SEBRING — Officer Kyler Hodge proudly accepted the Florida Law Enforcement Liaison Traffic Safety Challenge award on behalf of the Sebring Police Department on Friday, July 12 at a conference in Orlando.

The traffic challenge awards are a way to recognize police departments, universities, Florida Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies for their efforts in reducing traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities.

The state’s Law Enforcement Liaison program is a grant-funded program sponsored by the Florida Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The LEL program educates and provides training for law enforcement on different aspects of traffic safety. The organizations start campaigns like Click It or Ticket.

District 1 Liaison Tom Arsenault said 234 departments participated in the challenge.

Sebring Cmdr. Curtis Hart said they competed with several other law enforcement agencies. Sebring is in District 1, which also had Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Manatee, Polk and Sarasota counties.

“The department placed second in Florida against departments our size,” Hart said. “It’s about reducing the number of traffic crashes through traffic enforcement initiatives. Those initiatives include campaigns such as Drive Sober or get Pulled Over, Click it or Ticket, and Operation Southern Shield.”

“Sebring participated in all challenges: 2017 Traffic Safety Challenge, 2018 Click it Or Ticket, 2018 Labor Day Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over (DSGPO), 2018 Holiday DSGPO,” Arsenault said.

Operation Southern Shield runs from July 15-21. It is a high profile, speeding awareness initiative.

“A department has to have officers that are motivated and proactive in performing traffic stops,” Hart said. “No one likes to get a ticket, but we are trying to make sure everyone is safe.”

Some of what was judged in the challenge included comparing the 2017 crash information to 2018. The numbers for Sebring Police are provided by the Florida Integrated Report Exchange System.

• Total crashes in 2017: 321

• Total crashes for 2018: 239

• Total crashes with serious injuries in 2017: 3

• Total crashes with serious injury in 2018: 5

• Crash fatalities for 2017: 3

• Total fatalities in 2018: 1

• Crashes with impairment in 2017: 16

• Crashes with impairment in 2018: 12

• Motorcycle crashes in 2017: 11

• Motorcycle crashes in 2018: 5

• Pedestrian or bike-related crashes in 2017: 16

• Pedestrian or bike-related crashes in 2018: 8

• Speed-related crashes in 2017: 8

• Speed-related crashes in 2018: 3

“The residents of Sebring should be very proud of this prestigious accomplishment,” Arsenault said. “To have so many reductions in the number of crashes shows that SPD is passionate about the four E’s of Traffic Safety: Education, Engineering, Enforcement and Emergency Services.

“I would like to thank Cmdr. Curtis Hart and all the officers of SPD for their efforts in making the Florida Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Challenge and all the challenges I mentioned a success” Arsenault said.

“Their efforts and leadership in traffic safety help make Sebring a safer community.”

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