PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Presque Isle Police Department has won first place in a statewide challenge for its public safety efforts in the past year.
City Manager Jim Bennett presented the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety Award during a Sept. 8 City Council meeting to the PIPD. The award recognized the efforts of Sgt. Joey Seeley and Officer Kevin Reed, who compiled a scrapbook explaining how the department enforced seat belt use and worked to prevent drunken driving and speeding. The book was entered in the Law Enforcement Challenge, winning first place in this year’s competition.
Bennett presented Chief Naldo Gagnon, Seeley and Reed with a plaque denoting the honor. The city manager said it was really the residents who were the winners.
“It’s an even better reward to the taxpayers, because the department received about $8,000 in equipment, including new radar and an in-car camera system,” Bennett said.
The scrapbook, according to Seeley, is an accumulation of what the department does throughout the year. Seeley said the challenge relies heavily on what type of news coverage a department receives as it works to promote safety.
“We’re judged on how we use the press. It’s a two-way street,” Seeley said. “We give news agencies the best data we can, working to provide information in the most efficient way possible. Then the media helps us get the message out.”
The scrapbook covers three areas: seat belt use, impaired driving and speeding.
“Statistically, statewide figures show aggressive traffic enforcement is directly related to safety on our streets,” he said. “We’d rather have people get rides home than be arrested.”
Seeley shared some recent traffic statistics that reflect how police visibility has factored into safety on the roads.
“Vehicular fatalities have been low, with a three-year period showing only four fatalities: two in 2007, one in 2008 and one in 2009. Motor vehicle crashes have also dropped from a high of 90 in 2007 to 67 in 2008 and 74 in 2009 — putting us at the three-year average of 74,” said Seeley. “This is directly related to our visibility and our traffic programs, such as seat belt checks and speed details.”
The top three in this year’s competition were: Presque Isle in first place; the Rockland Police Department in second; and the Sagadahoc Sheriff’s Department in third.
Twenty departments participated this year.
This marks the fourth year PIPD has participated in the competition and the fourth year it has finished in the top three.
“Much of it consists of news clippings from the Star-Herald that show what the PIPD does to promote traffic-related safety in the community. It’s a department effort. Kevin and I compiled the information,” said Seeley, noting that he collected the data while Reed created the graphics and handled layout.
“[The officers] did a great job,” Gagnon said. “This reflects the great work everyone’s done.”
“Presque Isle is considered a large department,” Seeley said.