Univeristy Police Honored in Governor’s Challenge Traffic Safety Program

Kurt Hanlon

The Office of Public Safety was honored along with more than 25 other state law enforcement agencies at the 15th annual Governor’s Challenge awards program. The program recognizes departments in seven categories based on size, as well as several specialty categories for contributions to highway safety around the state.

Georgia Southern was recognized in the Campus and University Police category, where it took second place, beat only by the University of Georgia’s campus police.

Judgement for each department is based on the enforcement and public education efforts the department makes, as well as the difference in traffic incident statistics over the previous year. Departments with lower numbers of accidents and fatalities are judged more favorably.

According to Public Safety Officer Tyrone McBride, the entire state has seen an increase in traffic fatalities for the first time in five years. “We’ve even felt that here in the eagle nation this year with the nursing students on I-16,” says McBride. “So we’re not where we want to be, but trying to find ways of getting there.”

However, McBride is proud of the department’s efforts in educating the public in traffic safety issues, working with the Office of Alcohol and Other Drugs to provide drunk driving simulators and Greek life organizations to provide awareness, as well as a new motorcycle safety awareness unit.

“We’re trying to reach out more to educate the student body rather than just pulling people over,” says McBride. “We’d rather you do the right thing because somebody told you that’s the right thing to do.”

The Governor’s Challenge program has now been operating for 16 years, with the Office of Public Safety participating for the past 8. “[Our performance] was a little rocky at the beginning,” says Officer McBride. “Now I think we have a pretty good grasp on it, and it shows here with our traffic numbers and our level of voluntary compliance.”

Even though Georgia Southern took 2nd place this year, the Office of Public Safety is still proud of their achievements, and is always on the lookout for improvements.

“We’re always striving to be the best,” says University Police Chief Laura McCullough. “However our bottom goal is that every student stays safe. As long as we keep seeing a decrease in fatalities, serious injuries, things like that…that’s a win for us.”