Enfield PD receives award for traffic enforcement

By Laura F. Alix
Journal Inquirer

Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 10:01 AM EST
ENFIELD — Traffic safety is all part of a day’s work for town police officers, but it’s still nice to get a little recognition every now and then.

And that’s exactly what the Enfield Police Department recently received from the Law Enforcement Challenge program — recognition for its officers’ hard work and a first place award for overall traffic enforcement.

“It’s a very prestigious highway safety award,” Department of Transportation Law Enforcement Liaison Edmund Hedge said recently. “Enfield is very proud of the award, as any police department should be.”

The program — which was created through a partnership between the state Department of Transportation and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association — assigns points to applicant departments based on various components of their highway safety measures, Hedge said.

For example, departments are judged against municipalities of the same size on how they handle issues such as seatbelt safety, drunken driving, and speeding, and their participation in community campaigns such as Click It or Ticket.

And though this is the Enfield Police Department’s first year participating in the program, it stacked up pretty well against the competition, taking first place in its category based on the size of the department.

“We’re very pleased to receive the award,” Police Chief Carl J. Sferrazza said recently. “It’s a reflection on the work our officers do out in the field to keep our people safe every day.”

Sferrazza said the department has stepped up its focus on traffic safety over the past year, and those efforts have paid off in tangible ways for the community.

“We’ve noticed an increase in our seatbelt compliance rate,” which now hovers around the 80 percent mark, Sferrazza said.

And problematic intersections, such as Freshwater Boulevard and Hazard Avenue, have experienced about a 30 percent decrease in accidents, he said.

“That’s a direct result of those speed enforcement projects that we’ve run,” Sferrazza said.

Enfield police have also joined with other area police departments for special projects, including speed enforcement and DUI enforcement efforts, he said.

Although the Law Enforcement Challenge program did not consider work with other departments for the award, Sferrazza said that move has been important to the department’s success.

“When you partner up with other departments, they may have ideas that we hadn’t thought of,” he said.

It also helps when the department applies for various state and federal grants, which ultimately help police run more projects at less of a cost to local taxpayers.

But in the midst of all this talk about awards, projects, and grants, Sferrazza hasn’t lost sight of the department’s true intentions.

“The ultimate goal of all our traffic efforts is to keep people safe,” he said. “I think this is a win for the police officers and certainly for the people in this community.”