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NKY Officers Honored for Seat Belt, Child Restraint Enforcement

Northern Kentucky police officers are among those from across the state honored for their efforts to increase the use of seat belts and child restraints in vehicles.

The Governor’s Occupant Protection Enforcement Awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington. Awards were presented to officers with the most occupant protection citations in each agency and in each division. There are six divisions, broken down by number of officers within the agency, and a division for Kentucky State Police.

“These officers, their departments and agencies render a great service for public safety by enforcing our occupant protection laws,” KOHS Executive Director Noelle Hunter said before presenting the awards.“Officers would rather write a seat belt or car restraint citation than make a death notification.” 

All winners received a plaque, while the top three division winners were presented with the Highway Safety All-Star Award – an encased commemorative baseball bat from Louisville Slugger.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts, when worn correctly, are proven to reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat occupants by 45 percent and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans. Also according to NHTSA, properly installed child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars.  In light trucks, SUVs and minivans, properly restrained child restraints reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 58 percent for infants and 59 percent for toddlers.

“Kentucky will continue to raise awareness and increase enforcement of this life-saving measure,” said Hunter. “Writing citations is not a strategy designed to increase arrests; in fact, it may result in decreased citation counts over time, which is our goal.”

With the passage of the primary law, Kentucky’s seat belt usage rate increased from 67 percent in 2006 to 86.8 percent in 2017. The national seat belt usage rate is 90.1 percent.

Northern Kentucky officers honored:

2018 OP AWARDS - DIVISION WINNERS

Division One

Second Place - Officer Brian Locknane - Cold Spring Police

Division Four

Second Place - Officer Chris Boone - Florence Police

Division Five 

Third Place - Deputy Teddy Melton - Boone County Sheriff's Office

INDIVIDUAL WINNERS

Sgt. James K. Mathews - Alexandria Police

Officer Ian Kirst - Bellevue Police

Sgt. Donald Dornheggen - Campbell County Police

Officer Dwight D. Watts - CVG Airport Police

Specialist Erik Ruete - Covington Police

Officer Josh Wilhoit - Dayton Police

Patrolman Jamie Ruehl - Edgewood Police

Officer Joe Gonzalez - Erlanger Police

Officer Nicholas Hoffman - Fort Thomas Police

Specialist Jeff Hoppenjans - Fort Wright Police

Officer Mark Wilke - Highland Heights Police

Sgt. Aaron Schihl - Kenton County Police

Trooper Joseph Kenny - Kentucky State Police - Post 6 (Dry Ridge)

Sgt. Eric Love - Ludlow Police

Officer Dan Delaney - Newport Police

Officer Jonathan Payne - Northern Kentucky University Police

Sgt. Ronnie Gross - Southgate Police

Patrolman Mickey Collins - Wilder Police

Patrolman Cody Blevins - Williamstown Police

-Staff report

Photo: Florence Police Officer Chris Boone accepts his second place award (provided)