Global Road Safety: What One Country is Doing to Make its Roads Safer

Worldwide, 3,400 people die on roads [everyday]. [1] The United Nations (U.N) has developed a Global Plan for the “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.” In this plan the U.N. highlights focus areas to make roads safer. Safe roads is more than just keeping road users safe, it has far reaching implications to economies and commerce. For low- and middle-income countries safer roads means an opportunity to grow economies and keep families out of debt.

Director Nascimento of the Federal Highway Police (PRF), Brazil is a member of the International Associations of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and is on the Highway Safety Committee (HSC). As a middle-income country, Brazil understands the value of safe roads from an economic and human perspective. Over the last several years PRF has worked to develop educational and enforcement campaigns.

In a recent interview with Maria Alice Nascimento, Director, PRF, Ms. Nascimento answers some questions about the work she is doing to improve road safety.

IACP: What road safety challenges is Brazil facing?

Ms. Nascimento: Brazil has been experiencing a great growth of road infrastructure which results in better roads and increased road network. Moreover, considering the increase of financing and payment, there was an increase of 148% in the country’s car fleet. The PRF also noticed that drivers were speeding on the country’s roads. The combination of more vehicles and increased speeds created the perfect scenario of collisions.

It is also important to mention that the quality of the vehicles in Brazil is still low, even in active and passive safety systems, which affects the severity and the amount of traffic injuries.

Policies and road safety programs in Brazil also face a major challenge, since it is a shared responsibility among the federal government, states, and municipalities. Thus, it remains an enormous challenge to better organize and coordinate joint efforts to promote safer traffic throughout the country, in a comprehensive and efficient way.

This division of powers and independence of the federal entities also leads to a lack of standardization and quality in the training of drivers, resulting in less prepared and less conscious drivers.

IACP: What public awareness/educational efforts have you implemented?

Ms. Nascimento: One awareness initiative, PRF conducts is entitled “Road Movies.” This educational campaign focuses on school students and drivers and invites them to watch movies that focus on the main causes of traffic collisions and aggravating factors of collisions such as illegal overtaking, speeding, impaired driving, and non-use of seat belts or child seats. The films are played on trucks adapted for this purpose.

PRF also organizes the A School Transit Festival – FETRAN, which is a traffic educational project that uses educational activities with the theme of traffic safety in everyday school life. In FETRAN, students and teachers create plays, models, poetry, dance, music, novels, and other communication methods with a specific traffic safety focus to promote educational and cultural diversity. The created products are presented in the Thematic Fair for Traffic and Traffic Festival with the aim of integrating PRF, schools, and society.

Our State Directors organize lectures for schools, unions and professional drivers’ associations that reinforce the need for compliance with the laws, obedience to traffic signs, observing speed limits, and the importance of safe traffic for everyone who travels by the country roads.

It is important to mention the Health Command, where drivers take simple exams to assess their general health and are also informed about safety procedures and the importance of safe driving. This is done with the support of hospitals to make sure the diagnosis and suggestions are professional.

Finally, PRF wanted to develop an impactful public awareness campaign that demonstrated the serious effects of collisions and the direct connection it has to driver behavior. The PRF had a driver who had committed a driving under the influence of alcohol offence participate in a ride along with the PRF rescue care team. The ride along was recorded and showed the reaction of the individual as they observed the after effects of a collision scene. The awareness campaign resonated with the road user community by putting a “human face” on the collision and helped highlight the role that driver behavior plays in road safety.

IACP: What road safety enforcement activities have you implemented?

Ms. Nascimento: The main function of the Federal Highway Police in promoting road safety is the “Integrated Operation Rodovida”, which is a major effort involving the Federal Government, states, and municipalities to reduce collisions and traffic fatalities. This is a simultaneous and joint action at pre-determined locations and times to increase the presence and availability of government agencies in providing road safety and fluidity on the highways. This collaborative governmental effort involves; the Secretariat of Communications for the President, the Ministries of Justice, Cities, Transport, Health, and state and municipal entities; which utilize statistical studies to direct these preventative crash prevention, educational campaigns, and other road safety efforts.

