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WSP named best law enforcement agency in the country

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Washington State Patrol (WSP) was named the best police agency of its size in 2006.

In 2007, the department took it one step further.

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced Tuesday that the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) named WSP the best law enforcement agency in the nation for 2007.

“Last year, WSP won its category. This year, the agency moved up to be named the role model for all public safety agencies,” Gregoire stated in a news release. “Each of our families is safer because of the lifesaving work done by these men and women.”

WSP was one of many police agencies to submit a résumé and information for the “Law Enforcement Challenge.” The award recognizes excellence in reducing deaths and injuries on the highways. Judges look at traffic enforcement, public education and occupant protection when selecting a winner.

“Everybody’s very proud of themselves. We worked hard for this, we worked together as a team for this award,” said Trooper Krista Hedstrom, WSP spokeswoman for District 8, which includes Kitsap County.

The competition requires agencies that win their category to move up to the championship arena the following year, so because WSP was named the best police agency of its size in 2006, they moved up to compete for the top prize. State patrol was one of 23 prior category winners competing in the 2007 Championship Class.

“We were selected the best of the best,” said Sgt. Freddy Williams, a WSP spokesman based in Olympia.

WSP saw a significant decrease in the number of fatalities on the state’s highways in 2007. There were approximately 70 fewer deaths in 2007 than 2006 and Williams said everyone from uniformed troopers to non-commissioned staff members helped bring that number down.

“This is an exceptional honor,” WSP Chief John Batiste stated in a news release. “It belongs to the men and women of WSP who are committed to reducing deaths and injuries on Washington highways.”

Williams said that state patrol takes a number of steps to keep people safe on Washington’s highways including enforcing traffic laws and educating the public on the laws and proper safety measures. He added that the state Department of Transportation takes some credit for the award because they are responsible for creating the highways with safety in mind. Williams also said the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) across the state provide rapid responses to motor vehicle collisions, which saves numerous lives.

“They’re constantly working to make our roads safer,” Williams said.

He added that state patrol is on tap to reduce the number of deaths on highways even more in 2008.

“So far to date in 2008 we’re on a record-setting pace to save lives,” he said.

“The Washington State Patrol has always been committed to traffic safety and the numbers show they’re being effective,” IACP President Ron Ruecker said.

WSP will be presented with a trophy at the IACP national convention in November.

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