The Portsmouth Police Department and Police Chief Robert Ware were among 14 police departments last week to receive the American Automobile Association’s East Central “Platinum” safety awards for what was described as their outstanding efforts to increase road safety for all motorists.
AAA spokeswoman Lynda Lambert said platinum winners needed to submit a proposal to address a specific safety or traffic problem in their jurisdiction. Local officials must track the success of their initiative and report it to AAA.
On Monday, Ware stated the city takes part in several safety programs, including well-known campaigns such as “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket.”
But Ware seemed to feel it was his department’s T-shirt campaign which won Portsmouth Police the AAA Platinum Safety Award. Throughout the years, at various community events, police have been handing out T-shirts with messages such as “don’t text and drive,” “wear your seatbelt” and “don’t press your luck.”
Ware believes the effort started at River Days about two years ago.
“We’re trying to take on enforcement approach as well as an education approach,” Ware said.
As he mentioned the issue several times, Ware seems particularly keyed in on trying to prevent texting and driving. He said the chances of having an accident increase by at least 23 percent when you try to text and drive. Ware added young people, more susceptible to traffic accidents to begin with, are also more prone to text and drive at the same time. He believes the T-shirts are good way to reach younger drivers and spread safety messages.
In a press release, AAA officials said the Platinum awards were given to “Commendable Leaders” for their safety efforts and enforcement activities geared towards making communities safer.
Besides Portsmouth, the Ohio recipients of the Platinum awards were police departments in: Chillicothe, Hillsboro, Piketon, Waverly and Wellston. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office also was given the award; and Ohio Highway Patrol Posts in Chillicothe, Gallipolis, Georgetown, Ironton, Jackson, Portsmouth and Wilmington.
Gold awards, the second highest recognition to be given, were awarded to police departments in Gallipolis, Greenfield, Ironton, Leesburg, and New Boston; and the Ross County Sheriff’s Office.
Silver awards were given to the Proctorville Police Department and the University of Rio Grande Campus Police.
AAA East Central conducts a variety of free highway safety programs throughout Ohio focusing on all age groups. The club also partners with law enforcement and safety agencies on initiatives to improve the safety of the community and local highways.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.