Nov. 20—HERMITAGE — Whether its education or enforcement, the Hermitage Police Department is trying to make the streets of Hermitage safer — and was among the police departments recognized for its efforts this year.
During a ceremony on Nov. 10 in Cranberry, AAA East Central awarded the Hermitage Police Department its 2022 AAA Community Traffic Safety Platinum Award.
Hermitage police Chief Eric Jewell said the award was issued based on the department's efforts that ranged from DUI enforcement, to seat belt and aggressive-driving enforcement — which could include unsafe practices such as road rage, speeding or tailgating.
Education is another important part of the department's efforts, such as reminding drivers to buckle up or having school resource officers educate students on such dangers as texting or drinking while driving, Jewell said.
Due to the department's variety of programs, the award was credited in-part to the department's traffic unit, DUI task force, aggressive driving task forces and seat belt buckle-up programs.
The department's combined efforts of education and enforcement have "absolutely" made a difference with local drivers, and Jewell said he's noticed a decrease of DUIs in particular over the past five years.
"We have a lot of traffic ways here in Hermitage, from local streets to state highways, and interstate traffic from nearby Shenango Township," Jewell said.
The Hermitage Police Department had previously received silver and gold awards from AAA, but this was the department's first platinum award.
Aside from this award, Jewell said the department maintains an "awesome" partnership with AAA, which organizes some programs with the police. One event earlier this year allowed residents to bring their faded license plates to the local AAA office and get the documents signed for new license plates.
"It's a great private company," Jewell said of AAA. "They're as committed to public safety as we are."
Jewell also credited the department's success to its collaboration with the Mercer County District Attorney's Office and the county's other police departments, which he said helps make Mercer County and the Shenango Valley a safer place to drive and commute.
Besides Hermitage, AAA East Central also recognized the police departments in Grove City, and Neshannock and Shenango townships in Lawrence County with platinum awards.
Pennsylvania State Police Troop D in Butler, Lawrence County, received a platinum award, while the New Castle Police Department received a silver award, according to a press release.
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