PITTSBURG — Two area law enforcement agencies are among the highest ranked in the state when it comes to traffic safety, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

The Pittsburg Police Department and Cherokee County Sheriff's Office each received a AAA Kansas Community Traffic Safety Award at the platinum level for 2019. The awards are also given at the gold and silver levels.

“The awards have been presented annually since 2011 by AAA Kansas to community law enforcement agencies for their efforts to successfully and cost-effectively improve local traffic safety,” a Monday press release from AAA Kansas notes. “The agencies are scored and recognized for their efforts in multiple categories, including education, emergency medical response, enforcement and engineering.”

While 51 law enforcement agencies across the state were given AAA Kansas Community Traffic Safety Awards this year, both the Pittsburg Police Department and Cherokee County Sheriff's Office are also among a smaller group of just six agencies statewide that have earned the award every year since the program started.

Pittsburg Police Patrol Sergeant Travis Bowman said that although the PPD received a gold award its first year, it has received a platinum award every year since then — giving it the highest number of platinum level awards of any agency in the state.

“It’s not really what we do, I mean it is, but it’s more what the community does to be honest with you,” Bowman said. “It involves a lot of infrastructure stuff that’s paid for by the taxpayers.”

Bowman said traffic safety efforts that have contributed to the PPD’s platinum level award include the Safe Route To School program; the City of Pittsburg having a seatbelt policy for employees; the police department being a child safety seat fitting station, doing safety seat education, and hosting passenger safety check events twice a year; and the Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant through the Kansas Department of Transportation that pays to help with enforcement of seat belt, DUI, and texting and driving laws.

“The Pittsburg Police Department and Cherokee County Sheriff's Office have been longtime stalwarts in their traffic safety efforts,” said Shawn Steward, public affairs manager for AAA Kansas.

Steward said that before receiving a rating across the multiple scoring categories, agencies have to apply to be considered for the award, and both agencies have been diligent and consistent about applying for the AAA traffic safety award every year.