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Gainesville Police earn top award in Governor's Challenge
Department receives Governor's Cup in 'Super Bowl of law enforcement'
Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, presents Gainesville Police Chief Brian Kelly with the award for winning top honors in the Governor’s Challenge.

The Gainesville Police Department received top honors Friday at the Governor’s Challenge Awards in Macon.

Law enforcement agencies statewide apply for the awards, hosted by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, and are judged on policy/guidelines, officer training, public information and education, and enforcement activity and effectiveness. Judges hail from all over the country and include law enforcement officers and civilians.

Gainesville was awarded the Governor’s Cup, which is given to the agency, regardless of size, that scored highest overall of all the applicants.

Kevin Holbrook, public information officer for the department, called the award “the Super Bowl of law enforcement.”

“It’s always good to see your hard work paying off and that’s how the officers see it,” he said. “They’ve worked hard all year long and then to be recognized as the best of the best throughout the state, they’re just excited about that.”

The department brought home $12,000 in cash awards.

“That money will go back into the traffic safety program,” Holbrook said. “We feel that it will be best utilized as far as for the department and the community.”

The department also won first place in its category of 51-100 officers and was awarded for its education programs on speed awareness and bicycle/pedestrian safety.

“I am extremely proud of all of our officers for their hard work and dedication to traffic safety,” Chief of Police Brian Kelly said. “... We will continue in our efforts to educate the public in traffic safety and to coordinate with other entities to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our community safe for our motorists and pedestrians.”

Hall County Sheriff’s Office placed second in its category of 251-500 officers, with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office taking first place. The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office placed first in the 26-50 officer category. In specialty awards, Forsyth County won for motorcycle safety

“It’s hard to express how important the men and women of Georgia law enforcement are to us,” said Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “But the Governor’s Challenge gives us an opportunity to show these police officers, deputies and state troopers how much we appreciate their daily efforts to keep our roads safe.