COLUMBIA, S.C. - Winthrop University’s Campus Police won one of six police cars at a statewide event this week to recognize law enforcement agencies and officers for their dedication to increase safety belt use, slow down speeders and reduce impaired and aggressive driving.
The vehicle is a 2007 Dodge Charger, which is fully equipped and valued at around $28,000.
The six agencies received the cars at the 2007 Law Enforcement Challenge recognition ceremony presented by the S.C. Department of Public Safety on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Seawell’s in Columbia. About 300 people, mostly law enforcement officers, gathered for the event.
The five other winning agencies were: Pageland Police Department, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Hanahan Police Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Office and the Lexington Police Department.
“Highway safety affects everybody, and with these Dodge Chargers on patrol in communities throughout the state, we’ll show citizens that the Department of Public Safety and local agencies are united in making our roads safer for everyone,” said James K. Schweitzer, director of the S.C. Department of Public Safety.
The Law Enforcement Challenge that led up to the vehicle presentations is a unique incentive program designed by the department’s Office of Highway Safety to award outstanding achievements in highway safety enforcement and education. About 90 agencies participated in a statewide traffic initiative from December 15, 2006, to September 3, 2007.
In order to be eligible to win a car, law enforcement agencies had to participate in the initiative through their local Law Enforcement Networks. Six networks were selected based on several criteria, including the level of participation among the agencies in each network, checkpoints, monthly statistical reporting and the effect enforcement had on DUI statistics. Participating agencies in one of the six selected networks were then qualified to enter a random drawing at the ceremony for one of the six cars.
Officer Dewayne Bunch represented Winthrop at the conference. He drew for the Dodge car key against the Rock Hill Police Department, York County Sheriff’s Department, Fort Mill Police Department and the Clover Police Department. He was the last to pick his key and the last to try it in the ignition.
Bunch also brought home a radar gun, which was presented to each law enforcement agency that participated in the traffic enforcement initiative.
The Dodge Chargers and other equipment were purchased with federal grant funds to assist in traffic enforcement efforts. Next year, the department plans to award up to eight police vehicles. In order to qualify to win a car, agencies must participate in a traffic initiative that kicks off Dec. 14 and runs through Sept. 1, 2008.