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Deputy honored for seat belt enforcement

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By Randy Patrick

Jerry Hardin may be a nice guy, but he won’t win any popularity awards from motorists because he’s often the one writing them tickets for not wearing their seat belts.

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He did, however, win an award for that this week.

The Office of Highway Safety presented him a framed Louisville Slugger baseball bat for being a division winner among “Highway Safety All Stars” for having issued 241 citations in a one-year span, from July 1 of last year through the end of this June.

Michael Schwendau of the state office presented the bat to him at the Sheriff’s Office training room Tuesday morning. The bat was, he said, “a token of our appreciation for your effort and leadership …”

The presentation was attended by County Judge-Executive Dean Watts, Sheriff Ed Mattingly, several of Hardin’s fellow deputies and other state employees.

“There was an award ceremony for it a couple of weeks ago, but he was in school somewhere else and couldn’t go, so they’re bringing it out to him,” Mattingly said moments before the state officials showed up Tuesday.

Hardin thanked them and said that “writing tickets and keeping people safe” are a big part of his job.

“People out there complain about seat belts … but I’ve had to pull a lot of people out of cars that, if they’d had a seat belt on, they’d probably been alive,” he said.

“I know a lot of people dislike me for stopping them and writing them (tickets) for seat belts, but that’s my job. That’s what I do,” Hardin added.

Since wearing seat belts became mandatory in Kentucky in 2006, he has written thousands of tickets for violations, he said.

Unfortunately, some of them were people he has cited three or four times for the same thing, he said.

“He’s always a leader in seat belt enforcement,” Watts remarked. “I firmly believe it has made a difference in people’s lives.”

Hardin is also one of the department’s top enforcers for speeding and other traffic violations, and he has put 238,000 miles on his car, mostly while working traffic safety.

He is also a K-9 officer.

A former truck driver, Hardin began his law enforcement career with the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office in 1998.