We also used statistical surveys conducted by the Federal Highway Police itself, pointing the sections considered more nationally critical to direct the integrated and simultaneous actions. This study considers the locations where the highest serious crash rates are recorded, those that result in death or any serious injury. The PRF actions, however, are not restricted to places where there will be a joint effort, they happen throughout the federal highways of the Country focusing on the illegal overtaking, seeking to prevent collisions.

Moreover, to increase the effectiveness of inspections PRF has invested in training and capacity building of the police to conduct patrols on motorcycles. Motorcycles provide police agility to conduct enforcement efforts while patrolling in heavy traffic. Motorcycle policing is most effective in metropolitan areas where traffic is heavy and having this type of police presence helps in the prevention of traffic violations and crimes, many of which are conducted with the use of motorcycles.

IACP: What has the public’s response been to your educational and enforcement activities?

Ms. Nascimento: As a result of our combined efforts, the Federal Highway Police has managed to drastically reduce the number of collisions, deaths, and injuries on federal highways (highways whose supervision and policing are the responsibility of the PRF) since 2011.

In statistical surveys conducted by PRF, driver’s behavior is the main cause of collisions on federal highways (speeding, illegal overtaking, impaired driving, etc.). The PRF believes that the large reduction of collisions on the federal highways is a result of the increased educational activities that have increased drivers and the public’s awareness about traffic safety, and that through the educational activities both drivers and the public have modified their behavior when in traffic.

IACP: What challenges have you faced?

Ms. Nascimento: One challenge the PRF has faced in its traffic safety efforts is the lack of officers available to conduct enforcement efforts. Currently the PRF has approximately 10,000 police throughout the country, with a highway network of more than 70,000 kilometers. In enumerating the number of police and the size of the road network, it is evident that the number of officers is not adequate to properly patrol the highway system. In addition, the number of vehicles in the country is growing daily, which is reflected in the number of vehicles the on federal highways. With an increase in vehicles and drivers there is an increased need to have more officers on the road to conduct inspections.

IACP: What advice would you give law enforcement leaders around the world about implementing educational and enforcement programs focused on road safety?

Ms. Nascimento: I would emphasize the importance of strengthening the management capacity, aimed to establish a more technical operational planning culture with the development of preventive and proactive actions. It is also important to mention the need to develop social-oriented work in road safety, which is, focusing on society, its safety and well-being. Finally, I believe it is important to invest in technology and procedures for the collection of reliable statistical data in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis of landscape found, which will enable the adoption of appropriate strategies to achieve the best results possible.
1. United Nations Road Safety Collaboration,, viewed May 2, 2016.

Posted in Global Policing, Traffic Safety | Leave a comment

50 Years of Police Officer of the Year: A Water Rescue by Air

50thPOYLogo_Opt2_CLR_R1Since 1966, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has recognized one law enforcement officer – in a few cases multiple officers – who exemplified outstanding and heroic achievement. While the name of the award may have changed during that time, the honor has not. To celebrate 50 years of awardees, the IACP will be featuring in-depth stories about some of the past Police Officer of the Year winners.

For Sergeant Chip Sunier of the Indiana State Police, one Sunday afternoon in June 2001 is a day that will stand out to him forever.

That day, two young couples decided to go on a boating trip on the White River near Indianapolis, Indiana. Both wives were pregnant and one of the couples had their 9-month-old son with them.

As they drifted down the river with the current, the motor of the boat hit an object in the water and lost its propeller. The boat was about to go over the dam when it struck a tree. The impact made the boat spin around and it hung over the dam with the nose sticking straight up in the air.

