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State Police joining program to reduce officer deaths nationwide

Gino Geruntino

The New York State Police will soon embark on a training program meant to cut down on the number of officers killed in the line of duty.

State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico says the “Below 100” program used by other departments, including the Syracuse Police Department, focuses on five tenets of safety.

“We look at ourselves and say it’s what we preach every day, anyway," D'Amico said. "Wear your vest, think about your family, drive safely, slow down. Stuff we preach. So I think it’s a good program for us. We’re in the process now of training and we’ll be rolling it out later in the year.”

D’Amico says this is a good time to institute the program, because the number of officers dying in the line of duty across the country so far has risen.

“Unfortunately, this is a bad start this year nationwide," D'Amico explained. "Line of duty deaths are up 18-20 percent across the nation this year, and something very alarming -- by guns, which is something we haven’t seen. We’ve seen it going the other way, more by traffic, less by guns.”

He says he doesn't have an exact reason why more fatalities are occurring.

"You see some of the trends in the city against things like 'stop and frisk' that encourage people to carry guns where they didn’t do it," D'Amico explained. "You do enforcement, and if people are worried about being arrested and they leave it at home, they feel a little bit safer so they bring it out. You see a lot of public sentiment against aggressive police tactics. Maybe that’s contributing, I don’t know.”

The State Police are in the midst of a bad stretch of officer deaths. Over the last 15 months, five troopers have been killed on the job,  including one killed during on a traffic stop on Interstate 81 earlier this year.