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Gainesville police, Hall sheriff’s office honored at state highway safety awards

Gainesville Police took first place for departments its size at the Governor’s Challenge Awards, Wednesday, Sept. 19, in Macon, while Hall County Sheriff’s Office placed second in its division.

The awards were hosted by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and recognized the work by law enforcement in their approaches to roadway safety.

“With an agency of our size, it’s always difficult to compete because we do compete against a lot of great agencies. To come away with first place is pretty remarkable,” Gainesville Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said.

Gainesville Police came away with first place for departments with 101 to 250 officers over the departments in Alpharetta and Valdosta, while the Hall County Sheriff’s Office took second for agencies composed of 251 to 500 officers. The sheriff’s office finished ahead of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office but behind the Columbus Police Department.

“The men and women of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office Uniform Patrol Division work hard on a daily basis to promote highway safety through numerous enforcement, awareness and education initiatives in our community. I’m particularly thrilled that state officials have recognized them with a second-place finish in the Governor’s Challenge Awards this week,” Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said in a statement.

Couch noted the sheriff’s office is on the smaller side compared to the others in its division.

“With a first place in 2017 and this year’s second (place), I believe we’re on the right track when it comes to bettering the community through the continued push for improved safety on our roads,” he said. 

In addition to the first-place hardware, Gainesville Police also took home the “Technology Award.”

The highway safety office scores the departments after each agency submits an application with its “overall traffic safety efforts in the areas of impaired driving, occupant protection, speeding, distracted driving and any other local traffic safety issues,” according to its website.

The category breakdown from there includes policy, training, incentives and recognition, public information and education, enforcement, effectiveness and quality of application.

“In the submission packet, we include a number of different things, everything from the use of the mobile data terminals to the creative and innovative use of social media to educate the public,” Holbrook said, adding a mention of the new electronic message boards that have been seen recently around town.

Holbrook said one of Chief Carol Martin’s goals over the past two years has been reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities in the city. Some of the high-crash corridors targeted by the department include roads surrounding E.E. Butler Parkway and Dawsonville Highway.

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