To Protect and Serve...Drive to Survive!

To Protect and Serve...Drive to Survive!
Train as if your life depended on it! It does!

Monday, March 29, 2010

CalPOST SAFE Driving Campaign

On March 25th and 26th, the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (CalPOST) sponsored the SAFE Driving Campaign Meeting in San Diego.  SAFE stands for Situation-Appropriate, Focused and Educated, which is a driving campaign working to reduce the number of law enforcement officers (LEOs) killed or injured in traffic collisions.  As most of us are painfully aware, on-duty traffic collisions are a leading cause of death for LEOs in California and across the nation.

CalPOST is actively advancing and supporting the SAFE Driving Campaign, embracing stakeholders from across the nation.  They have assembled a hybrid group of multidisciplinary experts to coordinate efforts to understand and address LEO traffic-related deaths.  There is no other program, research or officer safety initiative currently in existence to offer this level of expertise and service to our LE agencies.

The SAFE Driving Campaign consists of an Advisory Board, Research Team and the Vehicle Operations and Training Advisory Council (VOTAC).

The Advisory Board membership includes:

Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund;
Gordon J. Graham, Esq., Graham Research Consultants;
Stan Hilkey, Sheriff of Mesa County, CO Sheriff's Department;
Charles E. Miller III, Coordinator, FBI Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Ambushed (LEOKA);
Colleen Mestas, Chief of the Visalia Police Department;
Michael Geraci, Director, NHTSA Office of Traffic Safety;
Gary Hart, U.S. Senator (ret.), State of Colorado/University of Colorado, Denver.

The Research Team includes:

Dr. Geoff Alpert, University of South Carolina;
Dr. Mary Dodge, University of Colorado, Denver;
Dr. Tom Rice, University of California, Berkeley;
Dr. Ron Tarr, University of Central Florida;
Dr. Bryan Vila, Washington State University, Spokane;
Dr. Kevin Wehr, California State University, Sacramento;
Dr. Jerry Williams, University of Colorado, Denver.

The Vehicle Operations and Training Advisory Council includes:

Richard Lindstrom, Director, State Center Regional Training Center, CA Academy Directors Association;
Jim Gordon, Lt., Stanislaus County Sheriff's Academy, CA Academy Directors Association;
Bob Miller, Chief of the Colton Police Department, CA Police Chiefs Association;
Brian Raffish, Lt., Los Angeles Police Department, CA Peace Officers Association;
John Leas, Lt., San Diego Police Department, CA Peace Officers Association;
Mark Pazin, Sheriff of Merced County Sheriff's Department, CA State Sheriffs Association;
Rod Rifredi, Sgt, Davis Police Department, PORAC;
Brent Newman, Captain, CA Highway Patrol Academy;
Mike Poore, Sgt., CA Highway Patrol Academy;

The SAFE Driving Campaign members have met periodically over the last several months and recently produced Volume 1 of the VOTAC Driver Training Study, an outstanding report on issues and cause factors relating to LEOs injured and killed in police collisions.  The VOTAC Study (found on this website) not only addresses the tough questions about why this happens to our officers and deputies but more importantly, focuses on improving LEO driver training strategies.  Volume 1 initially identified several notable driver training best practices:
  • Blended Training - use of both behind-the-wheel and simulators - produces the best training outcomes (performance in the field). 
  • Driver training technologies such as the SkidCar and LEDS allow for situational training that cannot (safely) be undertaken in a "real" setting.  (LEDS = law enforcement driving simulators)
  • Training at speeds equivalent to emergency operating speeds is an effective way to prepare officers for the challenges of emergency operations in traffic. 
  • Use of interference vehicles is an effective way to prepare officers for the challenges of emergency operations in traffic.
  • Use of training vehicles that are similar in make and model, equipment and weight distribution is an effective way to achieve realistic behind-the-wheel training.
  • Driver training during hours of darkness is an effective way to achieve realistic training.
CalPOST has done an admirable job of assembling a nationwide group of experts to focus on a very sensitive and pressing issue - law enforcement driver training.  They are committed to making this not only a training priority, but a mission to improve officer safety through enhanced driver training to effectively reduce LEOs injuries and deaths.

