Roadside Assisting by Law Enforcement Officers

I have produced a 50-minute video which could be used in-house by law enforcement departments to help train officers to perform simple, safe, quick roadside assists with the agenda of winning hearts and minds in communities they serve – much needed in today’s too-often toxic social climate.  Several measures are pro-active.  Please check out the video at this link: https://vimeo.com/200599109

The complete plan I am offering includes: 1) the book: see “The Book” page of this website (as a foundation, but its use could be deferred or declined – with some training degradation – if the department opts out); 2) a supplementary list of Tips and Equipment for Police Officers (Click here)- with estimated cost of each item), and 3) the video – which summarizes the book and the list.  The list and video are free.  Departments would acquire recommended assist equipment items independently from me; I have zero involvement except to recommend them.  The book, if wanted, is available at bulk rates far below retail; see the attached pricing schedule: (Click here).

The video stipulates that officer roadside assists should occur only when operational priorities allow and that traditional law enforcement duties clearly have a higher priority.  The video specifies that the only assists I propose are changing tires and bringing gas (not carrying gas in the patrol vehicle, but fetching it if there’s time).  Also that I’m 73 and have never been injured – because I use proper methods and equipment and take safety precautions shown in the video.  My book (and I) routinely deal also with lockouts, dead batteries (with related electrical issues), and overheating.  But the video specifies that these are not part of the training for law enforcers since they increase liability risk.

It also suggests that for officer safety, two be present – one to perform the assist and another in “overwatch”.  Assisting officers may have the owner/driver of the disabled vehicle sign a liability waiver before any assist work begins. 

Your department may have a fleet of vehicles dedicated to assisting broken down motorists – which would be great.  But sometimes the most efficient way to do a job like assisting broken down motorists isn’t always the best for PR.  One big reason for doing roadside assists anywhere, especially in urban areas, is to win hearts and minds, community trust, and cooperation with law enforcement – considering the toxic relations in many cities between law enforcement and primarily minority communities.  An in-service officer who, when priorities allow, can participate hands-on in the assist – even if all he does is to loosen some tight lug nuts (and not merely summon a wrecker or a member of a fleet of rescue vehicles) – will make a bigger, better impression on the assist recipient as well as all others in the area who witness the assist as he/she promotes community engagement and dialogue.

We can agree that my initiative is “outside-the-box”, but so would be the positive reaction from assist recipients as well as many others in the area who would witness the assists.  Sometimes difficult problems justify out-of-the-box solutions!

I believe that such a policy, implemented by officers trained and equipped via my proposal, would help law enforcement departments gain respect and cooperation from served communities, making law enforcement easier and more productive in the long run.  Wouldn’t this represent a “Win-Win” for all?  What do you have to lose?  If “Carrot and Stick” can be applied to law enforcement, simple roadside assisting can be part of the carrot, while proactive deterrent measures on the street can be part of the stick.  Just imagine where this could lead in our polarized society. 

Personal gratification from rendering assists is immense; this is a big reason I keep doing them.  Some law enforcement agencies have problems with manpower, including retention and recruiting.  Most people in law enforcement came there because they are service-oriented.  Performing occasional roadside assists can help cops feel good about themselves – which should help retention and recruiting.

Here’s a short video segment illustrating the positive impact of an in-service officer in Montgomery, Texas, helping a woman change her flat tire: https://www.policeone.com/quiet-warrior/articles/329834006-Video-Cop-helps-woman-fix-tire-changes-her-perspective-on-police/. The woman, RoseMary Atanga, said her first instinct was “Lord here is another white officer, help me.”  But she soon realized that officer Steven Squier was an “angel who God sent.”  This is exactly the kind of response your officers can expect when doing roadside assists – which would lead to increased trust and cooperation from supported communities.  Similar heartfelt expressions of thanks for my 2,000+ assists are what made me believe that this has great potential for law enforcement too.  Officers like Squier would be even safer and more efficient doing such assists if they use methods and tools described in my plan.

Also, here is a link to the latest newsletter for National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE), which includes an article, toward the end, suggesting agencies consider my plan: http://nawlee.org/NEWSLETTER/NAWLEE%20Newsletter%20April2017%20Final.pdf

The website for PoliceOne, #1 Law Enforcement resource for news, training and videos, has featured an article about why and how police can win hearts and minds by doing simple, safe, quick roadside assists: https://www.policeone.com/police-products/vehicles/articles/346620006-Why-police-roadside-assists-can-improve-community-relations/

Some law enforcement agencies may have difficulty affording the items I recommend for each police car (about $600) to do these assists.  NOTE: Although I recommend these items, I am not involved in any way with providing them.  Some agencies are requesting grants; here are two suggested places I have found to start that process:  1) PoliceOne recommends:  https://www.policegrantshelp.com/; 2) DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance suggested using the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program: https://www.bja.gov/Jag/.  FY17 funds became available in late July.  The manager of the JAG program in Washington has told me that local agencies may apply for funding for tools to facilitate roadside assists.