“Safety” was the guest of honor at an awards banquet today at the Pipestem Resort State Park.
The West Virginia Coalfields Highway Safety Program gathered to honor police agencies in Region 8, representing seven counties, including McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Summers, Pocahontas and Wyoming.
The Coalfields Program is part of the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, an initiative to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities in the state.
The banquet was hosted by Sergeant Adam Ballard, coordinator of the safety program. Ballard says, the awards banquet is the time to show respect to the men and women who put their lives on the line, day in and day out.
“Whether it’s day-to-day work or overtime work, I just want to give them a pat on the back for it,” said Ballard.
Officers and their agencies were recognized across the board for their service, including crash investigations, speed enforcement and distracted driving, with a plaque, applause and a warm thank you.
Corporal Tyler Sizemore with Wyoming County Sheriffs Department was recognized for 82 DUI arrests, ranking first for his region.
“That’s a passion of mine since I put on the badge, apprehending impaired drivers across my county,” said Sizemore. “Unfortunately, it leads to a lot of time away from home, missed ball games, missed birthdays, it does take a toll on your life.”
Bluefield Police Department Patrolman Kevin Ross was recognized for seat belt citations. He says receiving this award makes the job, worth it.
“It makes you feel good, to go out and do your job,” said Ross. “Let’s you know that everybody doesn’t dislike the police.”
“Most of the time they don’t hear how they’re doing a good job,” said Bob Tipton, Director for the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. “We want them to know that we appreciate what they do.”
Part of the recognition for DUI arrests included the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which ran from December 13th through New Year’s Day.
“There were over 500 DUI arrests for the seven counties, that’s pretty substantial,” said Ballard. “We’re stopping those drivers before they hurt themselves or someone else on the roadway.”
The campaign was a collaborative effort from police agencies across the area to put a stop to “buzzed driving.”