Responding to the 911 call, emergency personnel first tried to execute a boat rescue by going out on the river themselves. Unfortunately the boat was too close to the dam and the current too fast for the rescuers to get to it safely. They then tried to extend the ladder of a firetruck out over the water, but it wasn’t long enough for the families to reach. Their final option was to try a helicopter- a dangerous move because it would have to get close enough to the water to lower harnesses to the family members.

Sgt. Chip Sunier and Sgt. John Kelley with the Indiana State Police had trained together for just such a situation. With Sgt. Kelley in the pilot’s seat, Sgt. Sunier knew it was his job to get the families safely into the helicopter. Hovering far above the boat, they lowered the first harness for the baby. The parents tried to put the harness on their young son, but it was too big for his little body.

At that point, Sgt. Sunier knew more drastic measures were needed and he directed Sgt. Kelley to lower the helicopter closer to the raging water. Sgt. Sunier got out of the helicopter and stood on one of the landing skids as he extended his arm to grab the baby. The baby’s father lifted the child as high as he could and passed him off to Sgt. Sunier safely. The two officers then got the baby back on land and after three more helicopter trips, they saved everyone on the boat.

“I got Kim to hand the baby to her husband who reached up and got him to me. What a relief I felt,” said Sgt. Chip Sunier. “It’s funny, as bad as it was, I was not scared or nervous. I felt like John and I were meant to save these people that day.”
It turns out that heroism runs in the Sunier family. Sgt. Sunier’s son, Master Trooper Troy Sunier was on the bank of the river providing assistance as his father was inside the helicopter.

“I was working as a trooper out of the Pendleton State Police Post when this water rescue occurred, and it made worldwide news,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter. “What Sgt. Chip Sunier and Sgt. John Kelley- the pilot of the helicopter- accomplished that day was the melding of separate skill sets showing the result of hours of practice as a team working through different potential rescue situations.”

Sgt. Sunier saved more than five lives that day. Less than six months later, both women safely delivered their babies. The picture in Parade magazine celebrating his award showed Sgt. Sunier with the newly expanded families. One of the wives later stated, “These guys are our heroes. They were their best when we were at our worst.”

Do you know a police officer who should be nominated for Police Officer of the Year? Time is running out so, nominate them now! Applications are due Friday, July 22, 2016.

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Recognize an Officer with IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year Award

The IACP has extended the deadline for the IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year Award to Friday, July 22, 2016.


2015 IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year Finalists

Recent events around the world have heightened the awareness of the dangers law enforcement officers face every day. Many law enforcement officers do not hear the words “thank you” enough. Nominating an officer for the IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year not only allows you to recognize an officer who has done courageous and heroic work for your community, but it helps the IACP and others highlight the extraordinary dedication these officers give every day.

Do you know a police officer who should be nominated for the IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year? Nominate them now! Deadline is now Friday, July 22, 2016.

Posted in Awards | Leave a comment

Important Conversation on CBS News’ Face the Nation

On Sunday, July 10, IACP President Terrence Cunningham, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP, Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post, and CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues came together on CBS News’ Face the Nation.

In the wake of a number of violent incidents across the United States over the past week, these panelists came together to discuss important issues facing communities around the nation and strategies for moving forward. These issues include the level and types of conversations happening around the country, the need for data collection and sharing, and the importance of accountability.

We hope these respectful and thoughtful conversations continue among community leaders.

Click on the image below to watch the video from CBS.


Posted in Community-Police Relations, Criminal Justice Reform, IACP Leadership | Leave a comment

Let’s All Be a “PLAYER” (Police Legitimacy And Youth Engagement = Results)

Guest Blogger: Chief Steve Dye, Grand Prairie, Texas, Police Department 

I was recently invited to attend the Police and Youth Engagement Roundtable: Supporting the Role of Law Enforcement in Juvenile Justice Reform hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) with support from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ). Prior to my arrival, I was probably like most chiefs, with 30 plus years of experience, in believing I had a very comprehensive grasp of police/youth relations as a result of both experience and involvement in various youth initiatives over the years.

