The Los Angeles Police Department has launched a new "buckle up" campaign—for the LAPD. Studies show that around half of police officers in America don't wear seat belts and though seat belt laws generally exclude law enforcement officers, traffic-related deaths are the leading cause of death of officers on duty and forces nationwide are trying to get them to change their ways, the AP finds. Experts say a big problem is fear of a "ninja" assailant who could ambush officers whose seat belts restricted their ability to reach their guns, but no such attack has ever been documented.
To educate officers, the LAPD is focusing on the 25th anniversary of the worst crash in its history, when two cruisers collided and three officers were thrown from their vehicles and killed. The sole survivor, who was wearing his seat belt, has just retired. He says rookies tend to copy senior officers who don't wear seat belts, and officers who don't wear them are rarely disciplined. "They say they emphasize seat belts but they really don't," he says. "If they start hitting us in our pocket books or we start taking suspension days for it, officers are going to buckle up." (Read more seatbelt stories.)