While violent crime was relatively down across the nation back in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice noticed a startling trend. Police Magazine reports that the agency determined that the number of assaults on law enforcement officers was on the rise.

"Since last October [2009], 163 officers have been killed in the line of duty nationwide, with more than a third of them killed by gunfire," Attorney General Eric Holder said, according to the press release. "These losses of mothers and fathers, spouses and siblings, children and colleagues represent an alarming increase in police officer fatalities. The Justice Department is committed to turning back this rising tide; to meeting increased violence with renewed vigilance; and to doing everything within our power – and using every tool at our disposal – to keep law enforcement officers safe." 

As a result, Holder unveiled a new plan – a training initiative – that intended to reduce the number of officers getting hurt on the job. The Violence Against Law Enforcement and Ensuring Officer Resilience and Survivability Initiative or VALOR was announced during an International Association of Chiefs of Police convention in Orlando, Fla., in October 2010. The training program aims to reduce and prevent line of duty injuries and deaths by teaching officers techniques for approaching potentially violent situations that could be prevented.

"VALOR will provide critical nationwide training and technical assistance to sworn state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers through a variety of delivery mechanisms and will conduct and disseminate analysis of violent encounters in various forms, including after-action reviews and lessons learned publications. Training will cover topics including how to anticipate and survive a violent encounter by using 'The Deadly Mix' framework (officer, offender, and the circumstances that brought them together), techniques for identifying concealed weapons and/or armed gunmen, high-risk tactical considerations (e.g., active shooters, hostage), and specific threat groups and violent criminals," according to the training website. 

According to the DOJ's website, the VALOR initiative grant of $467,312 was used to launch the Center for the Prevention of Violence Against the Police in 2011. It was designed with the intention of acting as an operational base for the training program. The organization now works as a clearinghouse for information and analysis about officer injuries and assaults. The VALOR program was designed to not only reduce the violence against officers for the sake of protecting leaders in the communities across the United States, but also reduce costs to local governments and improve neighborhood safety and it has succeeded. The DOJ committed more than $40 million to officer safety programs in the fiscal year of 2010 – more than $30 million of that went to reimburse law enforcement agencies that purchased protective body armor and upgrading technology. 

The VALOR training program now includes instructional materials for state, local and tribal-level law enforcement officers and supervisors. This is in addition to the training also offered to managers, trainers and others who are involved in law enforcement. The program includes on-site regional training, train-the-trainer program, after-action reviews of violent encounters and lessons learned and awareness materials. This is in addition to the customized courses and seminars, interviews with officers and offenders and resource materials like guides, polices that are already offered. 

While the primary focus of the job must be to serve and protect, officers and their supervisors must also remain aware of how they can keep themselves healthy and remain safe so that they can protect their community day-after-day. Training programs like these and the ability to track who has received what kind of safety core education can keep departments running smoothly and safely without tragedy.

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