A Maryville Police officer and two area departments as a whole have been honored for their work.

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office named MPD Cpl. Ben Belitz the East Tennessee “Traffic Safety Officer of the Year,” a press release states.

“Corporal Belitz is dedicated to our traffic safety program and his diligence in his field secured this win,” THSO Lt. Michael Braden said in the release. “He worked hard to help design and implement the traffic safety program.”

And Belitz wasn’t the only MPD employee recognized; Officer Travis Hill received an Impaired Driving Enforcement honor, and Officer Matthew Tipton’s work in speed enforcement was recognized.

“Each year the Tennessee Highway Safety Office in conjunction with the National Highway Transportation Administration recognizes law enforcement organizations in East Tennessee for achievements in traffic safety,” Braden said.

“Our department participates in the challenge each year in order to measure our success against other agencies in the state. The goal remains to keep our roads safer throughout the year.”

MPD placed second overall for its department-size group (46-75 sworn officers) in the safety office’s Law Enforcement Challenge competition, and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office finished third in its category (101-200 sworn officers).

“These awards are a reflection of the hard work of our entire department,” Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said. “It is a rewarding experience for our staff to be recognized for the work they do every day and we appreciate the Tennessee Highway Safety Office for their support.”

Blount County Sheriff James Berrong announced his department’s placement in a Thursday post on BCSO’s Facebook page.

“The BCSO works closely throughout the year with the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, in conjunction with the National Highway Transportation Administration,” the post states, “by way of educational resources and grant funding to place additional deputies on our roadways during nights and on weekends to be on the look-out for drunk drivers.

“The BCSO also receives a grant to place more deputies on the area of U.S. Highway 129 known as the ‘Dragon’ throughout the year to temper speeding and reckless driving on this dangerous 11.2 mile stretch of highway that includes 318 curves.”

Challenge applicants are judged on numerous criteria involving traffic safety policies and guidelines, plus their enforcement and effectiveness.

“The BCSO participates in the Law Enforcement Challenge every year beginning in 2003, and we have consistently received state and national recognition and awards in the area of traffic safety,” the post states.

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