Residents of Tyrone will soon notice that some of our officers are sporting a new look.
Effective immediately, I am giving our officers the option to wear load bearing vest carriers in an effort to reduce the impact that wearing a heavy duty belt has on the lower back (more on that below).
There has been much discussion in the news and on social media over the past few years about the "militarization" of law enforcement and police officers taking on a more "tactical" appearance. The growing use of the load bearing vest by police departments across the United States (very widespread in the UK and other parts of Europe) is central to that discussion.
Here's an example of a load bearing vest:
This look is a definite change from what many citizens are used to seeing and it IS reminiscent of something a SWAT officer might wear, but they are definitely not "tactical".
Despite their look, load bearing vests are designed for comfort above all as they take a significant amount of weight and pressure off the lower back and hips.
All that gear we have to carry on our belts gets extremely heavy (roughly 15 to 20 lbs, depending on what the officer is carrying). Over time, this results in major discomfort and has even led to surgery for some officers. Many documented cases of this exist across the U.S..
The following short video provides a good comparison of the effects of a duty belt to those of a load bearing vest on the lower spine.
Raise your hand if you want to wear something for 12 hours a day for years on end that will cause your lower spine to extend 12 degrees or more farther than the maximum recommended by doctors.
I don't blame you.
We won't be wearing more equipment with these vests; we'll simply be displacing most of the weight of the same gear we carry everyday to the shoulders and upper back resulting in a greater level of comfort and long-term well-being.
The carriers (the officer's soft body armor is concealed inside the vest) cost approximately $200 and will be purchased with seized drug funds. The equipment pouches that attach to the vests will be purchased by the officers from their uniform allowance or out of pocket.
They'll be hitting the streets in a few weeks.
The Tyrone Police Department is proud to be the 2nd agency in Georgia to join the Police Data Initiative, a voluntary national law enforcement data sharing project.
Learn more on our Open Data Project page.
Our official press release is available below.
For Immediate Release
January 12, 2017
Tyrone Police Department’s K9 Bruno to get body armor
Tyrone, Ga. - The Tyrone Police Department’s K9 Bruno will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Bruno’s vest is sponsored by an Anonymous Donor and will be embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc”. Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.
K9 Bruno, a 2 year old German Shepherd, was purchased by the agency in September 2016 with the proceeds from a fundraiser that was hosted by The Ohio Hog Company, a local restaurant. The K9 Team, which consists of Bruno and his handler Sgt. Jacob Collins, is primarily tasked with narcotics detection, but they are also trained in tracking. The latter will be beneficial in searching for missing persons or criminals should they choose to run from the police.
Upon being informed that his agency had been approved for the vest donation, Chief Brandon Perkins remarked, “We are extremely appreciative of the generosity of Vested Interest in K9s and their donors. Bruno is a valuable member of our agency so having him better protected out in the field is important to us!”
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The nonprofit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially life saving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 2,200 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over 1.9 million dollars. All vests are custom made in the USA by Armor Express in Central Lake, MI.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050.00. Each vest has a value between $1,795 – $2,234 and a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.
Contact: Brandon Perkins, Chief of Police | Phone: 770-487-4732 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE PRESS RELEASE DOCUMENT AND A PHOTO ARE AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD BELOW.
We held our 10th Annual Awards Dinner at the Tyrone Depot last night where our team was presented with the following awards and recognitions commemorating their hard work and achievements over the past year:
Distinguished Service Award
Ofc. Armstrong – 20 Years Army
Maj. Brock - 10 Year
Ofc. Cardell - 3 Year
Sgt. Collins - 4 Year
Lt. DeLoose - 10 Year
Cpl. Hill - 1 Year
Ofc. Huddleston - 1 Year
Det. Johnson-McCoy - 1 Year
Sgt. Moorman - 10 Year
Det. Morris - 1 Year
Lt. Nelson - 7 Years
Cpl. Ruth - 6 Years
Ofc. Cardell - 2 Years
Ofc. Armstrong - Associate Degree
Ofc. Banks - Bachelor Degree
Cpl. Hill - Associate Degree
Ofc. Huddleston x2
Officer of the Year
We also presented a certificate of appreciation to Gary and Vivian Williams of Ohio Hog BBQ for their contributions towards our K9 program and a Community Service Award to Mr. Chip Young for his continual support of the Police Department.
I had a supervisor once when I was a young officer who liked to tell us, "if you're not getting complaints, you aren't doing your job!" That was a pretty antiquated thought process even then and we police administrators spend a lot of time now developing officers who can do their jobs without generating complaints.
I think we do a pretty good job of that here at the TPD as our officers, fortunately, do not generate many complaints. Much of this has to do with the professional manner in which our officers present themselves on calls, traffic stops, and general interactions with the public. We review random samples of each officer's dash and body camera video each month as part of our quality assurance process and I have yet to find an absolutely cringe worthy interaction on the officer's part. In fact, most of what I've seen is a group of men and women I'm very proud of because they represent their profession and their agency well.
That being said, we do get the occasional complaint and many of them come from citizens who insist on bringing their complaint straight to me. I understand why they do it: the buck stops here, so why not go straight to the guy in charge, right?
Here's the thing...I'm the guy who will have the final say in an adverse disciplinary action if a complaint is found to be legitimate and requires such an outcome. I'm also the person an officer would appeal to if lesser disciplinary action is taken against them by their supervisor. I'm basically an important step in the employee's right to due process and I have to do my best to remain objective.
