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52 child car seats destroyed

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office destroyed 52 confiscated car seats Monday morning in a symbolic gesture of their attempts to get dangerous car seats off the roads.

Lt. Mike Biaggini said the department has targeted child car safety as a problem area in the county and will continue to hold the voluntary checkpoints, with the possible addition of mandatory enforcement checkpoints.

He said the surveys conducted to determine how many children are secured at all in cars have driven home the point that enforcement may be necessary to draw attention to the issue.

Biaggini said the department’s motorcycle police officer, Dan Coverly, sat at a local shopping plaza and counted the number of children secured by child car seats.

“He watches people going in from his vantage point and he observed 25 percent of kids were not secured at all,” Biaggini said. “That’s why we’re trying to get people out there to wake up because they are taking a chance they will kill or injure their child. Why take that chance? Especially when we have this program that doesn’t cost anything but a little bit of time.”

Biaggini said if the enforcement checkpoints are offered, they will be scheduled during November, which is National Child Car Safety Month.

Since beginning the checkpoints this summer, 52 car seats were removed from cars due to recalls or damage.

Douglas Disposal crushed the car seats using a front end loader at the Douglas County Transfer Station located at the end of Pinenut Road, south of Gardnerville Monday morning.

During the past six inspections, the program has inspected 189 child safety seats. Of those, only four were properly installed. Of the 189 seats, 52 dangerous seats were removed and 51 replacement seats were issued.

When a recalled or damaged seat is removed, a new seat is offered. Donations are requested, but no one is denied a seat due to lack of funds. More than $2,000 has been donated for the replacement seats so far.

These seats were taken from people who had come to one of the six voluntary free child seat checkpoints held in Douglas County this year. The checkpoints have been held since May after four DCSO deputies and one member of the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District completed a one-week course in child passenger safety seat inspections.

Biaggini then applied for and received a six-month grant for $4,800 from the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety, and the Douglas County Restraint Education and Awareness Program was created. The money was used to buy new child car seats.

The program has been so successful that the Office of Traffic Safety approved another grant to buy more car seats.