MOUNT CARMEL — For the Mount Carmel Police Department, it’s the extra work above and beyond the call of duty that has been recognized at the state and national level in recent years.
For the second time in three years, the MCPD has brought home top honors in the Governor’s Highway Safety Office “Chiefs’ Challenge” competition at the state and national level.
Earlier this month, MCPD Chief Jeff Jackson and Assistant Chief Mike Campbell traveled to Nashville to participate in the Governor’s Highway Safety Office awards banquet.
Not only did the Mount Carmel department receive the top award for Tennessee departments with 10 officers or fewer, it received the top state award for all Tennessee departments. And it was announced at the GHSO ceremony that the MCPD also received the top award nationally for departments with 10 or fewer officers which is presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
The awards recognize achievements for the calendar year 2006. In 2005, the MCPD swept every state and national category in the Chief’s Challenge competition for the 2004 calendar year as well, including the number one overall department in the nation.
A total of 69 Tennessee police departments entered the competition. The Kingsport Police Department received the top state award for departments with 100 to 250 officers.
The Chief’s Challenge competition judges departments on the traffic safety programs they coordinate in their jurisdiction and their attempts to make roadways safer.
Mount Carmel, for example, has started several programs in recent years.
“Traffic safety is more than just making traffic stops and writing citations,” Jackson said. “It has to do with trying to modify the behavior of the motoring public. We do that through education along with enforcement.”
A good example of a MCPD program is the “Fatal Vision” program which involves a gold cart and a pair of goggles which simulate what a person’s vision is like at a blood alcohol of about 0.25 percent — or three times the legal limit.
The department takes the Fatal Vision program to schools and youth groups not just in Hawkins County but throughout the region.
Another program recently begun by the MCPD is the “Spirits” program in which store clerks at businesses which sell alcoholic beverages take classes to recognize who they shouldn’t be selling alcohol to, whether it be minors or people already under the influence.
Another MCPD program is the child safety seat checkpoint program in which certified officers inspect child safety seats and teach parents how to properly use the seats. If a seat is found to be defective or recalled, the MCPD gives the motorist a free child seat.
And the MCPD has been a strong advocate of GHSO statewide programs including the “Click-it or Ticket” program which promotes seat belt use.
The judges also looked at the MCPD’s attempts to study traffic flow patterns and make modifications to improve traffic safety.
Jackson said that traffic safety programs can pay off in more ways than just safer roadways.
“We’ve found a correlation between traffic enforcement and our property crime,” Jackson said. “When you do stringent traffic enforcement, most of the time the bad guys don’t want to be around where you’re making traffic stops, so you do enjoy a lower property crime rate.”