August 16, 2007

Police department earns statewide honor

by Pete Rosenbery


CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety knows something about multi-tasking.

In addition to what many would consider regular law enforcement duties, the 38-officer force also focuses on community outreach and public information programs. Those combined exemplary efforts earned the department top honors earlier this month in the college/campus police department division of the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge, sponsored by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

The annual program is available to law enforcement agencies throughout the state in several divisions. This is the second time in four years that SIUC's police department earned the state's top honors — also capturing the competition in 2003.

"It's a great thing for the department to be involved with," Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler said. "It's a nice testament to the efforts of the people who have been involved in the program. It validates in the minds of the officers that what they are doing is getting recognized.

"We are going to continue to work with the community to ensure that our campus remains a safe, traffic-friendly environment," he said.

The department's accomplishments include DUI education and crime prevention programs and traffic safety programs, including the Illinois Department of Transportation's Mini-Grant Alcohol Enforcement Program. That program enables SIUC to hire off-duty officers to conduct traffic enforcement activities for a specific number of hours over a two-week period eight times a year. The competition also looks at departmental policies.

For winning the event, SIUC's department received a portable radar speed trailer that will tell motorists their speeds when driving on campus. The mobile trailer includes a data chip that records information on traffic volume and average speed, Sigler said. The mobile trailer will be an education tool to tell motorists how fast they are driving and remind them of the 20 mph speed limit on campus, he said.

SIUC police sergeants Kenneth W. Sneed and John T. Allen represented the department during an awards breakfast in Rosemont last week.

Sneed and Sigler noted that the competition is not "numbers driven," in terms of specific number of traffic citations — but looks at the impact the various programs have within a department's jurisdiction.

"Just for our department to receive recognition, it was a privilege and honor to be recognized for our traffic efforts," Sneed said. "We realize it is an important part of what we are about; it's all about safety."