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Winchester Police Department Reward Students for Seat Belt Usage

Date of News Release: 02/01/07

[Winchester, Ky.] - It took three Police Cruisers to deliver over 80 pizzas to Conkwright Middle School, but the effort was well worth it to students who took part in the free food. This effort was part of a seatbelt awareness campaign that the Winchester Police Department (WPD) recently promoted at four local schools.

In June 2006, Captain Kevin Palmer assigned plain clothed officers to covertly gather seatbelt usage numbers from Conkwright Middle, Clark Middle, Sheare Elementary and Fannie Bush Elementary Schools. Plain-clothes officers stood outside the various schools in the morning where parents were dropping off the students. The results of the seat belt campaign indicated that belt usage was very low - with one school showing only 17.5% of passengers wearing seat belts.

Captain Palmer outlined a "Battle of the Belts" competition between all four schools by conducting Pep Rallies at each school to inform students about the competition and educate students regarding seat belt safety. The school with the highest increase of seatbelt usage would win a school-wide pizza party. The WPD sent letter home with each student to advise parents about the competition and the importance of seatbelt usage.

Captain Palmer reached out to community businesses and local government to assist with funding for the competition and the purchase of the pizzas.

Conkwright Middle School won the "Battle of the Belts" competition with a 271% increase in seat belt usage between June and December. Mike Menchen, Assistant Principle for Conkwright Middle School was proud of the students and the way that they responded to the competition. "If this competition has increased awareness to where it helps save the life of even one of these students, then it was worth it" said Menchen.

Sheare Elementary School was a close second starting out with 23% seat belt usage among students and going to 64% seat belt usage after the competition. Kentucky's average seat belt usage rate is 67%. "The competition was a huge success with an amazing belt usage increase for all the schools involved." Said Captain Palmer.

Representatives from the Governor's Highway Safety Program were in attendance at the Conkwright Award Party. "Captain Palmer and the staff of the Winchester Police Department have served as role models to other law enforcement agencies across the state, how lives can be saved through education and awareness programs" said Sherry Bray, spokesperson for the Governor's Highway Safety Program.

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