The Police Foundation, with support from the U.S. Department of Justice and other law enforcement organizations, has developed a voluntary, non-disciplinary reporting system that allows law enforcement personnel to read about and anonymously share “close calls” or “near misses”, which provide lessons learned that can protect others from similar incidents.
A near miss is defined as a close call and/or unsafe occurrence that could have resulted in a serious injury or fatality if not for a fortunate break in the chain of events. Near misses oftentimes include contributing factors like hazardous conditions, subjects with concealed weapons, failed equipment, or lapses in situational awareness. Regardless of the situation, they provide lessons learned, and reporting a near miss allows fellow officers to learn from these incidents so they can go home to their loved ones after every shift.
Simply put, there are significantly more near misses than serious injuries or fatalities. It is evident in industries that collect near-miss data (aviation, fire/EMS services, health care/medicine, mining, nuclear power operations, and the military) that for every major incident, injury, or fatality, there are hundreds of near misses that could be analyzed and used in training and risk management to prevent a tragedy.
LEO Near Miss is strictly for promoting learning and enhancing officer safety and wellness. Users can browse the site, read the lessons learned from near misses experienced by other officers, and anonymously share their own near-miss experiences. Near-miss reports submitted to the site undergo a two-stage review process by law enforcement experts to remove all identifying information (ensuring anonymity when published) and to highlight important takeaways for improving officer safety. It takes less than 10 minutes to submit a basic report, and you can do it right from your smart phone or in-car computer. The Police Foundation does not require, keep, or share any personally identifiable information about who reported an incident (including e-mail addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, etc.) and does not require an officer to obtain any prior authorization to submit a report. Any personally identifiable information in the report is deleted before publishing so that the report is never tied to a specific agency, officer, location or incident in any identifiable way.
In addition to providing lessons learned, the LEO Near Miss system will identify and report on the underlying risk factors and characteristics that are contributing to near-miss incidents. This anonymized information will be made available to the law enforcement community to improve training, equipment, policies, procedures, and tactics in order to reduce risk, improve officer safety, and save lives.
Please consider sharing your near-miss experiences. The short time you take to submit a report could save the life of a fellow officer.
How can your near miss help other law enforcement personnel?
If you share an incident in which you escaped a serious injury or accident or otherwise averted a more serious incident, what you learned can save a life, or help others.
As we have learned in aviation, medicine, and other industries, sharing these incidents in a voluntary and anonymous manner makes a big difference in the lives of your peers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should law enforcement personnel (also referred to herein as “reporters”) share their near miss experience?
By sharing a ‘near miss’ incident, a law enforcement reporter could be saving a fellow officer from having to experience it for him or herself. Law enforcement personnel who report incidents through this system play an active role in contributing to the safety of others in the law enforcement community.
How is this reporting system anonymous when my agency’s computers are monitored by my city/county IT personnel?
The LEO Near Miss platform ensures reports cannot be traced back to the report submitter through his or her computer’s IP Address. Furthermore, a panel of law enforcement subject matter experts reviews each report and permanently deletes any identifying information.
If there is a concern that an agency is tracking this information, we recommend that incidents be reported from a personal laptop, smartphone and/or personal desktop system.
How long does it take to submit a report?
On average, it takes between 5-10 minutes to complete a basic report and 10-20 minutes to complete a detailed report. While longer, detailed reports are more useful for identifying the risk factors and characteristics of near miss incidents.
What if other officers/law enforcement personnel from the same agency have already submitted information about this incident?
Through the www.LEOnearmiss.org reporting system, we are looking for individual and agency level interpretations of “near misses” as well as the lessons that each reporter may have learned in this situation. We recommend that reporters submit any incident in which there has been a lesson learned and fellow officers can learn from it, even if it is possible someone else may have already submitted it.
Is the information reported on the www.LEOnearmiss.org system open to legal discovery?
The www.LEOnearmiss.org reporting system’s architecture captures and stores IP addresses for up to 24 hours after access for security reasons, but IP addresses are deleted thereafter. However, IP addresses are never linked to submitted reports, thereby making the reports anonymous. This ensures that reports cannot be traced back to any individual or organization. Furthermore, a panel of subject matter experts reviews each report and permanently deletes any identifying information from the reports.
