Officers honored for seat belt enforcement efforts
Two Bemidji police officers were recognized Monday at the City Council meeting for their excellence in seat belt enforcement. Bemidji Director of Public Safety Bruce Preece presented officers Mike Mastin and Paul Parthun with certificates from th...
Two Bemidji police officers were recognized Monday at the City Council meeting for their excellence in seat belt enforcement.
Bemidji Director of Public Safety Bruce Preece presented officers Mike Mastin and Paul Parthun with certificates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration honoring them for their commitment to enforcing seat belt laws.
"Both of them are very aggressive, very good in their work," Preece said. "Not only do they do a good job, they also represent our department in a very positive way."
Over a two-week period from May 24 to June 5, 2005, the NHTSA sponsored a nationwide seat belt enforcement crackdown. The Bemidji Police Department was one of several agencies in the country that received a grant from the NHTSA to boost seat belt enforcement during the campaign.
"The grant allowed us to provide overtime hours for our officers so they could come in on their time off during that period from May 24 to June 5," said Parthun, who was instrumental in completing the paperwork associated with the grant application.
As a result of the crackdown, Mastin and Parthun were among the officers in the region who recorded the highest number of citations for seat belt infractions. Mastin and Parthun issued 21 and 19 citations, respectively, during the two-week campaign. In total, officers with the Bemidji Police Department issued 85 citations during that period.
In Minnesota, state law requires that all individuals in the front seat of a vehicle wear a seat belt and that children between the ages of 4 and 10 wear a seat belt when sitting in the back seat.
Preece said the Bemidji Police Department has received other seat belt enforcement awards in the past. Two years ago, the department received radar equipment as a reward for its work in that area.
"I'm proud to say we typically excel in this area," he told the council.
"We don't take seat belt enforcement lightly," he continued. "Quite frankly, it has quite an effect on the accident rate in the state of Minnesota."
Preece listed statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that determined that if everyone in Minnesota complied with seat belt laws, the fatality rate could be reduced by 50 percent in head-on collisions and 75 percent in vehicle rollovers. Further, he said total compliance with seat belt laws would save the state $113 million a year in medical expenses.
"It's proven that head injuries or major trauma injuries that result from car accidents where people are not wearing seat belts could be avoided if people were wearing them," he said.
Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann praised the officers during the awards presentation at Monday's meeting.
"You do such a nice job all around," he said, adding that their awards help present the community in a positive light. "Thank you very much for your diligence and your efforts."