Committee reveals results of police protocol review after death of Colerain Twp officer
COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (FOX19) - Nearly a year after a Colerain Township police officer lost his life from to injuries he suffered at the scene of a traffic crash, a newly released report lists ways policing could be made safer.
Officer Dale Woods was hit by a pickup truck as he moved a traffic cone at a crash site along Colerain Avenue the evening of Jan. 4.
The 46-year-old father of three died a hospital three days later.
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The incident prompted Colerain Township Police Chief Mark Denney to appoint a six-person committee made up of law enforcement officials.
He asked them to thoroughly review police protocol following Officer Woods’ death, including the police department’s policies, training and equipment.
At the time, the chief said his goal was to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring again.
“I want our policies reviewed, our available equipment reviewed, best practices reviewed and they’re going to provide me with a report... we purposefully left the command staff out of this because we may have some of the blame in this," Denney said in February. “I want to know if we failed to provide something for our officers. If we don’t learn something from this or fail to even try... this is in vain. We truly believe we’re going to come up with some suggestions to save officers lives in the future.”
Paul Humphries headed up the review. He is a retired assistant Cincinnati police chief who was a 30-year veteran with the department who now works for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
Humphries said the chief told him ‘Don’t pull any punches.’ Whatever we need to do to make things safer for his cops, he wanted done.”
Humphries revealed the results of the review Tuesday night, sharing the team’s recommendations at the Colerain Township trustee meeting.
Tragic accidents, he said in his opening remarks, cannot always be prevented.
“The overall answer is that people need to slow down. They need to pay attention, but there’s no way that when an elderly person has a medical event that goes through barricades and strikes an officer, you’re just not going to prevent that," Humphries told the trustees.
The committee believes policing can be made safer through hands-on traffic training, he said.
Colerain police leaders are planning to add a program similar to one currently in place in Tipp City, Ohio.
“Present an intersection and ask the officer, 'right now, OK, here’s the cars, here’s the crash, here’s the incident, here’s the injuries, how’re you going to handle this?” Humphries said at the meeting.
The committee also is encouraging Colerain police supervisors to look at officers’ body camera footage from crash scenes during performance evaluations, he said.
The committee also compared different kinds of safety attire and equipment.
“We made recommendations for the traffic vests. We looked at hats," Humphries said. "We looked at gloves. We looked at different colors of the cones, the wands, they put on flashlights.”
Ultimately, they compiled a list of the best items on the market in the report, in the hopes that the suggestions they made could potentially save an officer’s life.
“I think Dale would be proud of his department,” Humphries said. “After Dale was killed, the community held a fundraiser at Clovernook Country Club to raise money to buy safety equipment like vests and things like that. There was a tremendous outpouring of support for the community. That was really neat to see."
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