Martha Irwin Award for Lifetime Achievement in Highway Safety
In 1973, Captain Tom Fields (Ret.) began his career with the Vermont State Police (VSP) as a uniformed Trooper in the Drug Abuse Control Unit. He moved up through the ranks and by 1980 was Patrol Commander (Sergeant) in Shaftsbury where he began work in traffic safety. He attended Northwestern University’s Traffic Institute for Crash Reconstruction. He performed the duties of a crash reconstructionist and served as an expert witness for the Vermont Courts.
In 1996, promoted to the rank of Captain, he supervised the VSP Impaired Driving Team, a select group of Troopers pro-active in DUI enforcement in the State. Following research and consultation with law enforcement agencies nationwide, he developed a design for a mobile breath-testing vehicle specifically constructed for use in Vermont. Four of these DUI, or BAT (Blood Alcohol Testing) mobiles were assigned for use by all law enforcement agencies in Vermont. He supervised and managed a substantial grant from the Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) for an innovative program called, Safety Through Occupant Protection. This initiative was for the specific purpose of conducting saturation patrols to enforce Vermont’s seatbelt and child passenger safety seat laws.
Upon retirement from the VSP, Captain Fields (Ret.) continued his dedicated and committed work in traffic safety with the GHSP as a Law Enforcement Liaison (LEL) and has distinguished himself by developing innovative programs designed to improve traffic safety. He managed funds dedicated to Occupant Protection (OP) enforcement, seatbelt use education, including proper car seat installations, and has served Vermont a certified Child Passenger Safety Seat Technician.
Captain Fields (Ret.) managed the yearly Law Enforcement Challenge Program, inspiring Vermont's LE agencies to increase participation in high visibility enforcement campaigns and improve the effectiveness of the programs. He also supports the DRE and ARIDE programs. Captain Fields (Ret.) is a member of the Strategic Highway Safety Planning Committee, and actively participates in the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance (VHSA). He manages the activities of an OP802 Task Force Team (Team focused on improving the seatbelt use rate in VT). He supervises the Click It or Ticket Task Force providing leadership for the CIOT Border to Border operation, which promotes cooperative high visibility enforcement across state lines and with Canada. Captain Fields (Ret.) is a leader in his profession, participating in, and presenting for, highway safety initiatives throughout the country.
Data shows that Vermont has made great strides in reducing major crashes on the State’s roadways. The State has reduced major crashes by 25.7% since 2004. The five-year rolling averages for major crashes from 2004 to 2015 have decreased by 25% for occupant protection, 30% for impaired driving and 39% percent for speed and aggressive driving. Results like these illustrate that the efforts, dedication, and actions of Captain Fields has helped to save lives. In 2016, he received the Sergeant Michael Johnson Award for outstanding commitment to traffic safety from the Vermont GHSP. In summary, Captain Fields has been a dedicated and outstanding leader for more than three decades, working to make our roadways safer. He will be retiring in 2018, but his unending enthusiasm and dedication will continue to be an inspiration for all.