Recognized for taking traffic stops seriously and protecting the community from reckless drivers, Park Ridge earned third place in its category in this year's Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge.
The award, presented at a luncheon in Tinley Park in August, also nabbed the department a $1,400 LIDAR (radar) unit.
Park Ridge Chief of Police Lou Jogmen said the department continually strives to protect citizens and roadways.
"It reaffirms to us that we are heading in the right direction with traffic safety and ensuring we are providing the best traffic safety service to our community, making our roadways safer," Jogmen said.
The voluntary "friendly competition," sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety, is coordinated by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and is open to all law enforcement agencies. Park Ridge has participated since 2005.
A panel of 12 judges is made up of law enforcement agency officers from around the state as well as a representative from Northwestern University Center for Public Safety and AAA. Applications are grouped by agency type and number of sworn police officers. Park Ridge has 54.
This year, there were about 60 applicants statewide. Entries are judged on the basis of policies, training, public information/education, enforcement activity and effectiveness in the areas of occupant protection/safety belt use, impaired driving and speed control. Winners are selected based on how well they combine public information and enforcement to reduce crashes and injuries.
"The goal (of the competition) is to challenge agencies to address highway safety to reduce traffic crashes in their community and to reduce death and injuries related to those crashes," said Buffalo Grove Chief of Police Steven Casstevens, who, along with former Schaumburg Police Chief Paul Rizzo, created the traffic challenge about 15 years ago. "(The competition) not only looks at what they are doing, but more importantly, what they are not doing in their communities."
Casstevens said the efforts are working, pointing to the fact that the number of traffic fatalities has remained below 1,000 since 1924.
"That didn't happen because somebody took out a banner or did a TV commercial. It happened because each of these agencies is taking a fresh look at how they address traffic safety and traffic crashes and driving habits," Casstevens said.
In the same municipal category of 51 to 65 sworn police officers, Carol Stream took first place and Wheeling took second place.