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The Bedford Police Department has garnered national recognition for its efforts to promote traffic safety in the town.
On August 27 the Bedford PD was recognized at the 88th annual Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Williamsburg for its traffic safety programs.
This year the Bedford Police Department finished second in the Commonwealth and third in the nation in its category, for the Law Enforcement Challenge program which promotes professionalism in traffic safety enforcement and encourages agencies to share best practices and programs with each other.
Receiving recognition for the program has become an annual event for the department. Over the past five years, the BPD has placed first in its category three times and second on two occasions.
But this year is the first year that the department’s efforts have placed nationally.
The awards are based on entries prepared by the participating agencies that highlight their traffic safety education and enforcement activities in the past calendar year.
Judges award points to the agencies in the six areas that comprise a comprehensive traffic safety program: an agency’s policies and guidelines, training of officers, incentives and recognition, public information and education, enforcement, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the agency’s efforts.
Chief James Day praised the Department “for its great job in improving safety for all users of the highway and to Lieutenant Todd Foreman for administering the programs.”
“We were glad to get the third place recognition,” he said of the national honor.
But he’s not willing to settle for anything less than the best. “Next year we will try to get back into first place [at state].”
Day said the department’s officers work hard on traffic safety.
“We’ve put in place quite a few programs to improve traffic safety in the town,” he said.
And those efforts have paid off. Over the past six years, accidents in the town have been reduced by more than 30 percent.
In 2007 the accident totals in the town were more than 300; for the past several years the number of accidents have been under 200.
“Even though our boundaries are expanded our goal is still to maintain a safe environment not only for vehicle drivers but also for pedestrians and cyclists,” Day said.
The department has worked to improve child safety seat installations by having free demonstrations at various times in the town as well as providing a fit station here where residents can bring their vehicles to make sure their child safety seat is properly installed.
More often than not, Day said child safety seats are installed improperly.
The Bedford Police Department also holds its annual Safety Day, set this year for Oct. 10. from 6-9 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market. The department also holds traffic checkpoints. “They’re a good way to make sure drivers are not intoxicated and are properly licensed,” he said.
Often the checkpoints lead to arrests.
The department also advertises at least two RADAR locations every week, telling residents where officers are going to run RADAR. Speed trailers are put out.
“Our goal is not to write tickets; our goal is to get people to slow down and obey the speed limits. Speed is still the number one reason people have accidents,” Day said.
Ultimately, he added, the goal is to increase safety and reduce accidents, injuries or deaths.