Winner | Traffic Safety
Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct Five
The Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct Five HCCP5) is one of the largest constable’s departments in the country and is currently home to more than 1.2 million residents spanning 374 square miles and has over 80 miles of highways and tollways. Precinct Five currently has 385 commissioned deputies, 17 telecommunicators, and 28 clerks.
As a result of two of their three line of duty deaths being deputies who were killed when they were struck by vehicles, the Harris County Constables began working on improving traffic safety for its members. Defining the problem for the department meant looking at their vehicle crashes to see where the deputy’s needed improvement. They discovered that deputies were over-driving their capabilities by going too fast, and not properly clearing intersections, or making poor decisions under stress while driving Priority One (lights and sirens).
To accomplish their goal of reducing crashes and injuries, HCCP5 took on a comprehensive, multi-prong approach. But, like many agencies, they faced issues of time, equipment, facilities, and budget. Due to the lack of facilities, and initially lack of instructors, Precinct 5 had to outsource Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) training to local academies.
In 2019 HCCP5 purchased a driving simulator and had 11 personnel certified as Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) instructors. The initial training consisted of a four-hour block of instruction where the instructors’ introduced students, via the driving simulator, to good driving habits, while adding realism and high stress without the worry of damaging patrol cars or injuring their deputies. HCCP5 then created a 32-hour course of instruction.
After learning that vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of law enforcement deaths each year, HCCP5 sent five instructors to Below 100 to further add to their EVOCC training. All deputies were trained in Below and given remedial training in department policy and state vehicle code requirements. The use of seat belts always was a strong component of this training.
Another element was the saying, "If your feet are on the street, the vest (High visibility reflective) is upon your chest.” This mantra reinforced the need for officers to wear their hi vis gear when operating on the roadway.
HCCP5 was also able to secure the use of a 319,000 square foot parking lot that was abandoned and they use that lot for their 32-hour block of live EVOC training.
Through all their effort and training, Harris County Constable Precinct 5 has shown remarkable improvement in getting their deputies to drive safely. In 2018 the department had nine at-fault crashes while driving to Priority One calls In. 2019 the department had seven. During the calendar year 2020 the agency had only one Priority One crash.