- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Several law enforcement agencies are partnering to offer free training for officers around Ohio to promote on-the-job safety as part of an effort to reduce officer fatalities.

The training ranges from simply reminding police to wear seat belts to more complicated issues, such as deciding when to pursue a suspect, said Lt. Craig Cvetan, a State Highway Patrol spokesman.

“Are the things you do necessary, and are you doing them in the safest manner that you can do them to ensure that you go home at the end of the day?” Cvetan said. “That’s what this training is really about - officers looking at their tactics, their operations, the way they perform their duties … and the things they can do basically to protect themselves because we do have a very dangerous line of work.”

The first regional training session is planned for Aug. 26 in Findlay. Each session is designed to accommodate hundreds of officers from various agencies.

The trainers will use instruction from the Below 100 initiative, aimed at getting the annual national number of deaths in the line of duty under 100, a level that the initiative says hasn’t been reached in 70 years.

The Ohio training was unveiled Monday along with a related officer-safety measure: Nationwide Insurance is funding about 30 specialty protective vests for some departments, starting with four for Sugar Grove police in Fairfield County, southeast of Columbus. The insurer is accepting applications for the grants, which cover up to $1,000 per vest.

Sugar Grove Chief Curt Radabaugh calls that a big help for his tiny village department, whose few officers are part-time and have to buy their own uniforms and weapons, meaning it could take them months or years to save enough money to buy gear like the vests.

Radabaugh said he also plans to have his officers attend the Below 100 training to fend off complacency in personal safety.

“The more training you get, the more alert you are, the more your skills are sharpened,” he said.

The patrol is working with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and the Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association on the training, Cvetan said.

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