On Friday, June 10, 2016 four new Polk County recruits graduated from the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), an academy which consisted of sixteen weeks of intense police training. The four recruits were Deputy Jacob La Combe, Deputy Michael Stevenson, Deputy Kelly Lorence and Deputy Thomas Hutchison. Deputy La Combe had the honor of singing the National Anthem during the graduation ceremony.
Deputy La Combe has already completed his field training with Polk County and will be a solo deputy, filling a patrol shift. The other three recruits will continue their training with an FTO (field training officer).
Polk County Sheriff Mark Garton, on hand to address the graduates, emphasized to each new officer the importance of "perspective and honor" during their careers. Proud of his four deputies, Garton stated that he "expects the same professionalism and dedication" from Deputies Josh Allen, Sam Mears and Michael Lauderback who start their 4 month academy training on June 13, joining Deputies Marty Watson and AJ Miller who graduate in mid-July.
***Note to editor: The picture, from left to right -- Deputy La Combe, Deputy Stevenson, Sheriff Garton, Deputy Lorence and Deputy Hutchison. Also, I included the poorly taken video of Deputy La Combe while singing the National Anthem, but provides a sound bite if needed****
From May 16th through 29th, 2016, members of local law enforcement were out on patrol to remind drivers and passengers to Click It or Ticket. The Polk County Sheriff's Office, which participated in the national enforcement campaign, issued warnings and citations to sixty (60) motorists for various violations, including seat belt violations and speeding. Deputies also issued citations to four motorists for driving with a suspended driver's license. These enhanced efforts were made possible by a grant that the Sheriff's Office applied for and received.
Sheriff Garton is proud of the hard work and dedication local law enforcement showed to promote the message of Click it or Ticket. Sheriff Garton also wants to thank those who use their seatbelts on a regular basis. The safety of the residents in Polk County as well as those who travel through Polk County is very important. By having Sheriff's Office personnel issue warnings and even citations, if warranted, will help ensure our roads are even safer than before. Polk County law enforcement too often responds to traffic crashes where the lack of seat belt use could have prevented serious injury or death. Sheriff Garton's sincere hope is that those that were stopped realize we do this to remind them that we care about their safety.
This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) aimed to increase campaign participation even more by coordinating a "Coast to Coast" seat belt enforcement effort. Deputies focused on Polk County highways, such as Hw 22, Hw 51, Hw 99, and Hw 18. Focusing on these highways served to link and highlight the Click It or Ticket campaigns "Coast to Coast" seat belt enforcement effort.
According to research conducted by NHTSA, while 88.5 percent of passenger vehicle occupants buckled up in 2015, almost 50 percent of occupants of fatal crashes nationwide are not restrained. In some states, the rate is as high as 70 percent unrestrained in fatal crashes. This fact gravely highlights the need for increased enforcement and awareness of seat belt use.
For more information on the Click It or Ticket campaign, please visit www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.