COLUMBUS — The village of Ada was honored by the Ohio Department of Public Safety on Tuesday for its continued efforts to ensure community safety.
Chief Michael Harnishfeger of the Ada Police Department was presented with the “I Contribute” Award, a newly created honor meant to highlight individuals or organizations working to ensure Ohio is a safe place in which to live.
Harnishfeger helped create the Seeking Aid From Every Resident, or S.A.F.E.R., policing program, which is designed to engage with community members in preserving community safety through such methods as community alert systems, safety education for children, and community safety awards.
“The idea for S.A.F.E.R. came on the heels of 9/11,” Harnishfeger said in a statement. “I was thinking of ways to keep our village safer as a result of the terrorist attack on our nation. Realizing that Ada is not New York City, or an otherwise large target, the fact remains that people as a whole, not just law enforcement, must remain vigilant to keep a safer community, state and nation. Law enforcement cannot do it alone.”
With the Department of Public Safety recently launching its “A Safer Ohio” campaign, Ada’s program is an ideal example of the campaign’s goals.
“This campaign is meant to ask ourselves what we can do to contribute to a safer Ohio,” said Kristen Castle, public information officer for the Department of Public Safety. “When Chief Harnishfeger found out about that, he let us know about what they’ve been doing on the local level, we thought that this would be the type of example we’d be looking for for an award. We said in our presentation that Ada is 12 years ahead of us.”
Harnishfeger and the Ada Police Department also use the S.A.F.E.R. program to bring various members of the community together to take ownership of the village’s safety. The program has a community that is made up of members of law enforcement, representatives from Ohio Northern University and other area schools, local business and government representatives as well as members of the general public. S.A.F.E.R. signs are also placed strategically throughout the community as a highly visible reminder to residents of the need for everyone to be vigilant in promoting a safe community.
“Everything we do is centered around S.A.F.E.R. as a continual reminder that it takes all of us working together to keep our community safer,” Harnishfeger said.