Officer Melissa Dillon - KWLEN 2014 Officer of the Year

Officer Melissa DillonThe Paducah Police Department is home to the Kentucky Women’s Law Enforcement Network’s 2014 Officer of the Year.

Officer Melissa Dillon was recognized last Friday at the KWLEN annual conference in Louisville. She has been with the Paducah Police Department since 2003.

Dillon was nominated for the honor by fellow officer Gretchen Morgan in recognition of her work with the police department’s successful Traffic Enforcement Unit.

"We are very proud of Melissa," Paducah Police Chief Brandon Barnhill said. "Her devotion to this profession is second to none. We are glad to see her efforts being recognized on the state level.

"She is just one example of the fine officers of the Paducah Police Department and the level of commitment they are willing to give to our community."

Following is a copy of Officer Morgan’s letter of nomination:

"Officer Melissa Dillon has been instrumental in the development, implementation, and success of the Traffic Enforcement Unit at the Paducah Police Department. Her hard work and dedication to the department and her sincere concern for the safety of the citizens of Paducah makes her an excellent candidate for Police Officer of the Year Award.

"Officer Dillon has been with the Paducah Police Department since 2003. She has several duties as a patrol officer, and one of those duties is working collisions that occur on our streets and highways. In Paducah the number of traffic collisions was on the rise. Officer Dillon was the lead officer in forming the department’s first Traffic Enforcement Unit (TEU).

"In 2012, the Paducah Police Department had 343 injury collisions. In those 343 collisions, 523 people were injured. In 2012 there were seven fatal collisions. In years 2001-2011, the City of Paducah had six fatal collisions that resulted in 10 deaths. Those years include a four-year span with zero fatalities (2007-2010). So looking back to 2012, we had seven years’ worth of fatalities in 6 months.

"In 2013, the Paducah Police Department began to take a more in-depth look at traffic crash statistics. Officer Dillon assisted in forming a traffic fatality review committee that consisted of educators, media, transportation cabinet, and other law enforcement agencies. The committee reviewed all of our fatalities to see if there was a common denominator, however none could be found. When comparing the number of collisions of Paducah and the other 13 largest incorporated cities in Kentucky (based on population), Paducah had the highest collision rate. Paducah’s ranking was 7th in population and 1st in collision rate.

"The traffic review committee came up with three recommendations: First, the group believed that the department needed to do a better job of talking about collisions. They suggested that the department should get the information out about the number and types of collisions we were seeing, and do a better job humanizing the stories. Next, the committee agreed that we needed to improve the education we provide to the public and to our officers. They suggested that we should provide several traffic safety programs to the community. Finally, the committee suggested that a Traffic Enforcement Unit be formed. The group believed that high-visibility, targeted enforcement would reduce the number and severity of collisions in the city.

"Officer Dillon supplied the research and the department agreed to launch the traffic unit, it consisted of three officers who worked Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm. The days and times were based on stats showing that 70% of the collisions happening during those days and times. Enforcement locations were based on four years of collision data, sorted by day of week for a particular month. Each day of week is mapped and the TEU selects the areas with the highest concentration of collisions for the day.

"During the first year, the department saw a 17% reduction in injury collisions and a 6% reduction in non-injury collisions. Subsequent years also saw a decrease in collisions.

"From November 2013 through July 2014, Officer Dillon continued her devotion to the TEU by writing a total of 731 total citations: 564 seat belt citations, 75 speeding citations, 36 disregarding traffic control device citations, 23 no insurance citations, 20 electronic device citations (texting while driving), four criminal citations, three warrants served, and six other arrests. Because of her hard work and dedication the Paducah Police Department has seen a reduction not only in collisions, but also in the crime rate.

"For these and many other reasons too numerous to mention, I believe Officer Melissa Dillon should be named KWLEN’s Officer of the Year."