By Megan Locke, The Fort Campbell Courier staff September 16, 2011
FORT CAMPBELL, KY, Sept. 16, 2011--Fort Campbell police are No. 1 in Tennessee for traffic safety in the Military Police Category, and the installation boasts the overall Best Motorcycle Safety Program in the state.
Fort Campbell won first place in both categories in the 2011 Law Enforcement Challenge awards. The police department consistently wins in this competition year after year.
Many of the MP Soldiers that work in the traffic section receive extensive and specialized training to do their jobs, and typically only work in the section for a few years before returning to combat. Unlike other law enforcement agencies where the same people do the same job for many years, this recognition shows the quality of the police department on post.
"All their training and expertise definitely shows," said 1st Lt. Carlos Reyes, 163rd MP Detachment XO.
The competition evaluates law enforcement agencies in categories ranging from motorcycle and vehicle safety, to seat belts and child restraints. There's more to the judging than just those categories, however.
"Obviously, the police station [is evaluated] itself as a whole -- how we conduct ourselves, how everything's conducted on the professional level," said Traffic NCOIC Staff Sgt. Leon Coleman, 163rd MP, who was in charge of this year's award submissions.
An extensive packet is submitted each year, which took Coleman more than three months to assemble, and includes photos and summaries about the many duties and programs used by Fort Campbell's Military Police.
"The emphasis by leaders in training the Military Police to conduct efficient and effective traffic safety education and enforcement has greatly improved overall traffic safety within the Fort Campbell community," Fort Campbell Police Chief Keith Shumate said.
It's not just those serving in the traffic section that make the recognition possible, but all those in the 716th MP Battalion, as well as the other brigade MPs across post.
"Because without them, we wouldn't be able to win this award at all," Coleman said. "That shows that no matter what level MP you're at, there's that sense of pride and integrity for the job we do."
Motorcycle safety involves more than MP leadership and involves a systematic effort across post to enforce regulations and teach both Soldiers and civilians techniques to stay safe on the road, whether on post or off.
"For the motorcycle safety, that's an installation-wide thing," Coleman said. "The Safety Office spearheads it. The division leadership and the leaders all the way down to the company level instill the regulations that we have out there, and our job as MPs is just to enforce it."
"The Installation Safety Office and every leader on the installation helped us earn this award," Shumate added. "The reason this award is so special to us is, the Motorcycle Safety Award is presented to the best program out of all agencies competing in the challenge, regardless of their category."
"The emphasis that has been placed on motorcycle safety training by the command and the community has greatly reduced our number of serious motorcycle accidents involving our Soldiers," Shumate said.
The Law Enforcement Challenge Awards are presented by the Tennessee Department of Transportation Governor's Highway Safety Office, and Fort Campbell competed against every other such organization in the state, from small sheriff's departments to departments located in larger cities.
The awards recognize the best traffic safety programs throughout the state as determined by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
The recognition brings a sense of accomplishment, because it shows the installation meets or exceeds the performance of their civilian counterparts in other communities throughout the state and region.
"The same crimes happen on a military installation that happen outside the gate, so we have to be trained the same," Coleman said. "We have to work side-by-side.
"If there's a bank robbery that happens in Oak Grove, and that Soldier or that civilian comes through that gate, it's now Fort Campbell's problem. So we have to be trained at the same level to be able to alleviate that situation."
While Fort Campbell is technically in Kentucky, Tennessee allows them to participate in the competition because of its proximity and presence as a military installation on the state line.
"We know that Fort Campbell, the majority of the land is in Tennessee, and they consider us to be a part of their state as well," Coleman said. "I want to thank the Governor's Highway Safety office for allowing us to take part in this."
The award pales in comparison to the ability to help the Fort Campbell community each day, and Coleman encourages the public to take these recognitions as a sign of trust and respectability.
"Most people don't want to see the MPs until something gets broken or something happens," he said.
"We don't want it to be like that … We're friendly; we talk. If you have a question, by all means stop us."