HOLBROOK - For the past few weeks, members of the Navajo County Sheriff's office have been undergoing a series of intense training exercises to improve officer safety and tactics.
The genesis of the training has been drawn from the “Below 100” initiative, a national program that is designed to reduce police line-of-duty deaths to fewer than one hundred per year.
Beginning on October 7th, a total of 42 deputies began the 4 hour coursework. The training involved several phases, but were essentially boiled down to classroom discussion and hands on training and scenarios.
The training was led by Navajo County Deputy, Daniel Brown. Deputy Brown has a long and distinguished career in law enforcement. Prior to his service in Navajo County he served as an officer with the City of Mesa
Police Department, a Sergeant with the Maricopa Police Department and an Acting Chief of Police for Gila River Police Department where he was a division Commander. During the training, Deputy Brown concentrated on the
areas where most deaths occur and that are most susceptible to change (e.g. use of safety equipment and enhanced situational awareness).
"I think every level and form of law enforcement deals with some form of complacency," said Sheriff KC Clark. "In Navajo County, we want the Below 100 training to serve as an instrument of cultural
transformation and improved everyday practices in our agency. We want to improve our training because we want our citizens to have the highest level of service, and we want our officers to come home to their loved
ones after every shift. The Below 100 program recognizes that awareness and training are the keys to those goals, and that the individual is the primary agent of change for our culture in Navajo County."
Deputy Brown introduced a variety of concepts during the classroom portion through videos, group discussion, testimonials and presentations from retired and current law enforcement officers. The tactical training
was conducted in a variety of scenarios, including a significant amount of time in low light environments.
"The program is centered on five major tenants," said Deputy Brown. "We want our deputies to remember the basics of safety and to rely on their training. We try to accomplish this by having a proper mental
approach towards safety and tactics. The five tenants are: 1) wear your belt, 2) wear your vest, 3) watch your speed, 4) W.I.N (What’s Important Now) and 5) remember that complacency kills."
"We have made Below 100 part of our yearly training both for our Deputies and Detention Officers, and we are even thinking about extending some of this training to employees in other areas of the County,"
commented Sheriff Clark. "It's important enough that we need to remind ourselves that sometimes it's the little things that make a biggest difference."
In addition to members of the Sheriff's Office, members of the Administration Department for the County have also attended portions of the training. Allison Hepner, the County's new Risk Manager commented,
"There is a lot of cross-over in this training for non-law enforcement employees, and with a few adjustments we think there could be a lot of value for some of our departments. The Public Works Department would
be a classic example because there is such a premium placed on safety within that part of the organization. We are still in the infancy of figuring out how to implement the idea, but I love the idea of getting a
great safety instructor like Deputy Brown in front of our other departments. The Sheriff's Office is showing a level of passion and commitment to employee safety that is inspiring and results driven, and I really
want that level of passion to spread."