INDIO, Calif. -- - Every year since World War II, more than 100 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty across the US.
Like many good ideas, a concept to lower that number below 100 started over dinner in 2010.
"A couple high-ranking officers from around the country were in a conference, and there were a lot of line of duty deaths recently and they wanted a program to reduce those," says Officer Mike Radford with the California Highway Patrol.
Now every agency in the country endorses the "Below 100" program, where law enforcement follows five key rules to improve officer safety.
"Always wear your vest, always wear your seatbelt, watch for speed, and think about what's important now, and complacency kills," reminds Radford.
It may seem like common sense, but statistics released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show the campaign is working.
"In 2012, there was 123 line of duty deaths in the country -- which was the lowest in 50 years," said Radford, "but in 2013 it dropped to 107, which is the lowest since 1944."
Still, accidents happen.
Just last week, two officers in Fresno were killed while responding to an accident where the victim was standing in the roadway. Both officers died instantly as they veered off the road to avoid that person.
It's a reminder that the general public needs to help keep law enforcement stay safe, too.
"We do notice a trend that's going down," says Ben Guitron with the Indio Police Department. "It'll continue to go down as long as the public understands law enforcement is out there to keep the peace and keep communities safe, and in return law enforcement constantly remember their training and keep safe out there."
Five Indio CHP officers have died in the line of duty since the 1950's. He says even decades later, their memory is a reminder of the dangers law enforcement officers face every day.
"Good cops are going to die every year," said Radford with a stoic expression. "Every officer must keep those five principles in mind at all times and make them the norm."
For more information on the campaign and the statistics, visit www.Below100.com.
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