Guest Author – October 2021

Chief Brett Railey, Ret.

Chief Railey shares his passion for traffic safety

Law enforcement agencies—regardless of size, jurisdiction, and location—are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the roadways by conducting traffic enforcement. While the primary action may be enforcement, law enforcement leaders recognize that the utilization of the information that is derived from enforcement actions and the leadership example that is set are the greatest contributions to a successful traffic safety and community safety environment.

Every law enforcement officer’s policing philosophy is influenced by his or her training, their own life events, personal and professional experiences, and the experiences of his or her family and friends. The importance of safety on our roadways and the safety and security of all motorists travelling them is no different, and, in my case, my stance on traffic safety was influenced by a tragic traffic crash caused by an impaired driver that resulted in the death of my second cousin that left an indelible mark on my future career path. As my career evolved, I was also on duty as the midnight dispatcher for the Florida Highway Patrol when a Florida Highway Patrol trooper and an auxiliary trooper almost lost their lives because an impaired driver rear-ended their patrol car as the two troopers were conducting a traffic stop, and they became pinned between the two cars and couldn’t call for help. While these are my personal experiences, stories such as this resonate as I speak to both law enforcement and interested parties around the country on matters of traffic safety.

It is just such stories and experiences that have led me to remain involved in traffic safety initiatives in retirement where I have joined forces with Retired Colonel Ken Morckel (Ohio State Patrol) and Retired Col. John O’Rourke (Nevada Highway Patrol) to encourage law enforcement leaders to reinvest in traffic safety, specifically after the challenges faced in 2020.  Be it an officer’s reticence to engage in traffic enforcement during the COVID-19 pandemic or the general apathy of many law enforcement officers due to the heightened scrutiny and lack of public support in the wake of a few tragic incidents that attracted national attention, the fact remains that flagrant traffic violations have increased and traffic encounters are down.  Couple this with results of a Police Executive Research Forum poll released in December of 2020 showing that roughly 3.5% of respondents felt that improving traffic safety was among their top three priorities moving into 2021, and this makes for a deadly combination as traffic fatalities are on the rise.  While I won’t tire you with statistics (I have them available), the following information is readily available.

During our “Reinvesting in Traffic Safety Post 2020” presentation, Col. Morckel, Col. O’Rourke and I encourage police executives to, if nothing else, tell their officers that it is okay to reengage in traffic safety encounters, and that they will have the support of their administration as they do so.  We realize that “traffic safety” is a broad topic with volumes of traffic statutes to contend with so we encourage executives to start the reengagement of their departments in areas that will have the greatest impact on saving lives – the areas of impaired driving enforcement (no matter what the impairing substance), unrestrained motorist enforcement, speed enforcement, and pedestrian and bicycle (vulnerable roadway users) education and enforcement whether it be the pedestrian, cyclist or motor vehicle operator committing the violation.

If agencies moving forward from the challenges of 2020 would join with public advocacy groups (such as MADD and others) in the above-mentioned areas of traffic safety education and engagement, we collectively could positively impact roughly 80% of our nation’s roadway fatalities.

If you are interested in more specifics regarding Reinvesting in Traffic Safety Post 2020, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Chief Brett C. Railey (ret)

Former Winter Park FL Police Chief

V.P. Public Safety Services

The Digital Decision

Senior Consultant, PS SME

With 40+ years of public safety experience, Chief Railey is the former President & Executive Board Member for the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) and currently serves as a subject matter expert for the IACP CRI-TAC, is an SME in traffic safety, management, and making effective use of crime analysis to build a model crime analysis program.  Railey serves the IACP as Chair of the Technical Advisory Panel on Drugs, Alcohol and Impaired Driving.

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