I've seen the frustration on citizen's faces when I tell them that I'm not the appropriate person to file their complaint with and I completely understand. However, our complaint process is solid and all complainants can rest assured that each one is taken seriously, investigated by the appropriate supervisor(s), and that proper action will be taken if necessary.
So who does the complaint go to? Typically, complaint forms are turned in at our front desk and one of the clerks will forward them to the appropriate supervisor(s) for investigation.
Please note that I am only referring to complaints on officers here. If a citizen has a complaint, question, or wants to offer criticism or other input about the agency itself, I'm your guy and my door is open!
"What should I tell my kids to do if they're stopped by the police?"
I've been asked this question dozens of times over the course of my law enforcement career and I hear it much more frequently here lately in light of all the unfortunate police-citizen turmoil we're experiencing in our country right now. It's a very sensible question and its subject is something that every parent should cover with their kids at some point (sooner than later) in their formative years.
My answer generally consists of three points:
- Keep your hands where the officer can see them - we learn very early in our training to become police officers that hands are dangerous and how an individual we are in contact with is positioning their hands can tell us a lot. Hands that are not visible are a very bad sign.
- Be polite - police officers are not looking for a confrontation when they approach someone they've stopped and will generally do their best to be professional in order to avoid any escalation. When both parties are polite, any tension on both ends will subside!
Let me add here that some officers do not participate in "small talk" during stops and some citizens see this as the officer being rude. In most cases, the officer is simply focused on the task at hand and is avoiding distraction.
- Don't hold court on the side of the road - no one wants to get stopped and we really don't want to receive a citation for an infraction (I know this as I've been there a few times myself when I was younger...once here in Tyrone!). At times, you may sincerely believe that you were innocent of the infraction and feel the urge to discuss your point of view on the side of the road. Some take it one step further and argue with the officer. Please come to court to address your guilt or innocence and come to us and file a complaint if you believe the officer acted outside of the law or policy and we will investigate it.
During a meeting with a group of high school parents last week I told them that my best advice to anyone stopped by the police is for them to "Comply, comply, comply". The group quickly told me that they understood what I was saying and then educated me on the fact that the word "comply" wouldn't be well received by today's youth. I get it. In a nation where many people argue that we are "over policed", a term like comply can definitely have negative connotations. However, this is an industry term and my intent when I use it isn't to evoke negativity; it's simply the clearest way for us to make our point. That being said, I'm still in search of a great replacement for the term!
Why is this important? Law enforcement officers are trained to respond or react to the behavior of the individual at hand and, more importantly, they are trained to avoid escalation to the point of force whenever possible. Compliance with the officer's lawful requests significantly decreases the possibility of any escalation.
Our friends at the LaGrange Police Department recently released the following video addressing the topic of interacting with the police. They, too, use the word "comply", but it's a very well done PSA otherwise that you may want to share with your kids!
The main point in all of this is that we understand that interacting with us can be uncomfortable, awkward, and even scary. We truly are sensitive to that and will do all that we can to make our interaction as comfortable as possible, but this works both ways!
We are currently working on several new initiatives that will help us interact with local youths in non-enforcement environments to discuss their concerns, help them learn more about us, and build rapport. I couldn't be more excited about all of this because I know that it will have a huge positive impact on our community!
Please watch our Facebook page for updates and announcements about these new initiatives and upcoming events!
I am very pleased to announce that, as of this afternoon, all sworn personnel of the Tyrone Police Department are equipped with body worn cameras (BWCs). We have adopted this tool as part of our commitment to professionalism and transparency and look forward to the benefits they will provide us in these areas.
In the wake of several recent high-profile police use of force incidents, law enforcement as a whole is now under a great deal of scrutiny - some of it warranted, but much of it the result of misinformation - and agencies across the nation are looking for ways to protect their officers from false claims. These important tools are a good answer to that problem and will allow us to ensure that every police-public encounter is carried out professionally and according to policy.
The TPD is fortunate in that our officers are involved in only a few use of force incidents per year on average and they generate very few complaints from the public. That being said, we have received a couple of blatantly false complaints recently (proven by dash cam video) and look forward to the extended video coverage that the BWCs will provide in cases where dashcam use is not possible or feasible. As a quality control measure, shift supervisors will be required to view a minimum of three (3) videos from each of the officers on their shift each month. We already do this with dashcam video and believe that it has greatly enhanced the quality of our encounters with the public.
Our BWC system includes a 30 terabyte internal server that will hold up to 25,000 hours of video. According to the manufacturer, this represents approximately 15 years worth of video for an agency of our size. At this time, all video will be flagged to be maintained for a minimum of five (5) years. That will change once HB 976 becomes law (http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20152016/HB/976). At that time, we will adjust our policy to reflect the requirements of this legislation under OCGA 50-18-96.
Privacy has been, understandably, a big concern for the public when it comes to police use of BWCs. Our law makers addressed that concern last year with the passage of a bill that amended OCGA 50-18-72. Under this legislation, officers are allowed to record their encounters with citizens regardless of the location, but an agency is not required to release said videos to the general public under open records laws. This code section lists the parties to whom the recordings must be released and they only include a very limited group to include those who are actually on the recording. For those videos that must be released, we have the ability to redact certain elements of the videos when allowed by law.
Some Key Elements of our BWC Program:
See below for an official press release about our upcoming deployment of body worn cameras.
Our November 2015 crime and activity report is now available for public review on our crime stats page.