Since 1993, the Florida Highway Patrol has distributed over 30,000 child safety seats paid for by federal monies in an effort to assist needy Florida families who cannot afford to purchase them. FHP is committed to ensuring that all child safety seats distributed are properly installed and used. Therefore, it is crucial that certified troopers be available to install the seats and offer instruction to recipients on proper installation and usage. Currently, troops all across the state regularly set up child safety seat checkpoints to assist the public in identifying unsafe and improperly installed child safety seats as well as offering free seats to families in need.
To further encourage traffic safety and the use of child safety seats and seat belts, FHP has hired four new troopers whose positions are made possible through a federal grant administered by the Department of Transportation and managed by the Florida Highway Patrol's Public Information Office. The four troopers hired under this grant will serve as Occupant Protection Specialists. Troopers Reginald Edwards, Charlotte Thompson, Dawn Tomlinson, and Lissa King will join the Occupant Protection Team. Trooper Kim Miller, under the direction of Lt. Chuck Williams, has been serving as a Child Restraint Specialist for the past several years, and continues to be an excellent role model for this worthy cause.
Each of the Occupant Protection Specialists will be responsible for administering the child safety seat program for their respective troops, and will conduct child passenger safety classes for police and fire departments, health care workers, members of the private sector, and fellow FHP personnel. In addition, these troopers will coordinate and oversee traffic safety presentations designed for a variety of audiences, including area high school students, on the importance of safety belt use. These troopers will serve as resources for other agencies on child passenger safety issues, and will work with their local County Tax Collectors Office to promote the $2 Difference Program, another program providing child safety seats to needy Florida families.
To continue to answer the need for qualified personnel to install child safety seats, all FHP troopers have received basic training in the proper use and installation of child safety seats. In addition, as many troopers as possible have been encouraged to complete the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 32-Hour Child Safety Seat Certification Course, which offers intensive hands-on instruction in the proper installation and use of child safety seats. Completion of this course and passing of the standardized test is required before an individual can be state certified to install child safety seats. The four Occupant Protection Specialists are all NHTSA certified, as well as several other troopers and FHP personnel statewide.