TINLEY PARK – Three local police departments were recognized Wednesday as some of the best in the state for their efforts to increase traffic safety.
The Elwood Police Department took first place for the municipal agency with less than 10 officers in the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge, and Shorewood police tied with Chatham for the best agency with less than 25.
The Grundy County Sheriff’s Office police also won in its division and received the Judges Award for the best overall application.
“I’d agree that traffic enforcement probably has the biggest effect on people who live in or pass through Grundy County. We don’t have a lot of violent crime, but we’ve got two interstates and two highways used by almost everyone,” Sheriff Kevin Callahan said.
Shorewood Chief Aaron Klima said traffic enforcement will always be a priority.
“You can drive as well as you possibly can but some wayward motorist runs into you,” he said.
Elwood Chief Fred Hayes said fatal and serious crashes have a domino effect of cost to those involved, their families, their finances and the time police have to spend investigating them.
According to the National Transportation Highway Safety Authority, there were about 1,000 fatal crashes in Illinois in 2015 – an 8 percent increase from 2014. Distracted driving, intoxicated driving and speeding are the leading crash factors and remain the focus of enforcement efforts.
Besides an award plaque, Elwood and Grundy sheriff’s police received a portable alcohol-measuring device officers can use on a roadside traffic stop.
“These can provide an officer with probable cause to bring a driver who is suspected of being intoxicated back to the station to take a breath test,” Hayes said.
Breath tests are not challenged in court as much as field sobriety tests.
Shorewood police received a laser radar that can be used to measure a vehicle’s speed.
“It targets an individual car more precisely than the radar that sends out a spectrum where someone will argue it’s another vehicle that was speeding,” Klima said.