Sylvania Police Sgt. Stacey Pack, a certified child passenger safety technician, left, sets buckles on a new car seat. The department has two trained officers who can check or install a car seat for city residents by appointment.
From rear-facing seats for infants to booster seats for toddlers, Sgt. Stacey Pack has handled hundreds of child safety seats.
A certified child passenger safety technician, Sergeant Pack is one of two Sylvania police officers to organize free child seat installations.
“There are many things parents don't know about child safety seats or how to install them,” she said. “For instance, many people don’t know child seats expire after six years. After that, you need to buy a new seat.”
Sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the program urges the use of child safety seats and other restraints.
According to a 2011 NHTSA report, vehicular crashes are the leading cause of death for children under 14, with an average of three killed and 469 injured every day in accidents across the nation.
The same report indicates that child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers.
Ohio regulations mandate that every child under 8 be properly secured when riding in a vehicle; however, Sergeant Pack said, it is not always easy for parents to find the right seat and install it properly.
“Statistics show that 9 out of 10 car seats are not installed properly,” she noted, adding that the model and the position of the seat vary according to the vehicle as well as the child’s age and size.
The most common mistake is seat movement, Sergeant Pack said, explaining that a seat should not move more than an inch from side to side.
More than 2,000 child seats have been checked or installed since the program began in 2001.
Sgt. Danilynn Miller and retired officer William Dryer became the department’s first certified child safety technicians, after an intensive four-day training.
“It was the hardest trainings I’ve ever done in my law enforcement career,” recalled Mr. Dryer, who retired in 2010. “When I saw 60 baby seats stacked up to the wall, I thought, ‘What did I get myself into?’”
Mr. Dryer’s view was shared by Sergeant Pack, who received her certification about 10 years ago.
In partnership with Dave White Chevrolet and Safe Kids of Greater Toledo, the three officers started organizing checkpoints at events, including the Sylvania Summer Fest in Olander Park and the Safety Day at the Toledo Zoo. As word got out, the department started free child safety seat inspections upon request, Mr. Dryer said.
“We would have appointments to inspect and install seats almost every day,” he recalled.
The department no longer provides free child seats, Sergeant Pack said.
Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough praised the department’s efforts.
“No one is more important in Sylvania than our young people,” he said.
Sylvania residents seeking to get child seats checked or installed can schedule an appointment by calling the Sylvania Police Division Office of Community Affairs at 419-885-8906.
Contact Lorenzo Ligato at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.