Cornell Police receives national recognition

For the fifth year, Cornell has been recognized as one of the top U.S. universities for its promotion of traffic safety, placing second among 15 university law enforcement agencies in the National Law Enforcement Challenge, sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). This is the second consecutive year in which Cornell has been awarded the second-place ranking.

This year the university highlighted the work done in two areas to enhance the safety of Cornell community members and visitors: the Pedestrian, Bike and Skateboard (PBS) Education and Enforcement Program, implemented by Cornell Police, and its many efforts to increase alcohol awareness.

The PBS program was made possible through a New York state grant that paid for educational fliers and stepped up patrolling of intersections and pedestrian crossings. "At the beginning of the fall 2011 semester, we stopped 178 pedestrians in the course of two days who were disregarding traffic signals when crossing a street," said Sgt. Anthony Tostanoski. He also said the police increased bike safety and skateboarding enforcement, stopping nearly four times as many bicyclists and more than six times as many skateboarders for unsafe practices than in the past.

Cornell University Police uses a wide variety of approaches to increase awareness about unhealthy drinking behaviors and addresses underage and binge drinking, including visiting Greek houses to hold lectures and mocktail parties, where only nonalcoholic drinks are served, and presenting awareness information to students in the Hotel School's popular Wine and Society class, Tostanoski said. Last year they reached more than 3,500 students through these efforts, he said.

"All these programs, combined with our officers' dedication and day-to-day efforts, have greatly increased awareness of campus safety this past year," said Chief of Police Kathy Zoner.

"I am very pleased with the work that our police continue to do to keep this campus safe, not only for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, but also for all those who live and work here," said Mary Opperman, vice president for human resources and safety services. "This recognition acknowledges their unwavering commitment to protecting the campus community."

The university became eligible for the national challenge when the Cornell University Police received first-place honors at the New York Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Challenge this spring. The Cornell Police will be formally recognized at the annual IACP conference in San Diego, Sept. 29-Oct. 3.

The National Law Enforcement Challenge is a traffic safety awards program that recognizes excellent law enforcement traffic safety programs, supported through a cooperative agreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association and the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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Joe Schwartz