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Monday, October 15, 2012

LMCIT Loss Control Assists with Accident Reduction

Two of the "problem" pillars
The Problem Since the Lakeville Police Department moved into their new police station in 2008, they had experienced a number of car accidents in their underground garage. Most of the accidents were the result of squad cars colliding with concrete pillars as they backed in or out of their assigned parking spaces or turned “too short” and struck a pillar. Lakeville reached out to their League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) field consultant, Matt Columbus, for assistance. 

The Visit Matt met with the Lakeville fleet supervisor, Sergeant John Kornmann, and his staff as they mapped out what was happening, identified trends, common causation factors, and walked through the garage. There were multiple factors in play, including the parking of cars still in service, the cars that were out of service, a variety of vehicles with different turning radiuses, blind spots, and those pillars. 

During the field visit, the officers mentioned an unrelated outside driveway where they had experienced a couple of “near misses” due to officers stepping out from behind a blind corner and onto the driveway, unaware that a squad car was approaching. 

Brainstorming In what could best described as brainstorming, ideas were put forward and validated against the real-world needs of running a police department. Good ideas were walked through, diagrams were drawn, and some workable solutions began to emerge. All agreed that test periods were a good idea before more permanent solutions were implemented. They initially began by marking the driveway with chalk and using temporary signs. 

Lakeville staff begin to implement the changes
The Results In the words of Lakeville Police Chief Tom VanHoff: “What a success!” The final plan included the implementation of one-way traffic in the garage, a designated parking plan for the in-service squads, increasing visibility, and protecting the pillars. They also figured out the pedestrian problem outside and have received many positive comments from officers about the improvement in safety. It was teamwork, collaboration, and the expertise of both the officers and Matt that made this work. 

Police departments may not be as familiar with LMCIT’s field consultants as public works. You should know that all LMCIT member cities are assigned a consultant who can help with projects like this, and other workplace health and safety concerns. Contact Cheryl Brennan at (651) 215-4079 if you would like the contact information for your field representative. 

And the accidents? Only one minor accident has occurred since the changes were made, and the problem was swiftly identified and corrected. The Lakeville Police Department has achieved a significant reduction in the number of accidents and is operating more safely as a result of this team effort. 


Responder Safety = Public Safety 

Up next time: “If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: A Report from the Police Workshops” 

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.