I expected the two-day event would be an opportunity to highlight some of our department’s efforts and had minimal expectations on gleaning much new insight from our youth attendees – was I ever mistaken! I was so impressed by the stories of our youth partners and the courage and tenacity of many of them in not only overcoming obstacles and challenges in their lives, but also using those experiences to motivate them to be leaders in their communities with the drive to help improve understanding between youth and law enforcement.

I was impacted and taken aback by the existing level of current misperceptions, by both youth and officers, despite our ongoing community policing efforts to bridge gaps and eliminate barriers. This roundtable has further energized me to reinforce to my department the need for our profession to always respect our citizens, regardless of age, and to slow down, listen to people, and not assume every call type is the same. Is this runaway call unique in some way? Have we inquired as to this youth’s well-being and any underlying issues in addition to handling the call?

As police officers, when interacting with youth, we need to engage in meaningful conversations. We need to recognize any implicit biases we hold and remain mindful not to overly fixate on the enforcement aspect of our duties. Some of our youth are not receiving adequate parental guidance and support so let’s maximize our interactions as opportunities to mentor while restraining any tendency to “talk down” or be over-authoritative.

Let’s have a conversation first, explain what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and humanize ourselves to our adolescent population while helping kids understand the parameters of proper accountability. This session motivated me to increase training for my officers in relation to how we can more effectively communicate with our youth and provide higher levels of service particularly to those children exposed to violence. The most effective way to improve police/youth relations and create lasting and meaningful juvenile justice reform is through genuine engagement and mutual respect.

Let’s be the right kind of “PLAYERs”!

For more information on this project, please visit Police and Youth Engagement:  Supporting the Role of Law Enforcement in Juvenile Justice Reform.



Posted in Community-Police Relations, Youth

Raising the Bar with the IACP/Cisco Community Policing Award

This blog post is part of a series highlighting best practices in community policing by police departments nationwide as part of IACP’s Community Policing: The Next Generation project. The project showcases modern, innovative, and cost-effective solutions to crime problems and public safety issues through collaboration and partnerships between law enforcement and community stakeholders in order to adapt community policing efforts. The project is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Guest Blogger: Chief Jeff Tate, Shakopee, Minnesota, Police Department

The Shakopee Police Department was extremely honored to win the IACP/Cisco Excellence in Community Policing Award for communities serving populations of 20,001-50,000 in 2015.

Like many of you, we are very proud of our police department and the fantastic work that our staff has done. We are also extremely proud of the partnerships we’ve made in the community and beyond. This is a very prestigious award, given to agencies that implement successful community policing practices. To me, this makes the award all the more satisfying to win and why we coveted it.

We put a great deal of effort into our submission. We painstakingly reviewed each question to make sure we were answering each by backing it up with sufficient evidence. We made sure to show that community oriented policing is not just a program here in Shakopee, but a way of life. The process of submitting an application was very rewarding. It made us take time to reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish. The result was a submission we were really proud of.

Winning the award was an even better experience for our staff and community. We used photos of the award and referenced it in many of our communications throughout the year. We hung up a poster displaying the award in the lobby of the police station for all to see as they enter. We tweeted and posted our winning of the award in our Twitter and Facebook accounts. The Shakopee Valley News newspaper did a front page article on the award and the department. Several local news outlets and local e-news websites and one of the local television news stations highlighted our recognition as well.  It raised the bar higher for our agency moving forward. We want to continue to live up to the recognition, and it’s been exciting to see everyone’s commitment levels improve even more since being recognized.

Community oriented policing is woven into every aspect of our department, consistently and clearly communicating this philosophy every day, both internally and externally. While we have many programs, we know community policing is not just about programs but partnerships. Our Team-up Against Graffiti (TAG) initiative is a great example of the value of partnerships and what can be accomplished through active community engagement.

