Webber Seavey Award

The Webber Seavey Award, jointly sponsored by IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) and Motorola, is presented annually to agencies and departments worldwide in recognition for promoting a standard of excellence that exemplifies law enforcement's contribution and dedication to the quality of life in local communities. The award is named for Webber S. Seavey, the IACP's first president.

Among a field of 148 nominees, three departments were selected to receive law enforcement’s most distinguished honor: the Covington, Ga., Police Department; the Lexington-Fayette, Ky., Division of Police; and the Calgary, Alberta, Police Service. Twenty-two other departments were also honored as finalists and semifinalists.

"For 10 years, the Webber Seavey Award has celebrated the achievements of progressive law enforcement agencies committed to making positive contributions to the communities they serve," said IACP President Bill Berger, chief of police of the North Miami Beach, Fla., Police Department. "This year's winners truly represent the best of the best and IACP is proud to recognize their outstanding accomplishments."

Carl Peed, director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for the U.S. Department of Justice, and Jim Sarallo, Motorola senior vice president and general manager, North America Group, joined Chief Berger in making the formal presentations.

"For a decade, Motorola has proudly co-sponsored the Webber Seavey Awards program, recognizing the creative, cutting-edge law enforcement strategies of agencies and departments worldwide," said Sarallo. "Their accomplishments and contributions to law enforcement continue to raise the bar of excellence for others to emulate."

The Covington Police Department was honored for its "Variable Intensive Patrol Enforcement and Response" (VIPER) project. Launched by the department in 1998, VIPER was designed to address increasing drug trafficking and related crimes within specific Covington neighborhoods. Specifically, the department looked at the increasing amount of drug dealing in the area, increased noise and traffic problems, large groups of people loitering on street corners and a sharp rise in aggravated assaults and burglaries.

To confront the issue in the town of 11,500 located about 50 miles from Atlanta, the department decided to form a specialized unit that could implement a mix of traditional patrol techniques and narcotics investigation with a strong commitment to community service. Department statistics, along with citizen input, were used to determine where and how the new four-man VIPER unit should concentrate its efforts. Additionally, the department committed $15,000 to the unit for the purchase of audio monitoring equipment and a narcotics K-9.

After a full year of VIPER's deployment, the unit laid the groundwork for 129 drug cases. In the years following its launch, the VIPER unit has consistently handled 65 percent of all drug cases in the department. In 2001, the unit was directly responsible for making more than 350 drug-related arrests. As a result of the VIPER team's efforts, the incidence of aggravated assaults decreased 69 percent, simple assaults and battery dropped 64 percent, weapons offenses decreased by 50 percent and burglaries fell 21 percent citywide. The department has also forged a much stronger relationship with Covington citizens as a result of the initiative.