, Oro Valley Police Department in Arizona, Alexandria Police Department in Virginia and Overland Park Police Department in Kansas.
"We will first evaluate commercially available technology interventions over a one-year period, focusing on the in-vehicle computer most commonly used by police officers," Fitzsimmons said. "We will collect this qualitative data through anonymous officer focus groups to determine safety effectiveness and potential disadvantages of the technology."
Using a quantitative evaluation of officer crash data, and also performing before-and-after or cross-sectional analysis of the data, the team will evaluate existing response-to-call-for-services policies as well in-vehicle technology intervention to increase the safety of police officers while on duty.