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Lodi Police Department wins California Highway Patrol award for traffic safety

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Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:06 am, Tue Jun 14, 2011.

Efforts by the Lodi Police Department to clamp down on intoxicated, speeding and unlicensed drivers have been noticed by the California Highway Patrol.

The department earned first place in the CHP’s California Law Enforcement Challenge, a competition designed to reward agencies for making traffic safety a priority. It is the department’s first time participating in the event.

The LPD was required to enter the competition because it is a stipulation of receiving grant money from the California Office of Traffic Safety, said Sgt. Chris Jacobson, of the Lodi Police Department.

“We had to do it, but we just took it seriously and filled it out,” Jacobson said. “Filling it out showed we did quite a bit of stuff in the area of traffic safety for the year.”

Lodi squared off against six other departments of similar size (71 to 85 officers) across the state and were rated by a panel of judges handpicked by the CHP. Judges considered factors beyond just the total of tickets written, Jacobson said. Evaluators also weighed how the department communicated with the press and how it reached out to citizens, he said.

Some of the efforts that put the department over the top, Jacobson said, are not only the DUI/driver’s license checkpoints, saturation patrols and participation in the statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt safety campaign, but also Every 15 Minutes (a high school event to raise awareness on drunk driving) and the Turkey Trot — a gift certificate awarded to safe drivers before Thanksgiving.

The CHP’s award recognizes not only the traffic division, but the entire department, Jacobson said.

“We couldn’t do the DUI checkpoints without the cadets, Partners and clerical staff,” Jacobson said. “It’s a team effort.”

The $125,000 OTS grant the department received expires in September, but Jacobson is going to apply for another, he said.

The grant has not only enabled the department to conduct 24 saturation patrols and eight DUI checkpoints, it has also enabled the police to purchase a piece of surveyor’s equipment for investigating accident scenes.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

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