JACKSON, MISS- The Mississippi Highway Patrol launched a campaign called “Stop the Knock,” which is aimed at reducing the number of fatalities on state highways.
Law enforcement officials kicked off the campaign with an event at the Mississippi Highway Patrol Headquarters in Jackson Thursday.
“This isn’t about the number of roadblocks or the number of citations we’ll write,” said Captain Johnny Poulos. “It is about the number of lives we can save.”
Poulos added that since January 1, 228 crashes have resulted in deaths in the state. 19 of those deaths have been teenagers. When a person is killed in a car accident, law enforcement officers knock on the door of the victim, and explain to the family that their loved one has died.
“Too many knocks have been made on the doors to parents, loved ones and family members across Mississippi,” said Poulos. “Unfortunately, you can’t stop the knock completely–we call that ‘the nature of the beast.’ But we can get the message out there, spread awareness, and bring the number of these knocks down.”
That message is not just spread by the presence of law enforcement, but with public service announcements and billboards. The billboards feature a car accident, with a person dead in the driver’s seat.
“I’ve gotten many messages about how the messages are graphic,” said Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz. “But you know what’s graphic? I know from experience. Knocking on a door, telling a mother and father their little one has died in a wreck.”
Cruz got emotional during his description of the procedure.
“I’ve seen a mother pass out, a father, hit his knees and cry.” said Cruz. “That is what’s graphic.”
Mississippi’s First Lady Deborah Bryant spoke at the press conference. In that speech she noted the fear that came with the phone call that her children had been in a car accident together on the way home from college.
Captain Johnny Poulos said that safe driving starts by being an example.
“Parents need to be involved with their teens’ lives,” said Poulos. “Know who they are riding with, where they’re going. But know that they will mimic you. They learn from you first. So buckle up, don’t text and drive, and keep alert on the roads.”
The “Stop the Knock” campaign will last through the summer months.