Below 100: How Snohomish County is using Telogis to improve officer safety

Law enforcement comes with inherent risks. Officers face a lot of different dangers while on the job, with the number one hazard being something that might not be your first guess.

The majority of officer fatalities (over 35%) are caused by car accidents.* And almost half involved unbelted officers.

A major aim of the Below 100 Program is addressing these and other leading causes of officer deaths. The program focuses on five tenets that promote key ways to encourage officer safety, two of which relate particularly to safe driving and can be managed using Telogis telematics software.

The Under 100 Program took on special meaning for Undersheriff Rob Beidler of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office while undertaking specialized training at the FBI’s National Academy in Quantico, VA. A presentation by Kim Schlau, a mother of two daughters killed by a state trooper’s reckless driving, really made an impact, underscoring the importance of actively managing office safety behind the wheel.

“I realized that my positional authority as Snohomish County’s under- sheriff obligated me to ensure that my people make it home every night. Safety is paramount.” Undersheriff Rob Beidler, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office

The telematics software allows managers to coach deputies and other drivers on safe driving behavior including seat belt use and excessive speed, using real-time data and contextual reporting (such as if the lightbar was activated at the time). The location tracking is also proving invaluable for reporting to city officials on time spent patrolling certain areas, which can be paired with relevant crime statistics.

Beyond safety - Cost-savings that offer a positive return on investment

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office investment in safety has been rewarded with significant cost savings in several areas.

Fuel savings - By reducing unnecessary idling by 1.4 hours per vehicle, per shift, the County expects to recover the cost of implementing the telematics solution.

“I think we’ll double or triple that idling reduction goal.”

Maintenance costs - By actively monitoring vehicle condition, the County is able to eliminate over-servicing of patrol cars, reducing vehicle downtime and minimizing the cost of parts.

“We’re spending less on brake and tire replacement.”

Other cost savings - With a reduction in accidents, other costs such as repairs, medical expenses, litigation and, potentially, insurance premiums, have dropped.

“The savings on collisions and litigation is unbelievable.” (Vehicle collisions during 2015 cost the county $151,171 in medical and legal expenses and lost work hours and wages – plus $2.3 million in litigation expenses.)

The good news for the wider community is that it’s anticipated the dollar savings gained from using telematics software will be put to good use, benefiting the people the sheriff’s office is dedicated to serving.

“We’d like to use those extra funds to hire more deputies.”

Download the full case study (PDF)

*Vehicle incidents include struck by vehicle, motorcycle crash and auto crash.