CUTLINE: Officer William Barger [Courtesy photo]

Vandalia Police Officer William Barger has been selected to receive one of four 2018 Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Advisory Council (LETSAC) “Officer of the Year” awards.

LETSAC is a traffic law enforcement group, acting as a link between local law enforcement and the Highway Safety Office.

Four different awards are presented annually, one in each of the following categories: small department (1-15 members), medium department (16-40 members), large department (41+ members) and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The Vandalia Police Department has has two full-time officers and two part-time officers.

“I would not have been able to obtain such an honor without the support of my fellow officers, my Chief of Police as well as the city of Vandalia,” said Barger. “This is an overall career achievement in this area & validates years of hard work.”

Mike Stapp, law enforcement coordinator with the Highway Safety Department, said Barger was recognized “for his enforcement, number one, and criminal enforcement from his traffic enforcement.”

Barger was nominated for the award by Vandalia Chief of Police Christopher Hammann. In Hammann’s letter of nomination, he stated that Officer Barger had conducted 309 traffic stops during the reporting period, 13 of which resulted in arrests for Driving While Intoxicated.

Barger also participated in a number of traffic safety initiatives including the Youth Alcohol Enforcement campaign, the Statewide Click It or Ticket Enforcement campaign, the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Enforcement campaign and the Child Passenger Safety Enforcement campaign. Hammann stated that Barger’s traffic enforcement worked “cleared six active warrants for arrests” and that he also “took part in five vehicle pursuits resulting in criminal cases for felony resisting arrest by fleeing, felony leaving the scene of an accident, assault and kidnapping.”

Hammann stated that Barger’s arrests for impaired driving during his first year with the Vandalia Police Department totalled more “than all other officers collectively at the department over the previous six year combined.”

“Officer Barger remains steadfast in his commitment to traffic safety and enforcement all the while consistently working to make our roadways safer and improve overall public safety,” wrote Hammann.

Barger stressed the importance of traffic enforcement in preventing injury and property damage while on duty as an officer. He also said that enforcement contributes to reduction in the overall crime rate and the potential to “intercept the flow of narcotics throughout a community,” among other things.

“These things make a city like Vandalia safer and as an officer, those are things you should always want to do and excel at,” said Barger.

Barger will receive registration and five nights at the Lodge of Four Seasons for the LETSAC conference, during which he and the three other recipients will be recognized. The conference will be held July 9-13 in Lake Ozark, Missouri.

ssabatke@mexicoledger.com