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 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 help others and save lives.
As we have learned in aviation, medicine, and other high-risk 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 share their near miss experiences?
Near misses provide lessons learned, and sharing these with fellow officers across the country can prevent another officer from being injured or killed. Additionally, reporting near misses to LEO Near Miss allows us to systematically analyze near-miss incidents to identify trends and risk factors that law enforcement agencies can proactively address through improvements to policy, training, or equipment in order to reduce risk, improve officer safety, and save lives.
How long does it take to submit a report?
On average, it takes about 5-10 minutes to submit a report. On our mobile app, you can use your phone’s voice-to-text functionality for the narrative portions of the report to speed up the process.
What happens to the reports that are submitted to LEO Near Miss?
All reports submitted to LEO Near Miss undergo a two-stage review process by trained reviewers prior to publication on the LEO Near Miss website. In the first stage of the review, a reviewer will edit the report to correct any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors. Importantly, the first reviewer will also remove any identifying information, such as proper names or incident numbers, to ensure the anonymity of the author and the persons and/or agencies involved in the incident.
During the second stage of the review process, another reviewer will assess the authenticity of the report (i.e., ensuring it was submitted by law enforcement personnel) and remove any information that is deemed “law enforcement sensitive,” such as specific details related to officer tactics. From there, the reviewer will read the “lessons learned” provided by the author of the report and, based on their own expertise in law enforcement, offer additional takeaways, if necessary.
If a report clears both stages of the review process, it will be published on the LEO Near Miss website and included in our internal database for analysis. It usually takes about 7-14 business days from the time a report is submitted to the time it is published, but the process could take longer depending on the complexity of the report.
Who reviews the reports that are submitted to LEO Near Miss?
Each report submitted to LEO Near Miss will be reviewed by two to three reviewers, depending on the complexity of the reported near miss. Reviewers are either current or former law enforcement with at least 10 years of law enforcement experience, although many of our reviewers have more than 20 years of law enforcement experience.
How quickly will a report be published on LEOnearmiss.org?
Reports will usually be published within 7-14 business days to allow for a thorough review process, but some reports may require a longer, more extensive review.
How can my agency get involved with LEO Near Miss?
Is LEO Near Miss available as a smartphone app?
Yes, we have an app available on iOS and Android devices. Simply search for “LEO Near Miss” in the App Store or Google Play.
How is my anonymity protected when I submit a report?
The LEO Near Miss website captures and stores user IP addresses for up to 24 hours after access for security reasons, but all IP addresses are deleted thereafter and never tied to submitted reports. Furthermore, any identifying information contained in the report will be deleted during our review of the report to ensure the anonymity of the persons and agencies involved in the incident.
When submitting a report, the author does have the option to leave contact information in case our reviewers have any clarification or follow-up questions, but this is entirely optional. Should an author decide to provide contact information, it will be deleted at the conclusion of the review process.
*Note: if your agency is participating in our LEO Near Miss officer safety program, you will be asked to provide your agency’s ORI9 identifier when submitting a report. However, this information will only be used for our internal analysis and will never be published.
Can LEO Near Miss be used for punitive action against officers?
We have taken numerous steps to ensure that LEO Near Miss preserves the anonymity of authors and the persons and/or agencies involved in the reported incidents so that no individual or agency can be identified for punitive action. The purpose of the system is strictly for promoting learning and enhancing officer safety and wellness, not for disciplinary action.
If your agency is participating in our LEO Near Miss officer safety program, please note that reports submitted to LEO Near Miss will not go to your agency; they will still be administered, reviewed, and de-identified by the Police Foundation in order to preserve the anonymity of the author and maintain the non-punitive nature of the system. When the Police Foundation provides an analysis of near-miss incidents to your agency, the report narratives will not be provided to further protect the anonymity of the author or persons involved.
What if someone else has already submitted a report about an incident? Should I report it as well?
Yes, we encourage all law enforcement personnel involved in a near miss to submit a report. Each person involved has a unique perspective on the incident that will be valuable to our analysis.
Can I report a near miss on behalf of someone else?
Yes, it is fairly common for a training officer or supervisor to submit a near miss report on behalf of another officer. However, we encourage all law enforcement personnel involved in a near miss to submit their own report on the incident to capture their unique perspective and thoughts.
What if the incident/event being reported is currently under an active investigation?
While we do remove all identifying information from reports prior to publication, it is not recommended to report anything that you believe may put the author or persons/agencies involved in the incident at risk of exposure. If this is the case and you would still like to submit a report on the incident, we encourage you to submit the report after the investigation has concluded.
Given the public nature of the reporting system, how is law enforcement sensitive information protected?
During our report review process, our trained law enforcement reviewers will remove any law enforcement sensitive information, including specific details related to officer tactics, before the report is published on the LEO Near Miss website.
Can users search near misses related to a specific topic area?
Yes. In the report library, you will see a list of categories and tags that you can click to search for specific content. “Categories” denote the type of call or activity an officer was responding to or engaged in at the time of the near miss incident, and “tags” represent key factors or issues identified in the near miss incidents.
Who can submit reports to LEO Near Miss?
All law enforcement personnel, both sworn and civilian, can report near miss incidents to LEO Near Miss. All reports submitted to LEO Near Miss undergo a two-stage review process by trained reviewers prior to publication. If, during the review process, our reviewers determine that a report was not submitted by law enforcement, the report may not be published.
Are all reports that are submitted to LEO Near Miss published on the website?
No. All reports submitted to LEO Near Miss undergo a two-stage review process by trained reviewers prior to publication. Most reports clear the review process and are subsequently published on the website, but some do not. If, during the review process, our reviewers determine that a report was not submitted by law enforcement, the report will not be published. Another situation in which a report may not be published is when a report lacks enough detail or clarity to provide value to readers. While our reviewers will make every attempt to follow-up with the author (if contact information was provided) to obtain additional detail or clarify any confusion, this may not be possible, so the report may not be published. Lastly, if a report references a very high-profile incident that, even when de-identified, risks identifying the persons or agencies involved, the report may not be published until a later time.
If I start a report, can I stop and resume my progress at a later time?
In order to preserve anonymity, there is no identifier or account associated with a report that enables users to save their progress and return later. However, the report questionnaire does not time out, so if you leave your Internet session open, you will be able to return to the report and continue at a later time. Please be mindful, though, about doing this on computers or devices that may be accessible by others.
Who can access the library of reports?
Currently, the library of published reports is publicly available, but access will eventually be restricted to law enforcement only.
Who administers LEO Near Miss?
LEO Near Miss (www.LEOnearmiss.org)
is administered by the Police Foundation, an independent, non-profit, non-partisan research organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information on the Police Foundation, please visit our website at www.PoliceFoundation.org