J. Stannard Baker Award For Highway Safety

2015 J. Stannard Baker Award For Highway Safety

Sheriff (ret) F.W. (Wakie) Howard, Jr.

New Kent County, Virginia

Sheriff Howard applied to the New Kent County Sheriff’s Office in 1977. With two years of experience as a law enforcement officer he ran for and was elected as the New Kent County sheriff in 1979, a position he held until retiring in December 2015. When elected in 1979, Sheriff Howard was the youngest sheriff in Virginia. Upon his retirement, he was the longest serving sheriff in Virginia.

Sheriff Howard has served on the Virginia Highway Safety Committee since 1995 and served as the co-chair from 2000 until his retirement. He also served on the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Traffic Safety Committee from 2005 to 2015.

Sheriff Howard has been a strong supporter of highway safety in the commonwealth and has testified or had his department members testify at the General Assembly on the pick-up truck law restricting those under the age of 16 from being transported in the bed of a truck. Members of his office testified on the child safety seat law requiring those up to the age of 8 be transported on an approved child safety seat. 

Sheriff Howard and his members also testified in the new school bus lights systems requiring the warning lights to automatically activate with the opening of the door instead of the driver having to activate the lights manually. All of these bills successfully passed in the General Assembly and were put into law.

In May 2003, the “buckle up” program at New Kent High School was created with the assistance of Sheriff Howard, the high school principal, superintendent of schools, and the county school board to combat the students’ low seat belt usage rates. The program outlines the consequences for students that do not buckle up and has received state and national attention. School divisions across the commonwealth and the United States have adopted the program.

In 2013, the office conducted a pilot program for distracted drivers targeting commercial motor vehicle operators using mobile phones. This was a partnership with Drive Smart Virginia and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This program has been adopted by the Virginia State Police, as well as other state agencies, and is used for passenger vehicle enforcement.

Sheriff Howard’s leadership has helped develop the future leaders of the New Kent County Sheriff’s Office. He has been an icon in the Commonwealth of Virginia when it comes to his commitment to highway safety. 


Award Information

The deadline for submitting to the 2016 J. Stannard Baker Award for Highway Safety is May 1, 2017.  To submit your application, click here.  If you have submitted in the past, please consider submitting again!

Sponsored by NHTSA, and Northwestern University Center for Public Safety.


Sponsored by the National Sheriffs' Association, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, and OnStar, the prestigious J. Stannard Baker Award for Highway Safety recognizes individual law enforcement officers and others who have made significant lifetime achievements in highway safety. The award is designed to recognize law enforcement officers and others who have made significant contributions to, or outstanding achievements in, highway safety over the course of their career.
The National Sheriffs' Association is dedicated to promoting exemplary performance and creative approaches to enforcing traffic safety within the office of sheriff and those who support their efforts. Through partnerships with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Northwestern University Center for Public Safety, and OnStar, NSA works to recognize excellence in local community programs and national attention through the J. Stannard Baker Award.

Northwestern University Center for Public Safety is proud to sponsor the J. Stannard Baker Award. J. Stannard Baker, while working with the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety (formally the Traffic Institute) developed a mathematical and physics approach to crash investigation that has been replicated worldwide. J. Stannard Baker was well known as a pioneer in the broad field of traffic safety.  The lives saved through one man’s brilliant initiative is immeasurable. The Center for Public Safety continues in this tradition of "Advancing Excellence". The advancements of the Traffic Institute and J. Stannard Baker live on in the spirit of law enforcement officers working to advance the field of crash investigation and traffic safety.

Categories and Criteria

Development of Unique Law Enforcement/Community Traffic Safety Programs: This is to recognize an employee (officer, deputy sheriff) from an Office of the Sheriff who has shown unusual initiative and imagination in developing and promulgating traffic safety programs over the span of a career. A heroic or meritorious service act involving a traffic safety function is acceptable in this category.

Special Award to Governmental or Private Individuals: The award panel may grant a special award to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to highway safety over the course of a career.

