NEW YORK, July 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Officer Dustin Kato, a school resource officer for the Chino (Calif.) Police Department who works with students in Don Lugo High School has been named the recipient of the 2017 NASRO/National Road Safety Foundation "Innovation in the Classroom Award."
The award, presented today at the annual conference of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) in Washington, D.C., recognizes innovative teaching of traffic safety in schools by a school resource officer (SRO). It carries with it registration and an expenses-paid trip to the NASRO Conference and a $1,000 honorarium to be used for traffic safety education by the honoree's police department.
Officer Kato, a police officer for 15 years, began working as a school resource officer at Don Lugo High School in 2013. For several years the school had been participating in the "Every 15 Minutes" program, which teaches students about the dangers of drinking and driving keyed to prom season. Earlier this year, however, the program, which cost the police department about $6,000, was cut due to lack of funds.
Within a week of being notified of the program's cancellation, Officer Kato put together and found funding for a Safe and Sober Prom Week program. He brought in groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who provided speakers for assemblies, and corporate partners like AT&T, which provided distracted driving virtual reality simulators. He reached out to San Bernardino County Safe and Sober Prom campaign and got DUI tricycles and goggles so students could experience firsthand the feeling of trying to function safely while impaired. He got the Chino Police to provide new driver classroom training to some 200 students.
According to Don Lugo High School principal Dr. Kimberly Cabrera, the Safe and Sober Prom program Officer Kato quickly put together impacted ten times the number of students the previous and costly prom effort had reached. Based on its success, the program has been requested by several other high schools in the region.
"Officer Kato's professionalism, enthusiasm and passion for challenging and improving on current practices has made him an invaluable asset to our students and the entire school community," said Dr. Cabrera.
Mo Canady, Executive Director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, said, "Officer Kato, our 2017 Innovation in the Classroom honoree, is a perfect example how creativity can reverse a bad situation and strengthen trust and understanding between young people and law enforcement."
"Officer Kato's creativity brought a quick and impactful solution to what could have been a debilitating loss for his school and its students," said Michelle Anderson, Director of Operations at The National Road Safety Foundation. "We are pleased to recognize such a dedicated and caring officer, who is a good role model for his fellow SROs."
For more than 50 years, The National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF), a non-profit organization, has created driver education programs for free distribution to schools, police, traffic safety agencies, youth advocacy groups and others. The organization has supported NASRO's Innovation in the Classroom program for eight years. NRSF also sponsors national contests for teens in partnership with SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and Scholastic, and regionally with the Los Angeles Auto Show and auto shows in Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. To view free programs and for more information, visit www.nrsf.org or www.teenlane.org.
David Reich – National Road Safety Foundation
(212) 573-6000 cell 914 325-9997
SOURCE The National Road Safety Foundation