HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) A local police chief gave his officers potentially life-saving gifts for Christmas following a deadly year for police officers nationwide.
At least 64 police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty in the U.S. in 2016, the most in five years according to the National Law Officers Memorial Fund.
Although Hewitt has never had a police officer shot or killed, the spike in police shootings nationwide is inspiring police Chief Jim Devlin to find more ways to not only keep his officers out of danger, but to keep them alive if they ever face it.
In the past, Devlin has used city dollars to gift his officers with a token of appreciation at Christmas…things like knives, cups, bags, etc. However, this year, he decided their presents would be tourniquets.
"The premise is still the same even from way back in the Civil War; what we've purchased are CAT tourniquets, the newest generation, they're able to be put on by an individual who actually has been shot,” said Devlin.
Each Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T) cost the city $29, a small price to pay for the lives of his 27 officers, the Chief said.
"I'd rather have them hold onto it and never use it, but at least I know they've got it,” said Devlin.
Officer Andrew Williams has been with the Hewitt Police Department for a year this month. Although the relatively new officer hasn’t needed to use his tourniquet yet, which he admits is a little uncomfortable on an officers’ already busy belt, he said it was well worth it to wear it.
"We have a lot of stuff on our belts already, so you have the 'do you put it behind you in your back and then it pokes you in the back as you're driving all day?’ ‘or do you stick it in your front and then it kinda pokes you in the stomach and the kidney areas all day?’ That's a little hassle, but I can take a little poke all day long for something that can potentially save my life,” said Williams. "You hope and you pray you never has to use it, but the truth is you never know what you're going to face each and every single day.”
In 2015, Hewitt was ranked the “9th Safest City” by SafeWise.com. Even so, Devlin said a police shooting can happen anywhere.
"Nobody would have thought last year that that would have taken place in Dallas, nobody would have thought the Harris County deputy while filling up his car was going to walk up behind him and shoot him. It's anywhere, it can happen anywhere,” said Devlin. “There's no place that's a safe haven from crime or from bad people that are intent on doing harm to other people."
According to the U.S. Army, controlling bleeding from extremities by properly administering methods used in what’s known as “self-aid/buddy-aid”, can reduce deaths by up to 15%. Devlin said his officers will be taking part in “self-aid/buddy-aid” training sessions over the next month where they’ll learn how to administer tourniquets on victims, suspects, and themselves.
"We really wouldn't have thought a decade ago about deploying these to officers, usually the idea was to wait for EMS to show up, but because of today's environment and things that are happening, we're training these officers to be able to take care of themselves."