By Andrea Sutherland, Fort CarsonAugust 2, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. (Aug. 2, 2012) -- The men and women who make up the traffic section at Fort Carson aren't used to receiving praise or awards. They're more accustomed to being challenged by motorists facing traffic violations on post.
"We joke that we usually meet people on their worst day," said Capt. James Bloom, commander, 148th Military Police Detachment, 759th MP Battalion.
But the long overdue recognition for the 10 military police and four Department of the Army Civilian Police who work for the traffic section came July 23, when they were named the top military traffic safety program at the 2011 International Association of Chiefs of Police, or IACP, National Law Enforcement Challenge.
The section beat four other installations that were nominated for the award.
"We've submitted in years past but always came up short," said Lt. Thomas J. Prayne, chief, traffic investigations section, Provost Marshal Office, Directorate of Emergency Services.
"We felt like we had a really good chance of winning this year," said Staff Sgt. Jason Murray, noncommissioned officer in charge. "We were optimistic that we would place, but we didn't expect first. It is a great honor. It recognizes that we are busting our butts to make sure everyone is safe out there on the road."
Murray said the relationship Soldiers have with Prayne and their other civilian counterparts have contributed to the unit's success.
"We have a really good relationship with the civilians," he said. "They are subject matter experts because they've been here for years."
"With the Soldiers rotating every two years or so, we have had a lot of changes in personnel. Civilians help with consistency," Prayne said.
To help maintain stability, MPs and the civilian police in the traffic section undergo extensive training.
"We do an additional six weeks of training, plus military training," Murray said. "We don't just do traffic accidents. We provide support for all of the motorcades, events, parking. That's all us."
Murray said the unit also provides safety courses for the community, a key element of the IACP award.
To be eligible for the honor, the section had to demonstrate efforts in three traffic safety priorities: occupant protection, impaired driving and speeding.
Prayne and Murray submitted three years' worth of data and statistics, demonstrating an increase in public information and education as well as consistent enforcement and effectiveness of efforts.
"We had a one-inch notebook of information and documentation for consideration," Prayne said.
The unit improved its outreach and education programs to help meet those requirements, including child passenger safety checks, seat belt demonstrations and ramped up traffic violation campaigns, Prayne added.
"We've seen a positive impact," he said. "We were handing out very few tickets (at safety enforcement checks), so that shows we're actually making an impact."
The MPs and civilian police officers have reached out to the Fort Carson community, working closely with the Army Substance Abuse Program and hosting mock crashes for 1,500 troops to show the devastating effects of drunken driving, Prayne said.
"We're educating counselors. We're providing traffic safety classes to units. We did a lot of public education," he said.
Prayne and Murray said it was because of these increased efforts that they earned the recognition.
"We try to do the best we can at our job," Murray said. "This award shows we're doing our best."
Murray and Prayne will travel to San Diego, Oct. 3 to formally accept the award.