For more information on CalPOST's SAFE Driving Campaign, check our website's side bar.

Monday, March 15, 2010

EVOC Training Facility Survey Results

The results of the EVOC Facility Survey are in.  A special thank you to the 25 people who participated!  Without being too lengthy, I'll touch on the areas many of you had suggestions or concerns about.

Skid Pans and Skid Cars - We plan to incorporate both types of training props in our instruction at the new facility.  Each prop offers a different perspective on training delivery and we plan to maximize what we have to offer.  The new Skid Pan will be polished concrete with a rain bird/water recovery system similar to what is used at other EVOC Facilities.  The Skid Pan will be used during performance and pursuit driving exercises as well.

EVOC Building - The plan is to design a new building to accomodate EVOC staff, classrooms, restrooms, support equipment, props and driving simulators.  An area adjacent to the EVOC Building will house storage and a maintenance area for the EVOC track/support fleet with student parking close by.  Ultimately, the EVOC will provide one location for all driver training needs on-site, eliminating any down time due to travel.  Much like a firearms range or other EVOC facilities in California, students will report directly to the EVOC for their assigned training session (basic and in-service).

The Track - The proposed design (see layout at bottom of this page) incorporates different driving surfaces (asphalt, concrete, dry and wet pavement, minor elevations) as well as the flexibility to add/delete intersections.  With roughly 13 acres to work with, we may not be able to have all the bells and whistles (such as full railroad crossings and water hazards) but we'll evaluate what we can put into the design/build stage.  The Traffic Hazard Simulator (THS) will be built in with electronic signal lighting controls overhead.  Our longest straightaway spans just over 1,300 feet which should give us some fairly challenging speeds before we transition into the curves.  The perimeter wall will be Jersey/K-rail barriers with fencing on top, both for site security and containment of training vehicles.  A Control Tower will be constructed at the northeast corner of the track for safety purposes.  We will eventually conduct driver training on a variety of service vehicles.

Instructor Input - Many of you (92%) offered to participate in our group design discussions.  When we get to this point, I will send out a meeting invitation so you may join us.  In the near future, we will be using the blueprint of the proposed EVOC design to replicate it at the stadium parking lot for field testing.  Look for a future announcement so you can stop by, see it and drive it.

Priority of EVOC Training Delivery - Law enforcement basic academy and in-service training received the highest rating priority (100%), followed by Fire Rescue EMS basic/in-service and Federal agencies training, both tied at 76%.  State agencies received 72%, private ambulance companies 60%, with commercial fleet operations (trucks, limos, etc) receiving 48%.   The survey respondents priority is public safety service providers - we agree.  Our Joint Powers Agreement defines that first priority be given to JPA member agencies (City of San Diego Police and Fire Rescue, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the San Diego Community College District).  The next priority goes to our allied agencies who attend the PSTI for basic and advanced training.

Outside Facility Use - 76% of respondents felt the EVOC Facility could be used for outside interests (for a user fee) as long as it did not interfere with the training priorities of the facility. If an outside event is not related to training but generates revenue, a portion of the proceeds of the outside event may need to be shared with the City of San Diego as a condition of our lease. 

Top 3 Training Props/Techniques - Survey respondents gave their opinions on their favorites:  #1 - Driving Track demonstrations and driving exercises (100%),  #2 - Classroom Presentations with adult learning strategies and exercises (92%) and #3 - Commentary Driving Exercises (88%).  Law enforcement driving simulators (LEDS) followed at 84%. 

