Fillmore County Deputy Derek Fugelstad presents Chatfield police officer Grace McCallum with a plaque and certificate for her successful “Click It or Ticket” campaign.
Fillmore County Deputy Derek Fugelstad presents Chatfield police officer Grace McCallum with a plaque and certificate for her successful “Click It or Ticket” campaign.
Grace McCallum wants drivers to be clickers.

And honestly, she'd like to belt them.

"I was very surprised but also pleased that our community was recognized as being a safer place because of this campaign," said McCallum, a Chatfield police officer. "In my four-hour shift, I made 16 traffic stops and issued 16 citations for no seatbelt use. Of these 16 drivers, two licenses were revoked, one suspended and one did not have a driver's license, resulting in four more citations issued."

McCallum was one of four officers in the state of Minnesota recognized for her seatbelt enforcement and education effort during the May 2012 national "Click It or Ticket" seatbelt enforcement campaign. This is done annually as part of Minnesota's "Toward Zero Deaths" (TZD) driver safety program. While she takes seatbelt enforcement as part of the job, she also knows how important it can be.

"The 'Click It or Ticket' campaign was run this past May as a state-wide initiative for all law enforcement agencies. The Minnesota State Patrol, county sheriff's departments and local police departments all participated in this safety effort," McCallum shared. "Hopefully, the most important result of the enforcement I did was to ensure that our community members got home safely. When individuals were stopped, they frequently told me they were in too much of a hurry or didn't have that far to go and so they didn't buckle up."

McCallum added that she and her fellow officers know from all the studies that have been done that serious injury or even death can result from even a low-speed accident if someone is not buckled up. "The driver or other occupants of a vehicle are all vulnerable to this unnecessary risk," she said. "This campaign was to raise awareness on seat belts and to really focus on safety."

Chatfield Police Chief Shane Fox praised McCallum by saying, "Officer McCallum's dedication delivered a strong message about seatbelt use and, additionally, removed four unlicensed drivers from our roadways. Seatbelt use is the single most important pre-crash factor in reducing injury severity and death."

Fillmore County Sheriff's Office TZD coordinator Sgt. Derek Fugelstad concurred, saying, "Rural Minnesota highways have a higher fatality rate than large metro areas. Each year, about 75 percent of all fatalities and 80 percent of all unbelted deaths occur on rural roadways. It is imperative that we take traffic safety seriously and make it a top priority; this is how the most lives are saved."

McCallum has been a part of the Chatfield police force for nearly four years.

"I grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota," she explained. "I went to college at Minnesota State University-Moorhead. I received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in criminal justice, and a minor in sociology. I then went to Alexandria Technical College for law enforcement training."

She chose to become a police officer because it's the family business. "I come from a family of law enforcement. My father worked for the police department in Fergus Falls. I entered into law enforcement because I saw it as a way to be involved with people and help them," she said. "I also believe that having an effective police department provides for a safer community. Obviously, not all interactions with the public are pleasant, but my commitment to the safety of our community members is most important to me."

McCallum concluded, "Something as simple as fastening your seatbelt can be lifesaving. The goal of the campaign is not to get the most citations, but to get Minnesota roads 'Toward Zero Deaths.' Buckle up and drive safely!"