East Tennessee State University Police took the top spot among 19 universities nationwide in this year’s Tennessee Department of Transportation Governor’s Highway Safety Office 7th Annual Law Enforcement Challenge.
ETSU also took the top spot for Tennessee universities, something they’ve accomplished six of the last seven years. They also earned the top spot statewide in 2010.
A total of 54 awards were presented during a ceremony Sept. 9. Nationally, Tennessee agencies won 11 awards including five top honors.
The Law Enforcement Challenge is an annual competition designed to recognize and reward the best overall traffic safety programs across the state and across the country as judged by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Similar sizes and types of agencies are judged on their local efforts to enforce laws and educate the public about the dangers of driving impaired and speeding as well as the importance of occupant protection.
“This brings the kind of attention to the university we like to get,” said Jack Cotrel, ETSU public safety director. “I guess this is a crowning achievement in my career.”
Cotrel became an officer at ETSU in 1978. He became the university’s public safety director in 2001.
“It’s due to a lot of hard work,” Cotrel added. “Jerry Hughes, a Johnson City Police Department patrol officer, has done a great job working with us as a liaison. The work we turned in is compressed with all kinds of statistics. Overall, it wasn’t any single achievement; it’s been a conglomeration.”
ETSU officers have all of the police powers necessary to enforce all state laws. They also are certified firefighters and serve as first responders to any on-campus fire emergency.
The JCPD furnishes ETSU’s Department of Public Safety information concerning all offenses that occur off-campus at fraternity and sorority houses. The Department of Public Safety coordinates with the Johnson City Fire Department concerning all campus fires.
Cotrel, Hughes, Johnson City Police Chief John Lowry and representatives from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office gathered in front of the city’s Municipal & Safety Building Wednesday to take delivery of a 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe, complete with push bars, flashing blue lights and all the law enforcement accessories.
The JCPD placed third among Tennessee law enforcement agencies its size — 101-200 officers — for its traffic safety program. The department became eligible to win the vehicle in a drawing by participating in the law enforcement challenge in which its traffic enforcement and safety education programs were reviewed.
Representatives from 10 qualifying departments were given keys, and each took a turn at starting the cruiser.
“Sgt. (Scotty) Carrier’s key turned on the lights, which indicated we won the Tahoe,” Lowry said in a news release Wednesday. “We have partnered with the Governor’s Highway Safety Office for many years and have always valued their support of local law enforcement. This Tahoe builds upon that partnership, and we will put it to good use in our traffic safety program.”
All law enforcement agencies in the state are eligible to submit applications to participate in the program. The deadline for submissions is April 15. Once all applications are received, an administrator creates a database of all applying agencies. The database is then packaged with all applications and mailed to the IACP for scoring.
The JCPD was bested this year statewide by the Kingsport Police Department, which took second place and the Franklin Police Department, which earned top honors.