Awards Panel

The award is managed by the National Sheriffs' Association. The selection panel is made up of NSA's Traffic Safety Committee which may or may not grant awards, at its discretion, or present special awards, as merited.

Presentation of Awards

The award recipient will be notified by June 1 each year, and will be invited to attend the NSA Annual Conference where the award is conferred. Travel and lodging expenses are provided for the recipient.

Qualifications and Rules

Candidates for the award must be a full-time paid officer or deputy sheriff from a city/county office of sheriff with a career dedicated to traffic safety.

The employee or civilian being nominated must have contributed to the highway safety program in their governmental agency over the course of a career. Long years of service alone are a consideration but not a determining factor. Equally, short service may be considered. However, the quality of the service or program is the essential factor.

To receive this award, the individual must first be nominated by a law enforcement agency, traffic safety group or official; and second, must be a full-time paid employee of a city/county office of sheriff or provide outstanding traffic safety contributions benefitting the office of sheriff.

An individual from either the public or the private sector who has made a significant contribution to highway safety would also be eligible for the special award. This award is designed to recognize the individual efforts of government employees, such as traffic engineers, educators, judges, prosecutors, motor vehicle examiners, etc., who have made outstanding contributions to highway safety programs and issues that benefit law enforcement and the office of sheriff.

Nominations must be submitted by May 1, 2017 to:

    J. Stannard Baker Award
    National Sheriffs' Association
    1400 Duke Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314
    ATTN: Ed Hutchison

For more information, contact Ed Hutchison at 800-424-7827 ext 326.

Who Was J. Stannard Baker?

This lifetime achievement award is named to honor J. Stannard Baker, a former physics professor at Northwestern University who made significant contributions to highway safety. A pioneer in crash reconstruction investigation, he developed this subject into a science by applying the laws of physics and developing mathematical equations to assist law enforcement officers in their investigations. The first books on crash reconstruction investigation were written by J. Stannard Baker and are still in use today.


J. Stannard Baker Award for Highway Safety Winners

2015  Sheriff (ret) F.W. (Wakie) Howard, Jr., New Kent County, VA
2014  Sheriff George T. Maier, Stark County, OH
2013  Sheriff Dennis J. Conard, Scott County IA
          Mrs. Joanne E. Thomka, Director, National Traffic Law Center
2012  Sheriff Charles Jett, Stafford County, VA
2011  Sheriff Dwight E. Radcliff, Pickaway County, OH
2010  Sheriff John Whetsel, Oklahoma County, OK
2009  Sergeant Chris Gonzalez, Collier County, FL

2008  Sergeant Joseph T. VanSeeters, Harford County, MD
2007  Captain Chris Looney, Franklin County, GA
2006 Sergeant Lee Scott Bailey, New Kent County, VA
2005 Sergeant Larry Savedge, Osceola County, FL
2004 Sergeant John F. D'Eredita, Onondaga County, NY
2003 Captain Todd Diaz, Lafourche Parish, LA
2002 Master Deputy William T. Belvin, Rowan County, NC
2001 Major Wayne Hannah, Fayette County, GA
2000 Sergeant David Hadley, Multnomah County, OR
1999 Captain John Diehl, Deschutes County, OR
1998 Deputy Michael S. Leary, Salt Lake County, UT
1997 Sergeant Carl R. Booth, Franklin County, OH
1996 Sergeant Kathleen Fossa, Pasco County, FL
1995 Corporal Norman “Butch” Whitaker, Ouachita Parish, LA
1994 Sergeant Yvonne Schull, Orange County, CA
1993 Lieutenant Randy Garrett, Clarendon County SC
1992 Sheriff James R. Metts, Lexington County, SC
1991 Sheriff Henry C. Zavislak, Jackson County, MI
1990 No Award Given
1989 No Award Given
1988 Sheriff George Hendle and Mr. George B. Corson, McHenry County, IL
1987 No Award Given
1986 Sheriff James Black, Larimer County, CO
1985 Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown, Greenville County, SC