Police / Fire

Hollister Police Department receives CHP’s top safety program award

The California Highway Patrol presented the Hollister Police Department with first-place Law Enforcement Challenge and Commissioner's Awards.

During the Sept. 6 Hollister City Council meeting, Assistant Chief Sean McRae, from the California Highway Patrol's Coastal Division, representing CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow, presented the first place 2016 Law Enforcement Challenge and the Commissioner’s Awards for traffic safety to Hollister Police Chief David Westrick, who accepted the awards for the Hollister Police Department.

McRae told the council that the California Law Enforcement Challenge started in 2003 as a competition between similar-sized law enforcement agencies in looking for best traffic practice programs within the state. The challenge focuses on speeding, impaired driving and occupant restraint. He said the challenge provides law enforcement agencies with opportunities to make a difference in the communities they serve, learn from one another, and establish future goals in traffic safety, enforcement and education.

“The Hollister Police Department (HPD) has a successful history of competing in the challenge,” McRae said. “In 2011, it received a third-place award; in 2012, a second-place award; and in 2013, a third place award, with a special award for motorcycle safety.”

HPD went on to take two more third-place awards and two special awards for motorcycle safety in 2014 and 2015. Farrow said the department, for the first time, took first place in the Law Enforcement Challenge for departments with 1 to 50 officers, as well as the Commissioner’s Award.

“Each year, as part of this challenge, one agency submission is chosen as having the best overall traffic safety program and the Hollister Police Department was chosen as that agency,” he said as he presented the Commissioner’s Award to  Westrick. “To the citizens, you should be very proud of your law enforcement agency.”

As Westrick stepped up to the podium, he asked Lt. Eric Olson and HPD volunteer Jack Cocchi to join him.  

“It’s important that these two are recognized tonight not only for their efforts in putting together these programs, but also for inspiring the department as a whole, each and every officer who was involved in the programs over the last year to do this,” he said. “A great amount of credit goes to the officers who are out doing this every single day. They’re committed to making Hollister safer.”

Westrick told BenitoLink that his department has been working on the program for seven years.

“This last year, we were first in the whole state for traffic programs, and we don’t even have a unit here,” he said. “It was all the police officers getting together and doing the program that we wrote in-house to reduce instances of injuries and incidents of collisions. It’s designed to save lives.”

He said the program is based on the ratio of collisions to the number of citations, the number of officers, population, traffic patterns, and a number of other factors. He said the competition was between Hollister and every other city in the state.

According to an HPD press release, the California Law Enforcement Challenge, which is modeled after the International Association of Chiefs of Police National Law Enforcement Challenge, is a competition between similar size and type of law enforcement agencies for the best traffic safety programs in California. The competition focuses on an agency's efforts in occupant protection, impaired driving, and speed awareness, as well as a traffic safety issue unique to the submitting agency's jurisdiction.

The program allows law enforcement agencies to set comprehensive goals, strive to reach new heights in traffic safety, share their experiences with others, and be recognized for their traffic safety accomplishments. The release noted, "This competition has no losers, only winners for making a difference in their communities by effectively saving lives and reducing the frequency and severity of injuries caused by traffic collisions. These are the true rewards of law enforcement's efforts in traffic safety."

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]