Chief Charles H. Ramsey
Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC
Congress Heights Community Health Center
It is exciting to stand with all of you today as we set out to do one of the most important jobs we have—protecting DC’s children.
Today, at a location just down the street—and all this week throughout the city—Metropolitan Police officers will be conducting a series of car seat and seat belt safety checkpoints. And because this is National Child Passenger Safety Week, there will be a special focus on enforcing the law requiring that children be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat or seat belt.
The penalty for violation of the child restraint law is a $55 fine and 2 points on one’s driver’s license. The fine for unbelted adults is $50, plus 2 points. Here in the District of Columbia, we have one of the most comprehensive seat belt safety laws in the nation. And while we’re not going to have a news conference every day, I want to make it clear that this life-saving law is going to be enforced every day. No exceptions. No excuses.
But this week, our officers will be handing out more than citations. They will also be handing out these "Ticket to Safety" flyers. These flyers provide information about the District’s innovative child safety seat loan program—a program that is increasing access to car seat protection for all DC families and their children.
For those of us in law enforcement, Child Passenger Safety Week is exciting because we know that we are going to make a difference in the lives of families, here in Southeast and throughout the District of Columbia. We are here today because we know enforcement works. And we’re here because there are still too many children at risk—unnecessary and totally preventable risk—because someone allows them to ride in a vehicle unbuckled.
Talk to any of the police officers here today. Every one of us will tell you the same thing: we would rather write a thousand tickets than have to pull another dead or seriously injured child out of a wrecked vehicle. This issue isn’t just about policy. It’s personal for us—it’s about saving lives. As police officers, we see the pain first hand, on an almost daily basis. And we are committed to doing everything we can to help prevent further injuries and death on our streets.
Promoting child safety seat use has the full, enthusiastic support of the Metropolitan Police Department because our strong law, coupled with our commitment to enforcing that law, is getting results and saving lives.
Since the law was beefed up two years ago, child restraint use and seat belt use are both up. And DC is now a leader among major cities in these safety areas. We know that increased use of seat belts and car seats has resulted in lives being saved and injuries being prevented. We are building an incredible story of success here in our Nation’s Capital. But it’s not good enough. And that’s where "Ticket to Safety" comes in.
If we are to achieve even greater success in the future—if we are to save even more lives—we must continue to expand access to car seats, continue to reach out and educate the community, and continue to enforce our laws fairly and diligently. That is the three-part recipe for success.
Of course, our success could not be possible without the dedicated members of the "DC’s Clickin’!" Coalition—a partnership of the Metropolitan Police, the Department of Public Works, the DC SAFE KIDS Coalition, and the George Washington University Medical Center. Together—through increased education, enforcement, and access to child safety seats—we are working to get every person, every child buckled up ... every time.