FORT LEE, Va. (July 7, 2011) -- The department earned first place in the 2010 National Law Enforcement Challenge for having the "best traffic safety programs in the nation," according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The award will be presented to Fort Lee Oct. 22 at the 118th annual IACP Conference and Exposition in Chicago.

For the third year in a row, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police also awarded first place to the Fort Lee Police during the 2010 Virginia Law Enforcement Challenge for the best traffic safety programs in the state in the military category. They will receive the award for that achievement during the VACP's 86th Annual Training Conference to be held Sept. 25-28 in Norfolk.

In an award package, the Fort Lee Police reported increased enforcement of seat belt, child seat, speeding and impaired driving regulations with an increase of citations in each category from the previous year.

It also demonstrated an increase in safety belt usage from 81.2 percent at the beginning of the year to 84 percent at the end of 2010.

Furthermore, the community experienced fewer motor vehicle accidents and fewer injuries as a result of crashes due to the awareness efforts, as reported in the package.

The National Law Enforcement Challenge provides law enforcement agencies with an opportunity to make a significant difference in the communities they serve, said Police Lt. Rico Williams, Fort Lee Police Operations. The Challenge is a friendly competition between similar sizes and types of law enforcement agencies that recognizes and rewards the best overall traffic safety programs in the United States.

"The program is designed to strengthen and support traffic enforcement nationwide and targets three major traffic safety priorities: occupant protection, impaired driving and speeding," said Williams. "Participating agencies are asked to provide documentation on their agency's efforts and effectiveness in areas of officer training, public information and enforcement to reduce crashes and injuries."

The VACP Law Enforcement Challenge program offers awards based on entries prepared by the participating agencies that highlight their traffic safety education and enforcement activities in the past calendar year, said Williams.

"The Law Enforcement Challenge program promotes professionalism in traffic safety enforcement and encourages agencies to share best practices and programs with each other," he said. "Judges award points to the agencies in the six areas that comprise a comprehensive traffic safety program: an agency's policies and guidelines, training of officers, incentives and recognition, public information and education, enforcement, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the agency's efforts."