BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Bedford Police have been awarded first place in the New York Law Enforcement Challenge.
The award, given to the department in Albany on April 19, is to recognize the department with the most outstanding performance in the state in the area of traffic safety.
The Bedford Police Department drew up a 72-page document that detailed their 2011 traffic safety program, highlighting efforts and effectiveness in the areas of personnel training, public education and enforcement.
“The application process required a self-assessment in which we identified our strengths as well as areas that need improvement," said Bedford Police Chief William Hayes in a press release. "The outcome for the community is continuous improvement in keeping the public safe on our roadways.”
The department competed against agencies that were in the size category of 20 to 45 sworn officers, according to Sgt. Melvin Padilla, who led the preparation of the competition form.
Padilla, 37, was named the department’s first traffic safety coordinator in 2011. Patrolling and community input are instrumental when it comes to ensuring traffic safety, he said.
“That’s one way we coordinate our efforts, with what the officers on the road are witnessing and what the citizens are the complaining about,” said Padilla.
Padilla noted that Route 35 has a high volume of commuter traffic, and police seem to see a lot of speeding there. The posted speeds on the three-lane road are of the higher in town, from 40 to 55 mph, and they are often violated.
“A lot of times people are in a rush to get to 22 and 684,” Padilla said.
Another traffic safety trend Padilla mentioned is an 105 percent increase in the number of DWI arrests and violations over the last three years. But this jump may be due to Bedford Police's focus on more patrols and more extensive officer training, rather than to a higher number of DWIs.
Bedford will now automatically be entered in to the national Law Enforcement Challenge competition, which will be judged later on this year.