Officers Honored for Seat Belt Enforcement
By West Kentucky Star Staff
LEXINGTON - The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety honored law enforcement officers from 114 agencies across the Commonwealth on Wednesday for their efforts to increase the use of seat belts and child restraints in motor vehicles.

The Governor's Occupant Protection Enforcement Awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington. Awards were presented to officers with the most occupant protection citations in each agency and in each division. There are six divisions, broken down by number of officers within the agency, and a division for Kentucky State Police.

"These officers, their departments and agencies render a great service for public safety by enforcing our occupant protection laws," KOHS Executive Director Noelle Hunter said before presenting the awards. "Officers would rather write a seat belt or car restraint citation than make a death notification." 

All winners received a plaque, while the top three division winners were presented with the Highway Safety All-Star Award – an encased commemorative baseball bat from Louisville Slugger.

Following is a list of western Kentucky law enforcement officers that were honored:

Deputy Danny Williams-Calloway County Sheriff's Office (3rd Place, Division 2)
Trooper Nathan Clinkenbeard-Kentucky State Police, Post 1 (3rd Place, Division 6)
Patrolman Garrett C. Smith-Beaver Dam Police Department
Officer Joshua Burkeen-Calvert City Police Department
Patrol Deputy Jeff Goulet-Christian County Sheriff's Office
Sergeant Thomas J. Dickson, Sr.-Clinton Police Department
Deputy Jason Luedke-Daviess County Sheriff's Office
Sergeant Chad Moody-Franklin Police Department
Sergeant Richard A. Edwards-Graves County Sheriff's Office
Officer Jared Shehorn-Henderson Police Department
Sergeant Rayn Bailey-Hopkins County Sheriff's Office
Officer Jonathan Sholar-Hopkinsville Police Department
Officer II Mark Townsend-Kentucky State Police CVE Region 1
Trooper Justin D. Cornett-Kentucky State Police, Post 2
Officer Ron Latham-Madisonville Police Department
Officer David Townsend-Mayfield Police Department
Officer Justin Swope-Murray Police Department
Officer Shannon Puckett-Murray State University Police Department
Sergeant Jason Lee-Owensboro Police Department
Officer Melissa Dillon-Paducah Police Department

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts when worn correctly are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat occupants by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. Also according to NHTSA, properly installed child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars.  In light trucks, SUVs and minivans, properly restrained child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 58 percent for infants and 59 percent for toddlers.

"Kentucky will continue to raise awareness and increase enforcement of this life-saving measure," said Dr. Hunter. "Writing citations is not a strategy designed to increase arrests; in fact, it may result in decreased citation counts over time, which is our goal."

With the passage of the primary law, Kentucky's seat belt usage rate increased from 67 percent in 2006 to 86.8 percent in 2017. The national seat belt usage rate is 90.1 percent.

Published 05:00 PM, Sunday Aug. 12, 2018
Updated 10:59 AM, Thursday Aug. 16, 2018

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