Night and Weekend Training - 100% of respondents felt night training is important to the overall training delivery package.  The Commission on POST agrees - we need to train in the conditions we will face on the street.  This also includes the use of "distractor" or "interference" cars during Code-3 Emergency Response and Pursuit driver training.  An interesting sidenote: 96% of you felt training should be conducted on weekends.  This is not unusual given the fact we currently use part-time driver training staff who take time off from full-time jobs to help instruct EVOC courses.

EVOC Staffing - Many of you would like to see a full-time EVOC staff on board when the facility opens, much like what we see at other EVOC and Firearms Training Facilities throughout the nation.  There are pros and cons to part-time and full-time staffing.  It is our hope that we can continue to provide an EVOC Facility Manager to market and manage this multi-million dollar facility as a business enterprise and an EVOC Coordinator who will run the day-to-day training operations, scheduling instructors and courses, maintaining props, vehicles and updating curricula.  Adjunct instructors will most likely continue as the norm until such time as the Board of Directors chooses to move in a new direction.

Survey Comments in General - The Pursuit Immobilization Technique (PIT) Manuever - will we train it?  This is an agency specific policy issue/question.  Most agencies do not use the PIT for a variety of reasons.  If the training need becomes a priority for the County Chiefs and Sheriffs Association, we will explore it but it does require specially equipped vehicles to teach and an area safe to allow for spin outs - two things we don't have right now.  The PIT is an excellent tool when used correctly at slow speeds to terminate a pursuit.  We'll keep an eye on this topic for future discussion.

We need to train to the issues that cause accidents.  We agree and will coordinate our training delivery to reduce current cause factors as well as forecast potential training issues associated with the new technology facing us, both inside the car as well as the systems supporting traction and stability controls.  Most agencies review collisions internally and share their findings with our EVOC instructors.  We also look at nationwide trends and address them with our students.  Some of the best training comes from "Lessons Learned".

We need to teach more POST Driving Courses here in San Diego.  Yes, we agree and plan to do just that when we have the proper facility in place to do it right.  This includes Driving Instructor courses.  San Diego is a fantastic training venue and we constantly field calls requesting training here.  If we build it, they will come.

Again, thanks to all who participated in the survey!  It is much appreciated.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

POST Meeting in San Diego - Driving Simulators

The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) began a 3 day conference in San Diego today to discuss law enforcement driving simulators (LEDS) and force option simulators (FOS).  Regional Skills Centers and a variety of law enforcement agency presenters attended to discuss the rollout of over $10m in LEDS throughout the state.  See: for details on the POST contract.  San Diego is scheduled to receive 4 new FAAC LEDS in October 2010, courtesy of POST!

Attending today's LEDS conference were George Beitey, Dean of Miramar College's School of Public Safety, Sgt Kevin Rausis (EVOC Coordinator), Lt John Leas (EVOC Training Manager) and retired officer Bob Hendrix (EVOC Instructor).  Bob will assist POST with LEDS installations throughout the state as a consultant over the next several months.  A number of logistical issues were discussed including what to do with the older L3 simulators we currently have, instructor training/certification, site installation challenges, etc.  Without boring everyone, let's just say Kevin has his work cut out for him over the next several months as we strategize on San Diego's options and ultimate installation.  The next Regional Officer Training cycle will include LEDS in the EVOC curriculum.  The new FAAC system will be an excellent addition to our training props.  EVOC instructors - keep an eye out for future announcements regarding training on the new system.

Dane Pitarresi from SkidCar Incorporated ( spoke at the conference to share the latest on SkidCars in North America.  Almost every EVOC center represented today has at least one SkidCar as a training prop.  Dane asked for feedback from the group and shared his thoughts on how EVOC instructors need to be prepared for the next generation of vehicles hitting the street, specifically those that incorporate electronic stability programs (ESP) that controls throttle and braking application beyond the driver's input.  The Dodge Charger is an example of just such a vehicle... As ESP equipped cars start to roll out in our fleets, we'll need to be prepared to discuss the pros and cons and handling characteristics that our officers will face in the future.  More to come on this topic later... 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Planning Meeting and Construction Update

On Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, members of the NTC PSTI EVOC Workgroup met at Miramar College to kick off our next phase of our project.  This was the first in a series of meetings that will be conducted twice each month to keep momentum going as we work towards our ultimate goal.

