CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia law enforcement officers were recognized for their highway safety efforts with a luncheon at the Clay Center Wednesday afternoon.

The event was sponsored by the Governors Highway Safety Program to honor the work officers put in every day to make West Virginia roads safer for everyone. Awards were given out for the enforcement of wearing seat belts and driving the speed limit and the prevention of distracted driving, among others. Officers say their main goal is to keep fatalities down.

“During the pandemic we’ve seen a dramatic increase nationwide of traffic fatalities so these guys have been going on through that time trying to persevere with that and doing enforcement trying to keep those numbers down if we can,” said Sgt. Adam Ballard with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgt. Joey Koher, with the Huntington Police Department says giving out citations isn’t a fun part of their job, but it teaches people a valuable lesson.

“Education through enforcement and its an unfortunate aspect of our job but it’s one of the things that affect the behaviors that push down the fatal crashes that we have in the state of West Virginia,” Koher said.

More than 1,800 officers and 200 agencies worked highway safety-funded enforcement since 2019.