While graffiti didn’t represent a large call volume in Shakopee, it consistently ranked high in citizen concerns. To take a proactive, long-term approach, we created TAG. The group secured funding through grants, donations and community fundraising at various events to purchase an anti-graffiti coating, then engaged the community and police officers to help apply the coating to frequently hit areas. The TAG initiative also educated citizens to be better observers and to support graffiti prevention throughout the community.

TAG continues to grow, thanks to all of our partnerships. Because of this, we were able to tackle our worst graffiti areas by replacing graffiti with public art and anti-graffiti coating. City and department leaders, community residents, Project Latino volunteers, and the Hispanic Advisory Council of Shakopee Parents have all helped paint and coat affected areas. This grassroots effort has seen tremendous buy-in and ownership in the community. Since starting the initiative, more than 25,000 square feet of public space has been permanently protected against vandalism, and Shakopee saw a 65 percent decrease in graffiti.

Like many of you, we are so proud of the partnerships we’ve formed and the measurable results seen from it. I encourage you to submit an application for the IACP/Cisco’s Excellence in Community Policing Award. The process itself is a great exercise for your agency and if successful, you see community pride taken to the next level. It has truly been amazing. The award for Shakopee was truly a community award, and we celebrated as a community at our city council meeting with all of our stakeholders.

I would like to encourage you to share your submissions with other agencies. We put a QR code on every handout we have about the award so everyone can see our submission in great detail. There should be no secrets, and I encourage you to share everything.


Posted in Awards, Community-Police Relations

Call for Submissions: The Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award

The IACP Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award is a great way to recognize law enforcement agencies that demonstrate excellence in conducting and using research to improve police operations and public safety. The goal of this award program is to promote the establishment of effective research, especially partnerships among law enforcement agencies and researchers. We encourage all agency leaders to apply to highlight the great work their agency is doing and to receive worldwide recognition.

The award program is overseen by IACP’s Research Advisory Committee and is open to all federal, state, local, tribal, campus and other law enforcement agencies worldwide (private corporations or individuals excluded). Agencies compete for the award by submitting a description of their research and its impact on the agency, community, and the profession of law enforcement.

Judges will take agency size and capacity into consideration when selecting finalists. Three awards (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) are given annually. Award categories are uniqueness of research, quality of research, leadership, partnerships, and performance monitoring.

Winners will be honored at the 2016 IACP Annual Conference and Exposition in San Diego, California. Two representatives from each winning agency will be provided with complimentary conference registration, transportation costs, and three nights lodging at IACP’s Annual Conference, where an event to recognize the winning agencies will be held.

Please check out The Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award website or email any questions to Kathleen Kelley .

The deadline for submissions for the 2016 Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Awards is Monday, August 1, 2016 at Midnight EDT.

Posted in Awards

50 Years of Police Officer of the Year: A Father’s Legacy, A Son’s Future

Since 1966, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has recognized one law enforcement officer – in a few cases multiple officers – who exemplified outstanding and heroic achievement. While the name of the award may have changed during that time, the honor has not. To celebrate 50 years of awardees, the IACP will be featuring in-depth stories about some of the past Police Officer of the Year winners.

foumai1On February 16, 1992, Sergeant David Foumai of the Honolulu Police Department learned the true meaning of never being “off-duty” as someone in his own neighborhood was in harm’s way.

Sgt. Foumai was enjoying his evening with his pregnant wife and two young daughters when he heard a gunshot come from outside. He couldn’t tell where it came from or what was going on, but after hearing a second shot, he knew he was close enough to intervene. He looked out his window and noticed a man aiming what looked like a shotgun at a woman. Sgt. Foumai knew immediately he needed to help and told his wife to call 911 and then hide in the apartment with their daughters. Realizing the danger of the situation, his wife was terrified as he left- barefoot and in only a tank top and shorts.

