On Jan. 13, 2014, the New Kent Sheriff's Office was recognized by Dana Schrad, Executive Director of Chiefs of Police Association, for winning first in both the state and national Law Enforcement Challenge.

NEW KENT – The New Kent Sheriff's Office has been nationally recognized for its traffic safety programs.

The sheriff's office was recently rewarded first place in the Virginia Law Enforcement Challenge and the National Law Enforcement Challenge, which judges similarly sized agencies.

Dana Schrad, Executive Director of Virginia Chiefs of Police presented the sheriff's office with their awards on Jan. 13.

According to Schrad, the sheriff's office's deputies are all trained in occupant protection, impaired driving, and speed, as well as "make an exemplary effort with their public information and education activities, as well as their enforcement measures."

"During 2012, New Kent County deputies actually taught segments of the driver education classes at New Kent High School...They've taught the high school students the importance of using occupant protection devices, they've taught them the traffic laws regarding speeding and reckless driving, and also the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, with a demonstration using the fatal vision goggles to simulate driving while inebriated," Schrad said.

"The New Kent County Sheriff's Office has been instrumental in developing a mandatory seatbelt policy at the local high school, which has resulted in a 98 percent compliance rate," she added.

"This program has been a model program, not only across Virginia, but in other states across the country. I have actually talked about this program with other states on numerous occasions."

In 2012, the sheriff's office took its child safety seat trailer to nine jurisdictions to perform checks.

The New Kent Sheriff's Office station is a permanent fitting station for parents and caregivers.

Deputies also distributed 38 seats to those in need and checked and installed 345 child safety seats checks.

The New Kent Sheriff's Office worked 2,875 hours of overtime on traffic enforcement, including speed, occupant protection, and impaired driving.

There were no fatal crashes on county roads in 2012 and the alcohol-related crashes decreased from 28 to 19 from 2011-2012. Speed-related crashes were also reduced from 117 to 85 from 2011-2012.

"For 2012, the county-wide seatbelt usage rate was 86.5 percent, while the statewide average was 78.4. That's something the Virginia Highway Safety Office is very envious of," Schrad said. "If we had statistics across Virginia comparable to what we have in New Kent County, Virginia would be an even safer place to live than it already is."

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.