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George McGee issued 26,002 traffic citations over the course of his 36-year career in law enforcement.

Thirty of those years were spent serving at the York Area Regional Police Department.

McGee, now retired, was among the 28 officers from York and surrounding counties honored Thursday by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Center for Traffic Safety.

"About 2,800 of those (citations) were seat belts," McGee said.

His and the other officers' participation in the 2015-16 Pennsylvania Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project (PAADEEP) helped save countless lives and prevent untold injuries, officials said.

The ceremony took place at 10 a.m. at the Center for Traffic Safety headquarters, 110 Pleasant Acres Road, Springettsbury Township. Many of the officers who earned awards could not be there to accept them because of shift rotations and scheduled court dates. Other officers from their respective departments — agencies from Cumberland, Franklin, Lebanon, Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties were represented — accepted the awards on their behalf.

York County officers on hand to accept their own awards were Officers Joshua Crimmel of York Area Regional and Adam Jordan of West Manchester Township.

Crimmel said it was nice to be recognized for the work he and fellow officers from the region came together to accomplish.

In 2015, municipal agencies across the state wrote a combined 54,926 aggressive driving citations, including 33,893 speeding tickets.

"It’s part of our everyday task that we do, but for those officers that go above and beyond, it is important to recognize them," Crimmel said.

His agency worked routes 74 and 24 during the campaign. Jordan and York Area Regional helped cover West Market Street and Route 30.

"It feels good to get honored for hard work," Crimmel said. "It means a lot and it is important for us to get back out there and keep hammering.”

Aggressive driving: PennDOT and the National Highway Safety Administration have been working together since 2006 to crack down on aggressive driving, an issue the respective departments have determined as the state's No. 1 problem as far as traffic safety. PennDOT defines aggressive driving as any violation or combination thereof listed under Pennsylvania's Motor Vehicle Code Title 75. Some of those violations are driving at unsafe speeds, reckless driving, racing on highways, following too closely, passing school buses and fleeing from police.

Jordan said the campaign to reduce aggressive driving came down to one thing: saving lives.

"It helps reduce crashes. Ultimately, it is our goal to help keep roadways safe," he said.

Aggressive drivers are generally in a rush to begin with and can sometimes become irate when they have been pulled over or are receiving a citation, he said. But that only occurs about half of the time.

McGee, who has handed out more than his fair share of citations to aggressive drivers, said the important thing is that the driver learn from the experience, no matter how angry they might have been during the traffic stop.

"Unfortunately, they are getting the ticket, but hopefully they learn something from it. What we are trying to do is promote safety, and unfortunately people get citations, but hopefully they’ll learn from that," he said.

McGee congratulated the younger officers for doing their part with the PAADEEP program. His message to the younger officers coming up behind him was simple: Put safety first and try to go out and enjoy the job.

"Truly, our job is to try to go out and save lives and prevent accidents," he said. "By people showing their appreciation and getting an award like this, it (helps) you be able to go out and do the job even better than what you were doing in the first place."

— Reach John Joyce atjjoyce2@yorkdispatch.comor on Twitter at @JohnJoyceYD.

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