As Sgt. Foumai approached the scene, he witnessed the suspect pulling the woman by her hair towards his vehicle with his shotgun in hand. The suspect was released from prison only a few days prior and was currently under the influence of crystal meth. Sgt. Foumai caught the suspect off guard and commanded him to drop his weapon. The suspect refused to drop the gun and even said to Sgt. Foumai, “What, you gonna shoot me?” Sgt. Foumai felt like his life, and the life of the woman were in danger, and he was eventually given no choice but to pull the trigger. Two hours after being shot by Sgt. Foumai, the suspect died from his injuries.

Sgt. Foumai later learned that the suspect had waited all day for the woman, who was his ex-girlfriend, and her current boyfriend to come home. When they arrived, the suspect shot the woman’s boyfriend in the leg, which was the first gunshot that caught Sgt. Foumai’s attention. The suspect then attempted to shoot his ex-girlfriend but missed her head by mere inches, which was the shot that made Sgt. Foumai rush outside. The female victim stated that her ex-boyfriend said that he was going to kill her and then kill himself.
In the meantime, Sgt. Foumai’s wife was watching the incident from their apartment but when she heard Sgt. Foumai gunshots, she was unsure who had fired and worried about her husband’s safety. At the time, Sgt. Foumai said “it was a miracle she didn’t go into labor right then.”

foumai2The victim told Sgt. Foumai she was grateful he intervened because the only thing she could think about were her five children and who would care for them if she died. When she mentioned her children, Sgt. Foumai thought about his time as a father. He began to think about his own family and how they’d be taken care of if he was killed.

One month after the incident, Sgt. Foumai’s wife gave birth to their son, Kawika Foumai, now an officer with the Honolulu Police Department. Even though Officer Foumai wasn’t born when his dad committed this act of bravery, his dad’s personality, actions, and mindset had a clear impact on his path of life.

“Throughout my life, my dad has always supported me in whatever I chose to do,” said Officer Foumai, “When I graduated high school, my father did not even mention to me about becoming a police officer. He just wanted me to become something I can be proud of. When I finally shared with my father about my career choice in becoming a police officer, he became excited. If I could say one last thing to my father before he leaves for his last day, I would say to have fun and keep doing what you always do.”

foumai3Sgt. Foumai was awarded the Gold Medal of Valor by the Honolulu Police Department and the Police Officer of the Year Award by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 1992. He will be retiring in the fall of 2016 with 30 years on the job and he will be passing the torch on to his son.

“I’m just glad I could make a difference during my career and the fact that I can look back and say that I did alright,” said Sgt. David Foumai. We could not agree more.

Do you know a police officer who should be nominated for Police Officer of the Year? Nominate them now! Applications are due Friday, July 15, 2016.

Posted in Awards

Pre-Arrest Diversion – An Effective Model Ready for Widespread Adoption

Guest Blogger: Greg Frost, President, Civil Citation Network

With the growing recognition of the need to create alternatives to arrest and prosecution for low-level offenses, many innovative diversion alternatives are emerging. While there are effective post-arrest (or post-booking) diversion programs, changing the traditional criminal justice system in meaningful ways takes bold leadership and vision.

Tallahassee and Leon County, Florida, leaders have taken the bold step to create a community partnership that diverts first-time misdemeanor offenders to a pre-arrest behavioral health intervention program. The Pre-arrest Diversion Program (PAD) is now seen as a successful alternative to arrest and a law enforcement tool for improving public safety and community-police relations.

One of the factors that makes PAD unique is that it’s pre-arrest. The PAD program started in 2013 as the first program in Florida — and based on extensive research, possibly the first in the nation — to give law enforcement officers the formal discretion to divert a misdemeanor offender away from the traditional criminal justice system without first making an arrest, either a physical arrest or issuing a citation-in-lieu of physical arrest. Even though incarceration and prosecution may be avoided by post-arrest diversion, in most states the offender still has an arrest record with the arresting agency. It is well documented that having an arrest record jeopardizes current and future employment, compromises student loans, and blocks access to certain housing opportunities. Because the PAD program is pre-arrest, successful diversion and program completion means the offender does not have an arrest record. Program participation is tracked through an online application available to all law enforcement agencies.

