GLENDALE — The Glendale Police Department won a third-place award in a law enforcement competition recognizing the best traffic safety programs throughout California.
The Police Department earned its third-place standing in a category with similar-sized police agencies in the 2009 California Law Enforcement Challenge. Riverside Police Department won first place, and the Bakersfield Police Department took second.
"Although we have made improvements, we still have a goal of making it safer that it currently is, so we continue to look at the resources that we have, to look at the grant funding that is available, and to adjust programs," Glendale Police Lt. Carl Povilaitis said.
The competition focuses on evaluating a law enforcement agency's efforts in public education, officer training and its enforcement of laws. Combined, the agency's efforts should have resulted in a reduction of traffic collisions in their jurisdictions.
The agencies also had to demonstrate seatbelt compliance and increased speed enforcement and arrests of motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
DUI drivers, speeding and pedestrian-involved collisions have been some of the Police Department's most pressing concerns.
In 2008, police cited 7,857 motorists for speeding, according to the department. The number of citations increased to 8,096 in 2009.
Five people were killed in traffic collisions in 2008, while two people died in crashes in 2009.
The department's reduction in traffic fatalities and injuries, coupled with education and enforcement efforts, helped the Police Department earn its third place award, according to the competition's traffic safety panel.
"We are doing a lot with what we have," Sgt. Dennis Smith said.
Glendale's abysmal pedestrian-involved collision record has pushed the Police Department to step up its public education efforts, officials said.
In the past, sworn police officers and community service officers have passed out fliers with details about pedestrian safety to residents who live in high-collision areas.
Still, Smith said there is room for improvement in the categories of seatbelt and child-restraint-seat protection and officer recognition.
"My guys are so proactive, and I don't think we recognize them enough," he said.
Motorcycle Officer Bryan Duncan won a Mothers Against Drunk Driving award for arresting 40 motorists last year on suspicion of DUI.
Participating in the annual competition allows the Police Department to get an independent review of its procedures, Povilaitis said.
Law enforcement agencies that receive state traffic safety grants are required to participate in the competition.
The California Highway Patrol sponsors the annual competition, which is also supported by the California Office of Traffic Safety, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, International Assn. of Chiefs of Police and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.