SUNY Oswego police rank high in national safety contest

University Police at State University College at Oswego recently placed second in a national competition among college and university law enforcement departments, many of them much larger than Oswego’s 21 sworn officers.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police recently announced the recognition for the University Police in the 2012 Law Enforcement Challenge, a national traffic safety program that recognizes excellence through a competition within categories of police departments from municipalities, states, federal agencies, military and others.

“I was shocked and pleased that we did so well,” said University Police Assistant Chief Kevin Velzy, who prepared Oswego’s entry. “We were competing against departments such as the first-place entry, Georgia State University, which has got about 130 people working there.”

This is the fourth consecutive year University Police at Oswego have participated in the program, earning statewide recognition and first place in New York in 2012.

The department will formally receive the national honor at a conference this fall.

The competition, sponsored by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee at the state level, judges departments on policies and guidelines, officer training, incentives and recognition, public information and education, enforcement activity and effectiveness of efforts — all in the areas of speed enforcement, occupant restraint and driving while intoxicated enforcement.

Oswego’s entry booklet notes that in 2012, thanks to a 20-mph speed limit, a mild winter and departmental enforcement and education efforts, there were 58 vehicle crashes on college roads — down from 79 — only three with injuries and none with fatalities.

“Many thanks to all of the police officers here at SUNY Oswego who are dedicated to keeping our community safe on the highway,” said University Police Chief John Rossi.

University Police issued 59 percent more speeding tickets in 2012 than in 2011, participated in STOP-DWI, anti-texting and seat belt and car seat checks both on campus and in the surrounding community.

But driver education is equally important for the department, Velzy said. University Police participated in “Click It or Ticket, Buckle Up New York” campaigns, Child Passenger Safety Program events, an impaired-driving program in residence halls using “Fatal Vision” goggles and in training and certification programs for its officers.

The department maintains Web and Facebook pages and a Twitter account for public information.

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