The PAD program expands the concept of Florida’s successful Juvenile Civil Citation program to adults. Also known as an adult civil citation program, the PAD model provides an alternative to arrest for many low-level misdemeanor offenses that result from an error in judgment, out of control emotions, or someone simply making a mistake. Eligible offenses approved for diversion by Tallahassee and Leon County law enforcement officers include disorderly conduct, trespass, criminal mischief, petit theft, underage possession of alcohol, possession of marijuana under 20 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, non-domestic simple battery, and non-domestic simple assault.

Based on the offender not having an arrest record and cooperating fully with the law enforcement officer, as well as consideration of the victim’s input, the officer has the discretion to offer diversion into the PAD program. An offender can voluntarily choose not to participate in the PAD program and instead opt for their day in court. If diversion is accepted, the offender enters an intervention program operated by DISC Village – a non-profit behavioral health agency in Tallahassee. During program intake at DISC Village each person receives a behavioral health assessment and is screened for drug use. Based on the results, an individualized intervention plan is developed. The participant then has 90 days to complete the intervention plan, as well as a mandatory 25 hours of community service. Participants pay the behavioral health company $350 for the intervention services. This is approximately the same cost as court fines and fees if they were to be criminally prosecuted. Payment plans and waivers are available for those who cannot afford the PAD fee. No one is denied participation for the inability to pay. Failure in the program results in the participant being arrested and prosecuted for the original offense.

Avoiding a criminal arrest record has proven to be a great incentive, and the evidence-based intervention services provided by DISC Village have significantly impacted recidivism for participants. Since the PAD program started in March of 2013, law enforcement officers with the Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office have diverted over 1,000 offenders. Of the nearly 80% of diverted offenders who successfully complete the program, only 6% were subsequently rearrested. Data used to determine the rearrest rate was provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to the program’s evaluator at Western Carolina University. The statewide data reflected arrests for PAD participants in any Florida jurisdiction following participation in the program.

Improving public safety by reducing recidivism is a primary goal of the PAD program. A 6% rearrest rate is a significant reduction when compared to offenders prosecuted through the criminal justice system.  While there is little formal research related to recidivism for first-time misdemeanants, in Leon County prior to the PAD program the estimated recidivism rate for this category of offenders was 40%. A long-term study conducted by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission found the average rearrest rate was approximately 45% for first-time misdemeanor offenders processed through Oregon misdemeanor courts.[i]

There are many benefits for using pre-arrest diversion. The offender and law enforcement receive the most obvious – improved efficiency for the officer and the offender has an opportunity to avoid an arrest record and receive intervention services. The program also reduces the workload for the already overloaded misdemeanor court system. During FY15, over 65,000 adults with no prior record were arrested in Florida and charged with a misdemeanor offense. If PAD programs were adopted throughout the state a significant portion of these individuals could have been directly diverted by law enforcement.  The unnecessary and long-lasting harm that arrest records cause people who are not a true threat to public safety, could have been avoided and scarce criminal justice resources used for more important cases.

Long-term reform is only possible when community leaders decide to break away from the cycle of arrest and rearrest that results from the current revolving-door approach of the criminal justice system. There are many people for whom incarceration is necessary because they are a true threat to public safety. However, as most law enforcement officers will confirm, there are many times when a crime is committed as a result of heated emotions or poor judgment… we all make mistakes. Under these circumstances, a community is better served if officers are given the discretion to divert away from the criminal justice system, and instead of making an arrest the offender receives intervention services that improve public safety.

