It is important to recognize the difference between a car seat education class for parents and caregivers versus a training for law enforcement officers on their role in child passenger safety.
With the first law enforcement training I held, I had been overzealous in my attempt to get the officers to want to approach child passenger safety the way I would as a CPS Technician. I realized during the training, that this was not the approach needed. One officer made the comment that he didn’t have the time to see if a child was properly restrained when on patrol. So, after some time, it finally hit home that these law enforcement officers are not going to see what I see at a car seat check-up event, or a class. For them, it’s about gross misuse–wrong car seat, no seat, wrong seat in vehicle, clearly unrestrained, and vehicle not suitable for children to ride in. And since my four hour class was changed to two hours, it was too late to make a lot of changes. In the future, I’d plan to cover gross misuse especially, and I’d make sure I had photos of gross misuse for them to look at. I’d also recommend making sure you save time to have the officers fill out a course evaluation, so that you get good feedback you can use to improve the class.
Training for parents and caregivers focuses on:
- Best practices. For example, focus might be on the best types of car seats or seat belt systems.
- Tough choices. For example, the training might discuss what to do if you don’t have access to a child safety seat.
Training for law enforcement offices focuses on:
- How to distinguish between correct and gross misuse of child safety seats very quickly as cars pass or at routine traffic stops.
- How to spot child safety seat violations.
As part of this training, law enforcement officers will NOT receive a CPST certification, but they WILL receive a certificate of participation. They’ll also have a better knowledge on how to:
- Direct parents and caregivers to CPSTs for assistance.
- Educate parents and caregivers about state and tribal laws.
- Give a ticket or a verbal/written warning for a child restraint offense.
It is important to note that it is the duty of the officer to enforce the child restraint law, BUT they have little control over what happens after a citation is issued.