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Back to Archives | Back to April 2006 Contents 

Highway Safety Initiatives

IACP Law Enforcement Challenge Award Deadline Nears

By Joel Bolton, Lieutenant, Lake Charles, Louisiana, Police Department

ith only a few weeks remaining before the May deadline for entries in the IACPs National Law Enforcement Challenge Award program, agencies nationwide are busy documenting their traffic safety activities during 2005. Hundreds of police agencies, sheriffs departments, and state police organizations accept the challenge every year. They know they have saved lives and prevented injuries in the communities they serve by educating the public and enforcing the law.

The National Law Enforcement Challenge is a fun way for agencies to showcase their work in the areas of safety belt promotion, impaired driving prevention, and speed deterrence while competing against agencies of similar size and type. Successful programs in your jurisdiction will likely work in another, and the award competition offers a way to communicate your ideas for preventing crashes and saving lives to agencies around the United States. This is one competition that produces only winners.

There is still time for you to download the application form from (, provide the information required, and drop it in the mail for review by the IACP's panel of judges. You could win one of the great prizes provided by the challenge sponsors, garner national recognition for your agency, and share your creative ideas with your fellow law enforcement leaders to help them improve traffic safety in their communities.

Completing the application process is essentially performing an easy self-evaluation of your traffic safety activities. The performance areas upon which the applications are judged are the five cornerstones of successful traffic safety programs. The application asks questions about your policy and the enforcement guidance you provide your officers; the traffic safety training your personnel completed in 2005; how you worked to educate and inform the public about traffic safety issues; your agency’s traffic enforcement activity; and the measured success you experienced in increasing safety belt use, deterring impaired driving, and reducing the death and injury toll from speed-related crashes.

Those five areas are assigned a weighted number of points that a panel of three judges will use as they review the submitted applications. Judges are selected by IACP based on their program knowledge and traffic safety expertise. They represent law enforcement practitioners, national organizations with an interest in traffic safety, and corporate partners.

The judges will carefully review each application to recognize the best overall traffic safety program in each of the more than 20 categories, which are based on agency size (number of sworn personnel) and type (municipal police, sheriffs department, and state police and highway patrol) categories. There are also special awards presented for the best work done by an agency in specific program areas such as occupant protection, impaired driving, speed awareness, child passenger safety, and underage drinking prevention. In addition, the best first-time entry in the challenge will take home the rookie of the year award.

There are several things you can do to increase your chances of winning, while providing easy access to the information the judges need to compare your entry to another agency's. Applications are typically assembled in a three-ring binder with tabs for each of the topic areas covered on the application (policy and guidelines; training of officers; incentives and recognition; public information and education; and enforcement activity).

Policy: Include the relevant wording from your policy manual that shows your requirements for safety belt use by officers. Judges will also be looking for policy statements or guidelines that demonstrate that you have communicated to your officers that enforcement of safety belt, child restraint, speed, and impaired driving laws is an important part of their daily routine. These statements help officers understand they are the front line in the effort to save lives on our streets and highways, and their enforcement work makes a difference.

Training: Provide numbers and percentages of sworn officers who have received traffic safety training. Documentation you elect to provide for this section should be relevant to the topic areas.

Incentives and Recognition: Describe your efforts to recognize officers who have excelled at traffic enforcement and education. Providing incentives for outstanding work related to traffic safety inspires others in your department to increase their performance level. Scan press clippings and photos of award events. Also include documentation of your agency's participation in the national campaigns and mobilizations.

Public Information: Give the judges a good idea of the work you did to educate the public on traffic safety issues. Scan in examples of press clippings and photos from events in your community to illustrate your narrative.

Enforcement: Select any three months datat hey don't need to be consecutive months to document in this section, which covers the one thing we can do that no other traffic safety advocate can: enforce the law.

Effectiveness: Your self-evaluation would not be complete if you didn't review the outcomes of your efforts. Supply evidence that you helped increase safety belt use in your community or reduce the proportion of crashes that were associated with speed and alcohol. Document the change from 2004 to 2005 in total crashes and injury crashes. ■

More tips on completing the application can be found on the IACP National Law Enforcement Challenge Web site. For more information, call IACP National Law Enforcement Challenge coordinator Bob Wall at 703-304-9771, or send an e-mail message to him (



From The Police Chief, vol. 73, no. 4, April 2006. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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