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Traffic Safety Advocates Recognized at Partner Summit

Traffic Safety Advocates Recognized at Partner Summit

For Immediate Release: Apr 02 2019
Bismarck, ND – Representatives of law enforcement, transportation, engineering, public health, and other safety agencies from across the state are gathering to discuss traffic safety today and Wednesday for the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s Vision Zero Partner Summit.
 
Topics discussed on day one included the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for emergency and crash response, distracted driving, and the data behind crash fatalities and serious injuries. Discussion on day two will focus almost exclusively on the dangers of impaired driving. 
 
The Summit includes an awards ceremony for those who showed outstanding service and dedication to accomplish the overall goal of Vision Zero, to eliminate motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads.

The Vision Zero Partner Summit is made possible thanks to AAA – The Auto Club Group, Conoco Phillips, Puklich Chevrolet, and Minnkota Power Cooperative.
 
Join the mission of Vision Zero to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes in North Dakota by becoming part of the Vision Zero Partner Network.
 

The Bismarck region winners are in the following categories:

2019 Traffic Safety Officer of the Year - Honors the officer who displayed significant contributions to traffic safety through enforcement, training and education for the past year.

Officer Joseph Benke, Bismarck Police Department
  • Made 52 Drug arrests
  • Made 23 Felony arrests
  • Made 76 arrests for Suspended/Revoked License violations
  • Made 153 Other Misdemeanor arrests
  • Arrest of a dangerous individual wanted on multiple warrants
  • Multiple K-9 stops
2019 Beyond the Traffic Stop - These officers used outstanding investigative skills that led to multiple arrests for narcotics, stolen property, and outstanding warrants from a single routine traffic stop.

Officer Joseph Benke, Bismarck Police Department (pictured below) 
  • Officer Benke conducted surveillance which resulted in the arrest of a dangerous individual wanted on multiple warrants.
2019 Traffic Safety Media Award - This award is for the reporter/news organization that has been fair, balanced, and informative in reporting transportation/traffic related issues on radio, television, newspaper, or internet/social media.
  • Bismarck Tribune Editorial Board, Bismarck Tribune
    • The Safe Driving Can Take Some Sacrifices editorial, dated August 16, 2018, recognized and supported the newly implemented North Dakota state policy where state employees were no longer allowed to use cell phones while operating a state motor vehicle. The editorial recognized that this policy change is the State of ND “setting the example for other drivers.” 

Officer Joseph Benke


 

The Devils Lake region winner is in the following category:

 
  • 2019 Child Passenger Safety Award - Recognizes the Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians and/or instructors for their commitment to child passenger safety through participation in check-up events, public education opportunities, teaching efforts, and dedication to a local, area-wide or state-wide CPS program. 
    • Shelley Aabrekke, RN, Lake Region District Health Unit
      • CPS Technician for 18 years CPS Proxy since 2015 and serves the Lake Region and surrounding areas.
      • Strong community advocate for child passenger safety through event coordination, trainings, presentations, social media, car seat checkup event advertising, and radio spots.
      • The “go to” educator whenever issues arise and provide peer staff education trainings.
Shelley Aabrekke


 

The Fargo region winners are in the following categories:

 
  • 2019 Beyond the Traffic Stop - These officers used outstanding investigative skills that led to multiple arrests for narcotics, stolen property, and outstanding warrants from a single routine traffic stop.
    • Officer Joseph Solberg, Fargo Police Department
      • Officer Solberg’s investigation following a traffic stop near a hotel resulted in the seizure of methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, a large knife, two batons, and a CO2 pistol from the vehicle. The two individuals were charged with various drug related offenses.
    • Officer Kyle Johnson, West Fargo Police Department
      • Officer Johnson served as backup to Officer Solberg and continued the investigation at the nearby hotel. His investigation secured a search warrant for the hotel room and the resultant search yielded additional methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, as well as the arrest of the individual suspected of supplying the drugs found during the initial traffic stop.
  • 2019 Traffic Safety Media Award - This award is for the reporter/news organization that has been fair, balanced, and informative in reporting transportation/traffic related issues on radio, television, newspaper, or internet/social media.
    • Scott Hennen, iHeartMedia
      • Scott is always willing to discuss North Dakota traffic safety issues which include use of seat belts, distracted driving, impaired driving, and the Vision Zero strategy.
      • Scott hosts numerous discussions with Vision Zero partners.
      • Scott is always interested in discussing traffic safety.
    • Danielle Webster, Prairie Public Broadcasting
      • Danielle is a strong advocate of traffic safety and frequently reaches out for information to promote high visibility traffic safety campaigns. She takes the initiative to “dig deeper” by reaching out to Vision Zero agencies and their partners for interviews to better inform the public about traffic safety issues and events.
  • 2019 Infrastructure Award – Program – This award recognizes an organization that has made a difference within their agency, community, or state through implementation of a program that improves traffic safety.
    • Cass County Highway Department
      • For nearly three years the Cass County Highway Department planned, designed, and completed many countywide safety projects. They developed the projects to make the roads safer to the traveling public.
Pictured left to right, Scott Hennen, Jason Benson of the Cass County Hwy Dept., Officer Joseph Solberg, Officer Kyle Johnson. Not pictured: Danielle Webster.


 

The Grand Forks region winners are in the following categories:

 
  • 2019 Beyond the Traffic Stop - These officers used outstanding investigative skills that led to multiple arrests for narcotics, stolen property, and outstanding warrants all resulting from a single routine traffic stop.
    • Officer Daniel Essig, Grand Forks Police Department
      • Officer Essig’s investigation resulted in the seizure of methamphetamine, marijuana, prescription pills, drug-related cash, and numerous pieces of suspected stolen property. Two individuals were arrested and charged with various drug offenses.
    • Officer Michael Ruit, Grand Forks Police Department
      • Officer Ruit’s investigation resulted in the seizure of methamphetamine, marijuana, prescription pills, cash, drug paraphernalia, a BB gun, and a stolen checkbook. Four individuals were arrested and charged with various drug offenses, warrants, and other offenses.
    • Corporal Andrew Ebertowski, Grand Forks Police Department
      • Corporal Ebertowski’s investigation resulted in the seizure of methamphetamine, cash, and drug paraphernalia. Three individuals were arrested and charged with various drug offenses, warrants, and other offenses.
 
  • 2019 Child Passenger Safety Award - Recognizes the Child Passenger Safety technicians and/or instructors for their commitment to child passenger safety through participation in check-up events, public education opportunities, teaching efforts, and dedication to a local, area-wide or state-wide CPS program.  
    • Corporal Brandon Eberhardt, Grand Forks Police Department
      • Senior CPS Technician dedicated to child passenger safety.
      • Active in the community to promote child passenger safety initiatives. 
      • Considered the department “Resident Expert” when it comes to car seat installations.
    • Jasmine Wangen, Safe Kids Grand Forks
      • Plans and hosts car seat checkup events in many communities.
      • Coordinates and conducts Car Seat Technician training, mentoring, and Tech Updates.
      • Active in the community to promote child passenger safety initiatives, manage social media, media interviews.
Pictured left to right, Officer Daniel Essig, Corporal Andrew Ebertowski, Jasmine Wangen, Lt. Travis Benson accepting on behalf of Corporal Brandon Eberhardt, and Officer Michael Ruit


 

The Williston region winners are in the following categories:

 
  • 2019 Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Officer of the Year – Recognizes the officer who excels in conducting DRE evaluations and creating awareness to their peers and community about the dangers of drug use and drugged driving.
    • Chief Deputy Shannon Wellen, McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office
      • Conducted 16 DRE evaluations.
      • Trains other officers on how to detect impaired drivers.
      • Completed DRE Instructor Certification.
 
  • 2019 Traffic Safety Media Award - This award is for the reporter/news organization that has been fair, balanced, and informative in reporting transportation/traffic related issues on radio, television, newspaper, or internet/social media.
    • Mountrail County Promoter
      • Top news outlet throughout North Dakota to pick up traffic safety news releases during 2017-2018.
      • Ran 28 traffic safety related articles, of which 20 were releases from NDDOT.
Photo Attachment: Pictured left to right, Chief Deputy Shannon Wellen, Amanda Peterson (Mountrail County Promoter).

Lead Agencies:

ND State Highway Patrol
ND DOT
ND Department of Health