What if an agency has a policy that personnel are prohibited from sharing incident information regardless of the incident status?
LEO Near Miss is strictly a voluntary program. We rely on individuals who want to share their experiences to help other law enforcement officers learn. If the incident has been highly publicized such that it is likely the reporter could be identified, we will either remove any details that could help individuals identify the reporter and/or agency, or we will not post the details and instead simply add the near miss report to our database for data analysis.
How quickly will a report be posted on the www.LEOnearmiss.org website?
Reports will usually be posted within 7-14 business days to allow for a thorough review process, but some reports may require a more extensive review.
Are all incidents that are submitted actually posted to the www.LEOnearmiss.org reporting system website?
Each report goes through a thorough review process, where the report is vetted, personally identifiable information is removed, and lessons learned are identified. This process usually takes about 7-14 business days, although in some cases it may take longer. If there is any risk that an incident could be linked to a specific individual, department, or case, it will not be posted or made publicly available. To the extent that we can share the lessons learned without providing enough detail for the reporter to be identified, we will include the information. It may also be that one of the experts from our review panel tried to contact the reporter for clarification or additional information, and that reporter has not responded. In such cases, we will not be able to post the report until such time as the reporter can clarify the information needed to post the report.
Do incidents need to be uploaded in one sitting? Is the system flexible enough to have reporters start and stop reports midway?
Reporters have at least a two-hour window to complete a report once initiated before the system will time out. If at all possible, reporters should try to ensure a window of 15-20 minutes is available before beginning a report so that it can be completed in one sitting. Reporters will not able to change a submitted report because of the security system designed to protect individual identities.
What if the system “times out” when a reporter is in the middle of entering an event/incident?
The system will time out after two hours, and any report that has not been submitted will not be saved. Should this happen, we encourage reporters to go back in the system to begin again, as entering a report could save an officer’s life. Before starting to enter a report, reporters should plan to have at least 15-20 minutes to complete a report in one sitting.
What if the incident/event being reported is currently under an active investigation?
We recommend that reporters not post any information that may put the reporter or their agency at risk of exposure, despite the fact that we remove all identifying information.
Do reporters need to include all of the details of the incident?
Any information reporters can provide will be helpful to the extent that this helps to illustrate a “lesson learned” or offer a “tip” for others. The system allows reporters to skip any questions by jumping ahead to those questions that are most appropriate and/or the reporter is willing or able to answer.
Can reporters search incidents related to a topic area?
This system is open to the public, which means that law enforcement personnel do not have to enter information in order to access published incident reports. The system is designed so that the larger public safety community can search reports to seek out others’ similar experiences and/or lessons learned.
Who has access to the www.LEOnearmiss.org reporting system?
Law enforcement personnel, both sworn and civilian are able to report incidents to the www.LEOnearmiss.org system. Before an incident/event gets posted, it is vetted (reviewed) by a panel of authorized law enforcement subject matter experts. These reviewers ensure validity, delete personally identifiable information, and may make modifications to protect the reporter’s anonymity. Those who are not in law enforcement who attempt to enter information will be screened out.
Given the public nature of the reporting system, how do reporters protect strategies and tactics that pose internal security concerns?
This system is operated by the Police Foundation, and only authorized users have access to the system. If an event/incident is entered that includes details about tactics or strategies that need to be kept from the public, our subject matter experts who review and “vet” the entries will ensure that the tactical/strategic information is excluded from public view.
What happens to the reports that are submitted to www.LEOnearmiss.org?
After being vetted and de-identified by a panel of authorized law enforcement subject matter experts, the near miss reports get published and posted to www.LEOnearmiss.org. This usually occurs within 7-14 business days, but could take longer in some instances. The library of shared reports and lessons learned can be an invaluable training and informational resource for law enforcement personnel. Additionally, reports will be analyzed to identify risk factors, trends, and emerging hazards to improve the safety and wellness of law enforcement officers.
Who can access the library of reports?
The library of published reports is publicly available.