Pictured L-R: NCHP Trooper A. M. Rorabaugh, ICSO Sgt L. J. Hayes, Troutman PD Officer J. Dagenhart, Iredell County District Attorney – Sarah Kirkman, Iredell County Partnership For Young Children – Missy Jablonski – Child Care Health Consultant, Iredell County Partnership For Young Children – Joanne Rogers – Parent Educator, Statesville PD Officer Ben Hardy, Mooresville PD Cpl J. H. Dingler, NCHP Trooper K. D. Allred – Picture courtesy of the Statesville Police Department
Representatives from Statesville PD, Troutman PD, Mooresville PD, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, NC Highway Patrol, Iredell County Partnership for Young Children, and the Iredell County District Attorney’s Office met at the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children’s Salisbury Rd location this morning to kick off a new traffic safety program. The new Car Seat Diversion Program is intended to help educate drivers about the laws and the importance of properly restraining children in motor vehicles, specifically drivers who receive citations for unrestrained or improperly restrained children in Iredell County.
After serving in the Statesville Police Department Traffic Unit for over ten years, Officer Ben Hardy says he was frustrated with the amount of accidents he has responded to where children were unnecessarily injured due to not being properly restrained in a vehicle. He had an idea that he hoped could make a difference through education and accountability.
The idea was for officers who are issuing a citation for a child restraint related violation to provide additional materials to the driver that offers them the ability to have the charge dismissed by contacting a participating agency and meeting with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician who would verify the driver has the correct car seat for their child and the knowledge of how to properly install it.
Hardy took the idea to the Iredell County District Attorney’s Office, where he met with District Attorney Sarah Kirkman and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Floyd who were immediately on board. Hardy contacted the other local law enforcement agencies to see if they would be interested in being part of the program and also reached out to Iredell County Partnership For Young Children, an incredible local resource for child safety and education services.
Representatives from Statesville PD, Troutman PD, Mooresville PD, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, NC Highway Patrol, the District Attorney’s Office and Iredell County Partnership for Young Children met several times over the past year to coordinate the literature, forms and procedure for the new Iredell County Car Seat Diversion Program. There are similar programs in counties throughout North Carolina that were referenced during the process and the group was able to take ideas from several different established programs.
After making an appointment, the driver is required to bring the ticket, correct car seat, vehicle and child to the appointment, where the officer will confirm that the car seat meets the safety requirements for the age and weight of the child. The officer will also confirm that the car seat has not had any safety recalls and will demonstrate the proper installation and how to properly secure the safety belts when the child is in the seat. Before the officer signs off on the paperwork, they will remove the car seat and the driver must install the seat and secure the child. If all the requirements are met, the officer will fill out a Child Restraint Inspection Court System Verification Form that the driver will then take to the District Attorney’s office and the ticket will be dismissed.
Hardy says in addition to this program, he’s working to get Statesville PD certified as a Permanent Child Safety Checkpoint through the Buckle Up! NC initiative, hosted as part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. As a permanent checkpoint, there will be someone available at a specified time and day each month so that citizens can stop by without an appointment to receive assistance and education pertaining to child safety seats. The program also provides car seats that officers can distribute in the community.
The child safety seat education and assistance services described in this release are always available to citizens by contacting your local law enforcement agency (or Iredell County Partnership For Young Children) and scheduling an appointment to meet with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Most agencies also offer several Child Passenger Safety Demonstration events throughout the year that offer child safety seat installation assistance and the chance to meet the local traffic officers and ask questions.
Statesville PD appreciates the other law enforcement agencies, the DA’s Office and Iredell County Partnership For Young Children for making this program possible!
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