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Gainesville Police win car at highway safety awards; Hall Sheriff's Office takes top honors

Beyond a handful of plaques, the Gainesville Police Department is coming back with a prize on four wheels from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Governor’s Challenge awards Wednesday in Savannah.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office placed first for agencies with 251-500 officers at the awards.

In the category for organizations with 101-250 officers, Gainesville Police finished second. The department also won the award for “Occupant Protection” and a grand prize Ford SUV Police Interceptor.

“We recognize law enforcement agencies whether they have (seven) officers or 700,” said Harris Blackwood, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety director, in a news release. “In addition to serving and protecting, the men and women of these agencies are taking active roles in improving the safety of the roads and highways in their communities. They work hard year-round, and we’re excited to once again celebrate their highway safety achievements.”

Gainesville Police Cpl. Jessica Van said the department and other agencies across the state submit a packet annually detailing their organizations’ traffic safety work, in areas including impaired driving, speeding and motorcycle safety.

“It just pretty much compiles what the traffic unit and department has done,” she said.

At the end, 10 departments drew a key for a shot at the car.

“When Sgt. (Chris) Jones went up with his key, it lit up the light bar,” Van said.

Van said the car was still in Savannah Wednesday but would likely make it to town today. It will likely stay with the traffic unit.

“It’s nice to see that the hard work does pay off,” she said.

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