Attending from the San Diego Community College District was Richard Burkhart, Construction Manager;  Scott Ellis, Project Manager-Continuing Ed;  and George Beitey, Dean, School of Public Safety, San Diego Miramar College.  From the San Diego Police Dept.:  Lt. John Leas,  Sgt. John Trent and Sgt. Kevin Rausis. From the San Diego Fire Rescue Dept.:  Ken Barnes, Battalion Chief, and guest Chris Webber, representing our Region's Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) group.  From the San Diego County Sheriff’s Dept.:  Brian Sampson, Director, Support Services; and Lt. Dave Moss, Academy Director.  Future meetings will include City of San Diego staff from the Development Services, Real Estate Assets and the Redevelopment Agency-Community Planning Departments.  Their expertise, guidance and support will be crucial as we work through the necessary goverment agency approvals.

Our discussion centered first on developing an MOU between the City, County and Community College District, to identify our respective roles, commitments and responsibilities during the development and eventual rollout of EVOC at NTC.  Each group is working internally to identify construction, operation and maintenance expenses specific to their entity. We are also evaluating projected personnel staffing and training equipment needs for the EVOC facility.  Eventually, we'll reconvene to discuss, modify and draft the EVOC MOU for approval by each Director on our Board.  All attendees agreed we need to identify as much as possible now to avoid ambiguity later.

Discussion also covered the need to prepare a seperate MOU for a potential parking lot vendor after Phase I construction is completed.  Because of the two phase construction timetable and logistics with moving the Fire/EMT Program off their present site (in our Phase II construction area), the opportunity exists to use the completed Phase I area temporarily as a parking lot servicing airport patrons.  If this option presents itself, the MOU will need to include agreements as to who draws up the RFP for the vendor, how parking revenues are disbursed and where the revenues will ultimately land.  The Project Team would like to see parking revenues placed into the NTC EVOC Revenue Account for use in funding Phase II construction as well as support ongoing operation and maintenance expenses.  Our 66 year lease agreement with the City of San Diego defines various uses of the property and this issue will require further negotiation to define the outcome in our MOU.

Richard Burkhart reminded us that the College District has Prop S and N bond money for the construction of the EVOC, Fire/EMT program and Academy program, for a total of $30 million. The District’s goal is to build EVOC at NTC, move the Fire/EMT program from NTC to a new site and also complete renovations, deferred maintenance and improvements to our existing Regional Academy facility at Miramar College.  It is clear to all of us that the College District is highly committed to their School of Public Safety.

Guest Chris Webber from San Diego Fire Rescue inquired about the status of the existing buildings 66-70 at NTC.  USAR uses these buildings for training and drills and he was concerned they would be demolished prior to USAR’s scheduled June qualification drills.  The Project Team advised they would be available one last time for their qualification drills, then demolished afterwards.

Many other minor discussions took place during this meeting.  George Beitey, Dean of Public Safety suggested we take our design plan for NTC and set it up to scale in the parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium to test and evaluate the viability of our proposed layout.  We all agreed and Leas and Rausis will coordinate this in the near future.

As a sidenote, you may have noticed the SD Airport Authority contractors have been busy working on the McCain Blvd and N. Harbor Drive entrance to PSTI (see photos on side bar).  They are doing an excellent job and ultimately will cut into the center median of N. Harbor Drive, install a traffic signal and greatly improve ingress and egress for all of us.  This should make for a very nice entrance to our facility when it is completed.

That's the latest for now.  Remember to take the survey (see side bar) as it will close March 15th.  Look for the results in a future posting after that time.