Luck of the draw provides officers with new tool for traffic safety
By Kim Swindell Wood
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012 6:50 AM CDT
Sparta Police Department is the proud recipient of a Chevy Tahoe that comes fully equipped with all the necessities to help officers perform their duties while they protect the residents of the city.
During the Sept. 20, 2012, meeting of Sparta Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Clint Shrum, of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, addressed the board.
“It’s a pretty special day for us and Sparta Police Department as well,” Shrum said. “Back in the fall of last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Governor’s Highway Safety Office started a program called “More Cops, More Stops” that filtered down into Tennessee, which resulted in a program we ran called “COMET,” which deals with combined messaging for highway traffic safety.”
Shrum said COMET was a combination of the “Booze It or Lose It” and “Click It or Ticket” traffic safety campaigns. The messages of these programs were combined, and a campaign was begun to decrease traffic crashes and fatalities.
“There really wasn’t any grant money to give out to agencies for participation, “Shrum said. “They participated on a volunteer basis. The only incentive was that at the end of this campaign, those agencies who participated who had a decrease in one of these categories would qualify to win a 2012 Chevy Tahoe police-package vehicle.”
Shrum said only three of these specially-equipped Tahoes were given away in Tennessee - one each in west, middle and east Tennessee. Each Tahoe is valued at $50,000.
Sparta Police Department qualified because of the decrease in crashes during the designated timeframe, 2010-2011. The drawing was Sept. 7. According to Shrum, 57 agencies in this area qualified for the Tahoe.
The names of the 57 agencies were all placed into a bowl. Ten names were drawn from that bowl. Ten people, one representing each department, then drew a key from another bowl. Each individual then began placing his/her key into a box that would activate the blue lights on the Tahoe if it was the correct key.
Lt. Robert Hall, of Sparta Police Department, who was seventh in line to place his key in the box, apparently had the magic touch.
“Sparta Police Department has been a great partner with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office,” Shrum said. “Anytime you can decrease crashes in your community, you have done a great task. This wasn’t a ticket-writing campaign. This was about making decreases. The thing about Sparta Police Department is they were persistent. They just kept doing what was working.”
Sparta Police Chief Jeff Guth said the Governor’s Highway Safety Office “is vital in getting us what we need.”
According to Guth, the police department receives a $5,000 grant each year that helps with the purchase of equipment.
“We work in partnership with them,” Guth said. “And as is evident by the roadblock we worked with them at the end of August, there were 40 officers that showed up. And that’s the commitment that is in this area. We’re committed to reducing those fatalities and reducing those crashes.
Guth said the Tahoe will not be an administrative vehicle, but will be used by the entire department.