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State recognizes Brainerd police as 'outstanding agency'

Monday night, the Brainerd Police Department was recognized for its efforts to eliminate deaths. Frank Scherf, northeast Minnesota law enforcement liaison from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety, attended the Bra...

Frank Scherf (right), Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, presents a preliminary breath test device to Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston (center) at Monday night’s Brainerd City Council meeting. Also pictured is Council President Gary Scheeler. (Brainerd Dispatch/Spenser Bickett)
Frank Scherf (right), Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, presents a preliminary breath test device to Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston (center) at Monday night’s Brainerd City Council meeting. Also pictured is Council President Gary Scheeler. (Brainerd Dispatch/Spenser Bickett)

Monday night, the Brainerd Police Department was recognized for its efforts to eliminate deaths.

Frank Scherf, northeast Minnesota law enforcement liaison from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety, attended the Brainerd City Council meeting to name the Brainerd Police Department an "Outstanding Agency" for its efforts in Minnesota's Toward Zero Deaths program.

As part of the award, the Brainerd Police Department was awarded four new preliminary breath test devices.

For more than a decade, Police Chief Corky McQuiston said, the department has administered the countywide traffic safety grant. The department works with a variety of regional partners to ensure safer roads in Crow Wing County.

Scherf said the TZD program relies on the four Es: enforcement, engineering, education and emergency medical services. Those four groups worked together to reduce deaths on Minnesota roads from 655 per year to 350 per year by 2014, he said. In 2014, there were 361 deaths on Minnesota roads.

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"So we were real close," Scherf said.

The new goal for 2020 is 300 deaths, "so we've got a ways to go," Scherf said. In 2011, there were 368 deaths, he said, the first time since 1944 it's been below 400.

"To get that number below that 400 was a milestone in itself," Scherf said.

Seat belt usage has increased from 87 to 95 percent, Scherf said. Only 32 agencies per year are selected as "Outstanding Agencies," and there's a backlog for the awards, so Brainerd's was for April through June of 2014.

"They've been a leader in the traffic safety program in Crow Wing County for many, many years," Scherf said. "I appreciate everything they do."

SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or spenser.bickett@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .

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