There is no doubt that in Tallahassee and Leon County, due to bold community leadership, law enforcement officers have an effective tool for handling first-time misdemeanor offenders. Lives of hundreds of people have remained intact because they avoided an arrest record, public safety has improved through reduced recidivism, law enforcement relations with the community improved because officers have an alternative to arrest, and the community partnership has no cost for the local government. With these types of outcomes, the PAD program is a model ready for widespread adoption.


[i] Jones, Richard A. (2005) ―Analysis of the Oregon Computerized Criminal History Records, Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. Retrieved from:

Posted in Community-Police Relations, Criminal Justice Reform

Sharing Your Story

This blog post is part of a series highlighting best practices in community policing by police departments nationwide as part of IACP’s Community Policing: The Next Generation project. The project showcases modern, innovative, and cost-effective solutions to crime problems and public safety issues through collaboration and partnerships between law enforcement and community stakeholders in order to adapt community policing efforts. The project is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Guest Blogger Deputy Director Tony Paetznick, New Brighton, Minnesota, Department of Public Safety

Police officers are wonderful storytellers. The oral tradition of law enforcement sharing experiences is a longstanding part of the profession. Those captivating stories become descriptive narratives in the form of incident reports. Through gathering and processing physical evidence; listening to and questioning suspects, victims, and witnesses; and observing behaviors and crime scenes, police officers regularly take what they see, hear, smell, and feel on the job into detailed narratives. Occasionally, the documentation of this exemplary, thorough police work will earn supervisory praise or a departmental recognition. Similarly, police chiefs should reflect upon the collective stories that their agencies are currently authoring in terms of community policing successes, and consider submitting these narratives of such fundamental police work for recognition by the IACP/Cisco Community Policing Award.

Having won the IACP Community Award in 2004 for our agency’s collaborative efforts to reduce crime and increase quality of life for residents at our city’s largest apartment community for low-income residents, we knew that the standard for this recognition was set with a high bar. Yet looking broader, we realized that our decades-old Neighborhood Oriented Policing (NOP) program embodied the same community-policing ideals, and were grateful to IACP/Cisco for bestowing on us this award a second time in 2011.

NOP designates each patrol officer in the agency to a unique geographic grid of the city to work with community members in their assigned neighborhoods. The NOP officers are expected to address long-term solutions to localized issues and develop ongoing relationships with residents and other community contacts to assure shared problem solving with mutually beneficial outcomes.

Upon earning the IACP/Cisco recognition, we partnered with our local cable news community access studio to produce a brief online video that highlighted our receipt of the IACP/Cisco Community Policing Award and focused on a specific incident where the tenets of our neighborhood policing program were used to address a crime and quality of life issue in our municipality. As part of our police officer hiring process, we continue to use that video as an example to prospective candidates about the positive and proactive, community-oriented nature of our police agency.

When a department has been doing something for so long that it has become part of the organizational culture, earning this recognition for what seemed to have become ordinary, everyday work helped reinvigorate such efforts both internally and external to the agency, and in our case launched the next generation NOP 2.0 version of this community policing initiative. Police officers have become even more skilled problem solvers in partnering with residents of the community to address chronic and underlying conditions that lead to crime and disorder, while at the same time engaging a broader representation of municipal departments to address problems citywide with a multi-disciplined team approach and improve tracking of these localized incidents to assure progressive improvement.

Especially in modern society and the current era of law enforcement transparency and accountability, highlighting the great work done by police officers on a daily basis through meaningful and impactful community partnerships is an important step for agencies to promote their identity and greater societal role as working for and with the communities that they serve, and not in opposition to or against these many different constituents that exist within each law enforcement jurisdiction.

Investing the time to share your agency’s story is a worthwhile effort to bolster support for staff and also remind the community of the many positive relationships with the citizenry served by the police department. So what’s your agency’s story of community policing? Please share it so that IACP/Cisco can honor your agency and further spread the good news of what cops are doing in their communities each day.

Posted in Awards, Community-Police Relations